Matt Forney
Spread the Word!

The Perils of Putting Too Many Links in Your Blog Posts

When you’re first starting out in the blog world, you will likely feel tempted to obsessively insert links to related articles, YouTube videos and other Internet pages in your posts. The reasons are threefold, and on the surface they all look like good ones:

  1. Linking is easy and ubiquitous. Back in the bad old 56k dialup days, when writing web pages required a minimum of programming knowledge, inserting hyperlinks added to the amount of work you had to do. Plus, since there was less information on the Internet period, there wasn’t that much to link to anyway. Nowadays, with everyone and their grandmother hooked up to the Web and blogging platforms like WordPress taking the busywork out of writing, linking to other peoples’ work is second nature.
  2. Linking lets you buttress your arguments. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants, the countless other thinkers and philosophers whose writings have influenced our own. Citing the work of those who came before you adds heft and credibility to your own.
  3. Linking drives traffic to and from your site. Adding a link to someone else’s blog is one of the easiest ways to get them to notice you; some of them will even link you back as a gesture of appreciation. Even if they don’t, the pingback system on WordPress blogs lets you get traffic from just the link itself, as curious readers check out the comments.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to excessive linking: it ruins your readers’ ability to enjoy your own writing.

A lot of work has been published in the past few years on how online social networking is destroying peoples’ ability to focus and concentrate for long periods of time. Twitter, Facebook and the like are conditioning people to gobble up information in little pellets, making them increasingly incapable of reading and digesting anything longer than 500 words. It’s the reason for the popularity of those retarded bullet point infographics as well as list-based pop sites like Cracked and Buzzfeed: a bullet-point list is the only way you can relate information to the average reader nowadays.

Thanks to social networking, the average moron has a reservoir of knowledge that’s a mile wide and an inch deep.

The problem with this is that true knowledge can’t be compressed into a five-point list with pretty infographics and zany picture captions. In order to understand a work of fiction, learn a valuable skill or comprehend a philosophical idea, you need to be able to read for long periods of time. Not only that, you need to be able to retain the information you got from that reading, reflect on it and turn it over in your head. How much of what you read on the Internet can you remember a week later? A day? An hour?

About three years ago, I noticed that I was hardly reading books anymore, spending most of my reading time on the Internet. Not only that, I found that this impulsiveness and short attention span had carried over into other parts of my life as well. For example, whereas I could once play video games for an hour or even longer, I found myself getting bored and quitting every twenty minutes, only to start back up again ten minutes later.

To keep myself from backsliding, I limit the amount of time I spent browsing the Internet. I conduct regular purges of the sites I read, dumping those that I don’t care about, and only look at my RSS reader twice a day. I spend little time on Twitter or Facebook; I read maybe five percent of the posts/Tweets from people I follow.

And I also try to make it easier for my readers to do the same by not cluttering up my blog with links and ads everywhere.

The fact is is that if you put links in your blog posts, your readers will click on them. The more you put in, the more their attention is divided, and the less likely they are to retain anything they read. If you want them to better comprehend and digest your writing, you have to make sure they have as few distractions as possible. Therefore, you should only link to something if it is absolutely necessary for your readers to understand what you’re writing about. This includes links to your own posts; ideally, you should put those at the end so that you can benefit from increased traffic without breaking your readers’ concentration.

I try to follow this principle in other ways as well. For example, if you’ve bought the electronic editions of any of my books, you’ll note that I place external links and sources in endnotes, even though the Kindle and other e-readers are capable of utilizing links to Internet pages. This is because I don’t want to wreck my readers’ concentration. I want them to pay attention to what I’m saying and no one else. The links are there to build on the points I’m making, not replace them.

Another reason why you should limit your linking is because having to cite everything is a left-wing conceit. Because feminists and leftists are autistic and incapable of seeing the truth in front of their eyes, they demand a peer-reviewed source for every little thing that contradicts their worldview. You don’t need an external link to prove that being fat is unhealthy, that blacks are more inclined to criminality than whites, or anything else that is obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature.

When I first began blogging years ago, I used to hyperlink everything and anything. Nowadays, I try and have as few links in my articles as the law allows. If you want your writing to have a more lasting impact on people, you should do the same.

Read Next: Why You Should Start a Blog