The Psychology of "Clicking the Link"

Peter B. Giblett By Peter B. Giblett, 6th Mar 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

I am a keen observer of people's actions and have noticed a few things while writing. This collection of thoughts is purely a rough set of observations nothing more nothing less. It cannot be viewed as scientific evidence as there is not enough information to demonstrate statistical significance.

A Hit Article

I recently published an article on Triond called Hacking Your Life - Facebook and Your Password and have gained a massive number of readers in seven days. Yet few of the referenced articles within this piece are picking up any hits at all.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the readership.

I count this as a hit because it has the greatest readership according to overall statistics, despite the article only having been published 7 days ago.

A Hit Series

At the beginning of 2012 I started a series of daily articles aimed at providing a series of daily inspirational thoughts for each day in the year. These and other Wikinut articles can be found here. Each article comes with links either to others in the series or to related information which the reader may find useful. These links are being explored by the readers on a regular basis.

The reason I know this is that when I explore daily statistics I see counts for other articles mentioned

Two Very Different Sites

One thing is very true Triond and Wikinut are very different sites. I would characterise Triond as being a series of on-line magazines and Wikinut as being more of a writers community (albeit that articles are published for public consumption). This probably shows in the respect that fellow writers have for each other and they actually take the time to explore links and assist their fellow writers by providing feedback.

I get more feedback on my thought-of-the-day series than I have ever had on any other articles, and the reason for this is that the series has been gathering its fans and they naturally give feedback on how the tips have been helping them.

Do You Select the Link?

You can tell when a piece of text is a link. It is normally underlined, but more importantly your default cursor changes to a hand with a finger pointing (as in the image displayed in this section). Of course this display will differ if you are using a Mac instead of a PC, or perhaps if you have altered your default icons within your settings.

There are two reasons to provide links. The first is for the benefit of the readers - to link them to other sources or information that the author found useful in writing this article. The second is for the benefit of the author - their other articles gain a higher search ranking for every in-bound link that is created.

It is good etiquette to recognise another author's work when you reference it, eventhough you may never be in contact with them or be in any way associated with them. You should give their work recognition by providing the link. Eric Enge in The Psychology of Linking suggests the following reasons for links

1 - Links as Genuine Citations
2 - Seeking Potential Linkers (to your site)

Yet does the reader ever select the link? It is probably true that only a small percentage of readers do click links on the page and they probably on select the links that can help them further.

The Psycology of "Clicking the Link"

Undoubtedly a whole field of psychology will probably be created around the question of why people do OR do not select links. It is easy to assume that the lazy reader simply reads the article in front of them then passes on to the next relevant one in their search results. Certainly there is a category of people who will do this - and we have all probably been there are some point in our life.

One element of links that needs to be considered is the fact that the author has collected some that they think to be relevant to their argument.

Again according to Enge:

"Some things that linkers are attracted to:

If you keep thinking about this, you begin to understand the wisdom of designing your site from the ground up to appeal to linkers

Yet it seems that readers are not attracted to the same concepts because they do not take the trouble to 'click the link'

In the Mind of the Reader

Ultimately for the writer they need to enter the mind of what the reader may be thinking in order to entice them into selecting a link on their page and clicking it. That of-course of a hard thing for any writer. Yet possibly the web writer needs to give it some thought when composing their next contribution.

BUT Perhaps we are out-thinking this whole issue.

Are their any deep thoughts going through the mind of the reader? Perhaps, perhaps not! Crack that conundrum and you can perhaps ensure your readership continues to grow and all your fans read everything you write.



Click The Link, In The Mind Of The Reader, Psychology

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
6th Mar 2012 (#)

very interesting what you say Peter and thanks for the one up on Triond...

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Mar 2012 (#)

It is true, writers and public speakers (as you also well know, Peter) must always keep their audience foremost in mind, if they want their article or speech to succeed.

As for getting people to click on the links, I have always found that I have better luck getting people to click on links if I embed the link in the body of the article than I do if I add the links as a list of links at the end of the article.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
6th Mar 2012 (#)

Jerry, Thank you. I have found in my Inspirational thought of the day series that putting the list of links at the end tends to bring clicks.

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author avatar Denise O
6th Mar 2012 (#)

Yet, I find I get more hits on my links if I post them on the bottom, funny huh. Mostly on my recipe and dog articles. I guess it is just as you stated, you need to get to know your reader. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
7th Mar 2012 (#)

I find that informative articles that provide more information on specific issues touched upon in another article tend to get more views, but often I really do not pay attention to where views come from.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th Mar 2012 (#)

Mark, Writing a series, which has links embedded in it, does give you the opportunity to observe on a day by day basis which articles are looked at. I therefore noticed that links were being clicked. This was not one day only but was happening repeatedly.

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author avatar Tranquilpen
7th Mar 2012 (#)

Great advice Peter thank you for sharing.

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
9th Mar 2012 (#)

Thanks, Peter. I am rather ashamed to say that I did my first link today. Songbird and Tranquilpen both encouraged me. It seems strange that you cannot use a title as a link.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
10th Mar 2012 (#)

Now you have created a link you should continue to use them in every article.

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author avatar Retired
9th Mar 2012 (#)

Good advice. Interesting subject. I think Jerry has a good point too about embedding the links.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
10th Mar 2012 (#)

Well said...

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author avatar Don Rothra
17th Mar 2012 (#)

Nice work.

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