Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 28, 2012 9:51 PM

The Value Of Links

I'm starting to feel like a dinosaur.

It will be ten years in 2013 that I first started blogging. Prior to blogging, I have a very clear memory of when hyperlinking started happening online. We take links and linking for granted today. Back then, if you wanted to visit a website, you would enter the URL in the address bar of your web browser. If you wanted to leave that page and go to another page, you would have to know and be able to correctly type that webpage's address into the address bar (bookmarking had yet to be perfected). That's right, you could not just have a clickable link on a page. Crazy, I know. For those of us who were around back then, the advent of hyperlinks and bookmarking were one of the earlier instances when you could see how more and more people would adopt the Internet because these little additions are what made the Internet much easier to use.

Links are about more than moving around the Web.

I love links. This should not surprise anyone. Take a look at any of my blogs posts and they are littered with anything that can be linked to. Does it annoy you? Distract you? Send you down a rabbit hole to other online resources and articles? Do you get so lost that you don't come back to Six Pixels of Separation? I hope not, but I understand if it does. The truth is that I don't link because:

  • It is the proper etiquette for online writing.
  • It is good for search engine optimization.
  • It provides sources and references.
  • It helps people discover other articles and blog posts.
  • It helps people discover new and interesting websites.
  • It may create a distraction.
  • It may push you away from my content.

Why I link...

It is more of a philosophical reason, but I link (and link a lot) because I believe that links are what turns the text on a blog (or website) from a two-dimensional experience into a three-dimensional text experience. Links makes the text come alive. Links gives text-based content depth. When done well, links gives text more context and discovery. I can see why people like Seth Godin and Tim Sanders don't care as much about links as I do. Sanders published a blog post today (Why Linkiness Is A Blogger's Form Of Truthiness) about why he doesn't link (and will probably do even less linking going forward). There is nothing within his blog post that I would disagree with, if the sole purpose of publishing content online was to capture an individual's attention. Let's not kid ourselves, if the Internet does one thing amazingly well, it allows anyone to have an idea and publish that thought in text, images, audio and video instantly and free to the world. No one can diminish how powerful that is. If the Internet does another thing amazingly well, it allows anyone to link to other content and makes all of our content more findable, shareable and expandable. Links are core to this. Sanders makes a strong case for less links. I'm hopeful that I make an equally strong case for more links. The more we link, the more we connect, share and enable others to find the work we're doing. More importantly, the more we link, the more we make text three-dimensional. That's (still) exciting to me.

Let's keep on linking. Please. 

By Mitch Joel