Let's Talk Links

By Brenda Essig aka Zanymuse (Zanymuse) on May 23, 2010

A link is a key that opens file cabinets and the files they hold for our use. Link "keys" open the world to us and we are able to find information and entertainment quickly and easily at anytime of the day or night. Such a richness of information has never before been available in the history of mankind...and now it is available to much of the worlds population.

LinksWithout links the internet would be impossible to navigate. They are the means our computers and hand held devices use to locate specific files and display those files to us and others around the globe. They allow web search engines to locate our information and send the address back to us so we can click and be granted access to a file.

Without links we could spend a lifetime knocking on doors trying to find the information now available with the click of a button.

 door to door search.jpg


Check the links on your site regularly to be sure they are working properly and that the pages they link to are currentIt is frustrating to get those pesky "page not found" notices.

Don't hot link to a picture or file on another site! This is THEFT of bandwidth and content. It can also prove to be embarrassing. I recently read about a website that became so fed up with someone hotlinking to their images that they switched the images out and kept the same address for them. Links that originally showed cute photos of puppies and kittens were changed so that the new images it linked to were  some rather disgusting images of animal feces and pornography.

STOP and THINK before you LINK! Is that cute little puppy's picture really important enough to brand youself as a thief and risk prosecution?  Is there a legal way to share it with your visitors?

If that image is  really wonderful  and you believe it is important for your visitors to see it then you can proceed legitimately in one of two ways. You can try to contact the owner and request their permission to use the image or you can make a link to their page and trust that your visitors will return after they have gone to the other site.

 So...what is the difference between a link and a hotlink?

A link takes you directly to a file or a web page. In the case of images those files should be  uploaded to your web sites files folder where it is stored and linked to using codes such as [ img] your address/your files.jpg[/img].   A Hotlink would  be [ img]their address/their files.jpeg]

Is it ever ok to hotlink to another site? The simple answer is ...only if the site owner gives you permission to do so or you own the site and you are the one paying for the bandwidth. An example of acceptable hotlinking is youtube videos where they actually encourage the practice. Another is when your photo storage site allows hotlinking.  Even with a paid photo storage site it is  important that you link only to images that you own and that you have read the terms of service carefully to be sure that they allow that type of useage.

Linking to another site does not require you to ask permission. It is nice to leave a message in a guest book stating that you like a site. Feedback like that is always welcome. You might also tell them that you are adding a link to them on your site in order to let your friends know about them.  Most people look forward to seeing a response to their site. It boosts their morale and brightens their day...I know it does mine!


There is no need to email every site you link to and ask for their permission.  Email accounts are  often bombarded with spam and your message may end up in the trash file. Websites WANT to be found. By linking to them you are doing them a service as well as a service to your visitors by refering them to valued information. No one starts a public website hoping it won't be seen!

Reciprocal Links: Many people feel that demanding  a link to your own site in return for you linking to theirs is insulting. I have read several webmasters who refer to reciprocal linking as "hostage links" and "blackmail links". If their site is good and you believe it will benefit your visitors, link to it without adding strings. Trust that your own site will develop  a following and that others will link to yours because it merits the link.

 Placing links to your site in visible places like blogs, facebook or registries  and asking your friends to spread the news about your site, are good ways to boost traffic  and  help drive traffic your way. Remember that a link is equivalent to an endorsement. Your site can be judged by the value of the links you offer. This is another reason to be careful with reciprocal linking. Link only to sites that are worthy of your readers consideration.

Don't add links to sites that are unrelated in topic. It confuses the reader. If they found you by looking for plants don't send them off with a link to some cute movie star, funny cartoon or new site that has nothing of interest on the topic they are researching.

Links are keys...we need them...but we don't give our car keys to just anyone who might want them...we use our discretion... we need to apply that discretion to the link keys we give out on our web sites as well... use them often but use them with care.

Search engines see links and follow them. If it sees the links are to and from sites of little or no actual content or to "link farms" generated simply as a way to fool the bots and hike a site's rankings the site can actually be hurt when the search engine responds by blocking the site from it's searches.

Google may temporarily or permanently remove sites from its index and search results if it believes it is obligated to do so by law, if the sites do not meet Google's quality guidelines, or for other reasons, such as if the sites detract from users' ability to locate relevant information. We cannot comment on the individual reasons a page may be removed. However, certain actions such as cloaking, writing text in such a way that it can be seen by search engines but not by users, or setting up pages/links with the sole purpose of fooling search engines may result in removal from our index. Please read our Webmaster Guidelines for more information.

The quote above was taken from  GOOGLE 

All the major search engines have similar notices posted. Take it seriously. They do!

This brings me to the end of my article. I had no idea when I started this that I had so much to say on the subject and I enjoyed writing it. I hope you got something out of it too.

Related articles:
bandwidth theft, hot-links, hyperlinks, links

About Brenda Essig aka Zanymuse
I have been playing on the www for many years and in the process have created several small web sites. I am curious by nature and the opportunity to be a small part of this new community as it evolves has been a real pleasure.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Keep coming back Bubbles Jul 30, 2010 5:59 PM 1
Another great one valleylynn May 24, 2010 5:45 PM 2

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