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hyperlinks in the text of an article

do they help or just confuse the reader?

5:37 am on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I started one of my sites back in 1996 so many of the old articles are full of these hyperlinks to pictures and/or related information.

That was the thing to do back then, something that could only be done on the interenet. And of course most of us online then were somewhat the techy types.

Now I'm thinking that hyperlinks may just confuse most visitors. I'm thinking of just putting related links at the bottom of an article instead.

Do any of you have ideas on this?

2:02 am on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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IMHO, a problem with hyperlinks now compared to the "old days" ;-) is that you never know where one's going to take you: a related article, a pop-up window, an ad... I appreciate ones that have a tag that opens in hover mode to give me a clue.

With my own links, I try to work a brief explanation into the text. No, not "click here" - although I might have a few of those left over from years past, too ;-) - but something like, "In an earlier article, we discussed..." On my main content site, a lot of the information is inter-related and going back to give a full explanation of something that's written about somewhere else would get burdensome (both for me and for regular readers, who'd have to read the same stuff over and over!). If it's to something that involves the entire new article, I might put a link to it at the end (or at the beginning, if it's something that would be useful to read first), but often it's something that speaks to one particular statement or paragraph and I want to keep it connected with that in the reader's mind.

One thing I have done most likely isn't the best thing for affiliate income, but I've done it, anyway. That's taking any product or ad links out of the text and having them all as recognizable ads on the page. I do put links on the page to items that are relevant to that article/review/news, but I don't use plain text links within the text as I used to. This was really in response to what I talked about in the first paragraph - I don't want readers to have to worry that they might end up looking at an ad if they click on a hyperlink, in large part because the links are important to the content of the site and I want visitors to follow them freely. In fact, when I made that change, I put it on the site as a stated policy so no one would have to wonder.

--I very seldom use hyperlinks in the text to link to anything on another site ("very seldom" is a hedge - I can't hink of any, but may be forgetting something). I always make those very identifiable links, although I do put them on pages where they're relevant to the content.

5:15 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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With regards the post above me, hyperlinks are best when the link text describes what the person is going to find when they click on it. That way they know what they're getting into.

I know some sites, Wikipedia being a good example, that use different formatting for external links as for internal links.

6:03 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Text hyperlinks are used at the Probert Encyclopaedia within article data to link related data within the encyclopaedia.

It's appropriate and sensible, a natural progression from the printed references in printed reference books (qv) which refer readers to related articles.