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Friday, March 19, 2010

Hyperlinking Makes Hits and Happy Neighbors (So Advertise on the Madville Times!)

Last month I teased the Madison Daily Leader for not including hyperlinks in their news stories. I even offered to help them learn how to include a little a href tag ("the cornerstone" of Web coding) in each online story.

The response from a Madison Daily Leader employee (and I do quote): "Screw you." (Really. I'm not making this up.)

I extended a further offer to come and demonstrate link creation in person. I noted that hyperlinks drive Web traffic and improve functionality and visibility.

No response. Apparently, the idea of linking to other websites is too upsetting to the closed, hierarchical mindset that dominates Madison business and politics. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I can point to a somewhat happier beneficiary of hyperlinking. The Madison Area Arts Council reports that a single post here on the Madville Times last week doubled their web traffic for the day. The handful of hyperlinked mentions of MAAC on this blog have produced 40% of the referrals MAAC's website has received. The next biggest referrer to MAAC is another local blog, Horseshoe Seven. MDL and MadisonSD.com combined have produced maybe 1% of MAAC referrals.

When you use hyperlinks, you let the linked sites know that you're paying attention. You also give them concrete evidence that it was your material that drove them to the linked site. That makes the owners of the linked site like your site all the more. They probably link back, and then everyone gets more traffic.

Hyperlinks. Use them. They rock!

(And if you'd like a big bright hyperlink in the Madville Times ad bar, just give me a shout!)


  1. It's not your job to instruct the MDL crew on how to do their job. They are more than capable of putting hyperlinks on their website if they so choose.

    A word of warning about hyperlinks: the internet is a very dangerous place full of viruses and worms that can cause grief for your computer. Visiting the wrong website through a hyperlink can infect your computer instantly...even if you think you are protected.

  2. I appreciate and have read a lot of links that add or back up the story. Wish MDL would come up to speed rather than get defensive. I just canceled my subscription since I wasn't getting enough out of it. It would be in their best interest to listen to what people want.

  3. I just subscribed to the Cody Enterprise onine edition. It is a PDF version of the papper, ad inserts and all.

    Cody Enterprise Subscription Page

    I even clicked on a couple of hyperlinks and my computer still works!! Of course my computer has the latest anti-virus software, which anyone surfing the internet or checks E-mail should have.

  4. A big thanks to Madville for taking the lead, and linking the community, way to go, Cory!

    We've been taking Madville's lead, and adding to our ArtsLinks on our blog as well, creating the first complete page to include active links to other arts councils in the state.

    Links work, Madville now accounts for 50% of our known traffic, those are numbers to never doubt.

  5. The Cody on line version even has a guestbook for comments. They seem very neighborly.

    Here's the address, if you dare:


  6. "not your job"—surprisingly, Michael's response reveals how deeply ingrained that hierarchy I mentioned is in our local culture. It's not my job, it's not my place to speak up or offer advice or help, so I should... what? be quiet? let things be?

    Michael is right: it's not my job. I'm just a customer, a citizen, one of the people the hierarchy (in this case, MDL) claims to serve. Far be it from me to offer an idea that would improve that service and quite possibly increase readership and revenue. Since I'm not part of the hierarchy, the idea is obviously crap.

    Madison's hierarchy too often works along the lines of "Shut up and take what you're given." John's subscription cancellation shows what that attitude gets you in the modern economy.

    And Mark and John: the Cody Enterprise publishes hyperlinks and user content?! Holy cow!! You'd think there was a media revolution going on... oh, wait... there is!

  7. Cory-

    From the perspective of another small-town daily, hyperlinking isn't always as easy as it seems. I add hyperlinks to all my blog posts, but our regular articles almost never have them. There's a good reason — our web site is put online by the assistant editor, AFTER she finishes laying out and sending to press all the print pages. That is, she's usually putting things online around midnight each night at the end of a 12-hour day. And while adding a hyperlink is easy (our content management system includes a one-click option to do that) the problem is tracking down the URLs to link to.

    I'd love to see our articles full of links to previous stories on the same issue, articles in other papers covering it, or web sites or organizations mentioned in the story. But while we do sometimes include "on the web" sidebars at the bottom of stories, hunting down those web pages to link to is a lot of extra work and I understand, given our labor setup, why we don't do it at the Capital Journal.

  8. Have you ever ridden a horse that wants to run, but you pulled back on the reins hard enough to keep it from galloping? You end up with a trot, which is pretty bumpy. No hyperlinks...no comment section...both restrict viewership of the online product.

    The name of our local newspaper is the Madison Daily Leader, but the word "Leader" implies the latest innovation and technology to encourage interaction and participation.

    With that, I'll acknowledge the challenges of staying in a leadership position with declining advertising revenue, reduced subscription levels and finding qualified new employees in the smallest daily market in South Dakota. There are challenges with retraining experienced staff to accept new technology.

    Cory's product and Jon's products are wildly different. Jon must maintain balanced decorum or risk angry phone calls, losing subscriptions and ad revenue while Cory can rake and rip at-will with little risk.

  9. Reasonable, David: there are only so many hours in the day. And I'm not asking a news editor to go blog-gonzo and supply links in every paragraph (although fortune and the market favor the bold!). But when you have a story with obvious links—like when the people you interview provide two URLs with more information that enhances the story—that search time is zero, and the one-click content management system means it's easy to provide that valuable service to your customers.

    As Rod mentions, leadership in the marketplace is about innovation. Some publishers may say their staff is just too busy to provide that added service. The publishers who take the challenge and say the extra service is worth the effort will win customers and market share. At least that's how I hear business works....

  10. Robin Kemper3/30/2010 7:49 AM

    Anyone can create a hyperlink...even I have managed to figure out how to do this...it took about 2 minutes of self training. While it is not your job to INSTRUCT them, it IS their job to listen/know what people (customers) want. And how will they know unless we inform them?

    What also concerns me is the fact that an MDL employee responded "screw you" when they could have simply provided you with some sort of explanation why they don't do it. Take, for instance, the comment from David Montgomery. Perfect; not defensive, not nasty...simply a reasonable explanation.

    I am left with a bad feeling about the MDL. If I ever need to call them with a question regarding their content, a correction to their content, a suggestion for them...will they respond with "screw you"? In today's world, I need less of this attitude; plus I can go to many other places for a news source.


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