Everything You Need to Know About Using Internal Links to Promote Articles On Medium
Internal links can be used to increase your audience, article engagement and earnings on Medium.
A Word About Including Links in Your Articles
While most of us are likely looking to earn as much as possible from our Medium articles, it’s important to remember that readers are not reading your articles to make you money. With all the content available, not just on Medium but elsewhere on the internet, it’s likely that they can find an article on same topic as yours that doesn’t feel excessively self promotional.
Internal links connect one page of a website to a different page on the same website. On Medium this can be done in two different ways, link boxes and hyperlinks. Both can be used to point the reader to another article on Medium.
The next part is just my own personal opinion on what feels to me like too much in terms of links. I may sound overly critical about this topic and I suspect many readers out there are more forgiving than I am. But if there is even a handful of people who feel the same way it seems worth it, at least to me, to avoid doing things that might cause you to lose them as readers.
You have probably seen these types of links in various articles on Medium. Some writers use them at the end of an article and some use them in the middle of the text. Less often, you may find them in both places.
When using link boxes at the bottom of an article, I think that sometimes there is a tendency to leave as many as possible. Be careful about doing this. I know personally, when I get to the end of an article, especially if the article isn’t particularly long, and there are five or six boxes linking to other articles by the same author, minimally I roll my eyes.
I may not remember that writer’s name the next time I see one of their articles that looks interesting. But if I get to the bottom of that one and again there are a half a dozen other article link boxes, I will remember the name in the future when I come across it.
Unless the first two articles were what I considered to be high value, meaning I related to them, found them really interesting or filled with useful, practical information, chances are good I won’t click other articles by that writer, at least for a while. If the articles were wonderful, I may just stick to rolling my eyes when I encounter future articles, providing they, too, are valuable to me, but I may make a point of ignoring the boxes at the bottom if there are too many.
Link boxes can also be put in the middle of the text. When there is just one or two and no others at the bottom it usually seems fine to me as long as they are relevant and the reason they were included is clear. I do find it annoying when there are link boxes just stuck in the article every so often that have nothing to do with the one I’m reading.
The easiest way to create a link box is to just copy the url for the article you want to provide the link to, paste it where you want the box to go and hit enter to convert it into an embedded box.
Instead of using link boxes at the end, some articles may have embedded links in the text. These are also called hyperlinks. You can tell that they are there because the text is underlined (unless it’s underlined just for emphasis). I personally feel the best use of hyperlinks is for external linking to additional information or resources that add to the article. This is probably the use that most readers are familiar.
Hyperlinks can also be used as internal links to your other articles. Just be aware that users may ignore these links when they are internal links as they can interrupt the flow of their reading. Since Medium articles generally stand alone it is less likely that the reader will feel they need to click on one of the writer’s previous articles to understand the current one.
When I finish reading an article, I will usually clap and often comment, then move onto something else. I rarely remember that there were embedded links so, personally, I am not going to click on these. Providing there are just a few, it’s not a matter of being turned off, it’s just a function of memory.
That being said, the same principle mentioned about the link boxes applies to embedded links. When I see an article filled with them, especially if it seems like the article was written just to provide content to stuff full of links, I will not read the article. Whereas with the other type of links, at least I will have read the article before becoming annoyed, embedded links are obvious as soon as I look at an article so if there are too many, I am likely to click off without reading any of it.
I haven’t used internal hyperlinks in my content so I don’t know first hand how they perform in terms of increasing traffic to other articles. I know that there are a number of Medium writers who consistently use them and do this well so I imagine they can be helpful. Part of doing this well is using natural language for good readability and so there’s no awkwardness.
When I’ve come across these in other people’s articles unless they seem to be occurring every few sentences, I don’t find them nearly as distracting as the big boxes with the previews in the middle of the text. You still have to be careful with these for the same reason as with the preview boxes in terms of people clicking away and not returning.
The one thing I do use hyperlinks for is for directing readers to my profile at the very end of an article. This gives them the option of seeing a list of all of the articles I’ve published on Medium and deciding which they want to read instead of having just one or two options to choose from.
To create hyperlinks you simply highlight the text you want to use as an anchor at which point a box will pop up with several options one of which is the link symbol. Click that, enter the url into the box that comes up and hit enter and you have a hyperlink.
Articles with Both Types of Links
I’ve seen articles that are filled with hyperlinks throughout, and then have three or more additional ones the end. Personally, this discourages me from reading the article and when the piece feels like it is just fluff used as a means of listing another 10 or more articles written by the same person, it’s sometimes enough to put me off the writer entirely.
Even when it’s well done, it feels much the same as advertising articles that are clearly just trying to get me to buy something and which don’t provide anything of value in return. It may be that the article does provide value despite the constant links to other articles but I won’t find out because by the third self promotion link in the first 100 words I will definitely have clicked off the article and will not have clicked on any of the hyperlinks or link boxes. I don’t think I’m alone as far as this reaction is concerned.
Internal links used to promote your content can be very effective. When viewers read one an article they love, they will want to read more posts written by the same person. Making it easy for them by giving them links so they just have to click to find more of your writing is a great way to turn readers into followers. Both hyperlinks and link boxes can be useful ways of getting viewers to read other articles you’ve written.
On a platform like Medium where new content is promoted much more heavily than old, links used on new posts which direct the reader to older posts can keep consistent traffic flowing to all of your stories. Making sure that you follow a few guidelines can improve the likelihood that this will happen. These include:
- Don’t use too many of either kind of link. Try to stick to 2–3 maximum.
- Make sure the articles you are linking to are related to the one they are reading
- If you use links in the middle of the text, be sure that it is clear why you put the link where you have.
- If you are using hyperlinks, make sure they are incorporated naturally and don’t seem awkward.
By using links in a well thought out manner as part of your self-promotion efforts, you can increase your readers, engagement and earnings and build an audience of fans that will continue to read your work long into the future.
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