Links are what make up the World Wide Web

Welcome to many of you who signed up for Conservative Blogging Tips at CPAC 2012. We at Western Center for Journalism are starting this blog to be a resource for conservative bloggers on our site as well as throughout the web. Our mission at The Western Center for Journalism is to Inform and Equip Americans That Love Freedom. Our main news and commentary section (composed of bloggers like you) is the “Informing” part of our mission. This blog will focus on “Equipping.” My name is Patrick Brown, and I’m the Director of Operations here at WesternJournalism.com. Everything I’ve learned here building up our own site, I’m happy to share with you.

Our first topic will be “The Importance of Linking.” Basic, yes I know, but what better place to start at?

Links are truly the foundation of the World Wide Web. The original term, “hyperlink” was coined in 1965 by researcher named Ted Nelson. He was working on a project called Xanadu, that sought to create a network of computers that were connected through a web of connecting links. Sound familiar?

Anyway, in the late 80s a man by the name of Tim Berners-Lee really connected the dots and created the protocols that eventually became what we now call the World Wide Web. Links are the connection between individual website pages. It is these millions upon millions of links which make up the web and connect human knowledge together. At first, people discovered new web pages only through links.

Then in the late 90s, a couple of Stanford grad students decided to upgrade basic search programs for use on the internet. Other search engines had been created before that searched web pages for keywords, but these guys had the innovative idea of using links as a measure of importance (The more links a page had to it, the more likely it was authoritative on its contextual subject.) These two grad students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, went on to found (you guessed it) Google, and changed the internet forever.

Based on this short history, you can start to see why linking is important. Here’s why it’s important for you, the blogger, specifically.

1. It gives the reader context and increases their trust in your work.

When journalists wrote in print, they used to have to have to write short introductions to news stories so that readers would know some of the back story. Now, bloggers can simply link to an older post that they or someone else wrote and, if a reader wants to get updated, all they have to do is click a link. Readers who already know what is going on simply can keep reading.

Similarly, just as you put footnotes in research papers, you can simply link to other webpages to back up what you are writing. If you make a controversial claim, or reference a study or news story, you can (and should) link to the older post. This gives readers the ability to check your sources, and in the end, increases their trust in your work. For example, I say that Eric Holder lied about Fast and Furious, I would say, Eric Holder lied about Fast and Furious.

2. It serves as a way to communicate with other bloggers.

Linking is a form of communication. When you link to another blogger, oftentimes they see the link and link back to you in response to your post. Linking can open up a whole new world of information, as other bloggers begin to cite your work and contact you to learn more. This leads to the next reason a blogger should post:

3. It builds your readership.

As soon as you enter this new world of linking and communication, you become part of a larger conversation. This means that bloggers will link to you as you produce quality content, and consequently more people will become aware of your work. Additionally, the more links you bring back to your content, the more likely Google will list your post as higher on search engine results pages. We will go more in depth about this subject, called Search Engine Optimization, as time goes on, but for now, just know that the more quality links you receive to your content, the better.

Hopefully, this post has given you something to think about. I encourage each of you to experiment with linking to others and see what sort of result you get. And, before you go, comment below and tell us what you think about linking and why it is important. I’ve only included three reasons, but the reasons are truly countless. For my next post, I’ll describe exactly how to link to another website. (And I’ll update this page to link to that new post :) )

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