Show Me the Link

Last week, I ran across two articles on our web site  that started something like “In my previous article I talked about ABC”. The thing I found interesting is that neither of these articles used this opportunity to link to the previous article.

Here are some of the reasons I think there should be links to these previous articles.

  1. Links help Google figure out what the page is about.
  2. If  I’m interested in the previous article, I’ll want to go to that article. I do NOT want to figure out the navigational structure of the site. A direct link to the mentioned article will allow me to go to it quickly.
  3. Every page is your homepage. We have sites where only 5% of the users enter through the actual home page, most people come into content pages. From these content pages, we should give them related content.
  4. Eye tracking research shows that people tend to focus on the main content on your page in an “F” shaped pattern, meaning that people focus on parts of the first couple paragraphs/sections of your content more than any other part of your web page. If you can put a useful link somewhere it this primary focus area, the user is likely going to see the link. Added bonus when it’s a link back to another one of your pages.
  5. Using ClickTracks on some of our sites, we’ve seen that people are more likely to click on links within our content, then they are to click on navigational links.

It seems to me that people on the web are more interested in finding information then they are in navigating around our site. When we have articles related to our current page, we should link it to make it easy for our users to go to the related article.

Don’t make me think… show me the link

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3 comments so far

  1. Jeanne Wiebke on

    Excellent post! Wish more people would take your advice.

  2. Jeanne Gleason on

    Brian — we talked after your ACE presentation. I love your research and presentation and refer to it a lot in meetings. But would you consider going one step further? You could do a big favor to those of us fielding requests such as “please put my bake sale on the home page” by publishing a summarized statement like “research shows… most hits do not come from the home page but instead from…. ” If you do this we could just refer to you. Is that possible?
    Jeanne Gleason at New Mexico State University

    • bwebster on

      Jeanne – thanks! I’ve been giving your question some thought, and will try to write something up on it.


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