2 min read

If it's online, link to it

If you worked at a radio station, wouldn't you use audio recordings? Wouldn't you use interviews and sound bites and sound effects?
If you worked at a television station, wouldn't you use video? Wouldn't you use clips and blue screens and Chyron graphics?
If you worked at a newspaper, wouldn't you use print? Wouldn't you use photographs and illustrations and words?
So why would you work online and not use links?
Take a look at this article on BtoB online. It's a fairly interesting piece about a new search tool at Forbes.com. But god help you if you want to actually take a look at what the article is discussing -- because the writer hasn't included links in the copy.
That's not unusual at BtoB online, which seems not to understand its medium. It's not unusual anywhere at Crain. Take a look at TVweek.com, which also seems not to have noticed that it's published on the Web.
Failing to understand the advantages of Web publishing is fairly common among B2B companies. For example, Lebhar-Friedman's Drug Store News (free registration required) is generally a fairly Web-savvy site. The design is crisp, there's a feedback function on stories to send a letter to the editor, and you can email stories easily to friends. But there are no hyperlinks in the stories themselves.
Compare those dump-the-text-on-the-Webpage abominations with this very simple use of the Web by Farm Progress. Take a look a look at this article about a court document. You'll see that the writer had the good sense to link to the document in question.
Or take a look at CFO, which I've said before is one of the best publications in our industry. CFO seems to understand Web journalism...sometimes. It links externally in its blog, but tends not to use links in its online articles.
I've heard the arguments against linking. They range from the cowardly (we don't want our readers to leave our site because they may not come back) to the stupid (our content management system doesn't allow for links) to the lazy (I don't have time to add links).
Let me say this as clearly as I can -- none of those arguments are valid.
And let me ask you this -- how would you react to an editor who said he didn't use photos in his magazine because photography was too complicated to learn, distracted from the text and was time-consuming?
Wouldn't you fire him?