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To link or not to link?

Why don’t I link to anything except my own stuff here?

To that in a moment.

I just read a post by Amanda Natividad who does content marketing at Spark Toro. She talks about “zero-click content”, or trying to beat social media platforms at their own game by posting content that’s valuable in itself, without any outbound links.

In her own words:

“More than two-thirds of Google Search results end without a click. Social media platforms reward platform-native content — as in, content without any outbound links.

But it’s not even just the above platforms. It’s user behavior, too. Nobody opens up the Twitter app in hopes of leaving the Twitter app.

So if your day-to-day involves making sure people see your content, you would be wise to play into this zero-click behavior.

I agree for the most part, but there’s a nuance to it.

It depends on your goal.

If you just want eyeballs on your content when it’s on social media, sure go ahead and offer valuable insights, no links.

That’s a good long-term strategy.

But what if you want action?

When what you’re looking for is direct response and feedback, then, I still think linking from your social media posts is valuable.

Sure, platforms might give you fewer views.

But the right people will engage. And when that happens, especially if you take them on to a media you own, you’ll have gotten far higher ROI out of your content.

And let’s revisit this statement: “Nobody opens up the Twitter app in hopes of leaving the Twitter app.”

Well…what is this based on? Has anyone run studies? I wouldn’t bet on it.

There are a lot of instances when I head on Twitter just looking for articles I can save to read later. That needs a link for me to click on.

What about doom scrolling? There’s nothing better than an outbound link to make you feel better for wasting hours sifting through walls of tweets. To finally put an end to the suffering.

The platform might not like it, but users? That’s another thing.

But wait a second…. Ever noticed I don’t link to anything that’s not my own stuff in these emails? You might say “Chris, you’re not walking the talk here!”.

Thing is, email is different.

This is my own media. I could walk away from the email platform I’m using and still keep my list.

Makes sense I direct any and all clicks to my content.

And honestly, I believe it encourages people (and myself) to sit with the content for a while without opening endless tabs they’ll never actually check out.

So my rules of thumb?

  • Use outbound links if it’s your own media and your own resources.
  • Use outbound links even on social media, when you want people to commit and take action. Not always but when it’s right.

What’s your take? Let me know.

(and yes, if you want to talk about working together to craft your CTA copy, get in touch)

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