A Quick Talk about Outbound Links

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The more links to your site, the better chance that someone will be enticed to visit. However, a quid pro quo usually applies, and this means providing reciprocal links, giving people the opportunity to leave your site with the click of a button. To minimize this “flight effect,” make sure you place outbound links two or three layers down in your site. Never place outbound links on your home page. You want your visitors to come into your site and see and do everything you want them to see and do before they have the opportunity to go elsewhere.

There are two ways you can provide outbound links. The first is by providing a hypertext link, which transports the visitor from your site to someone else’s with a single click. The second and preferred method is to have each outbound link open a new browser window when clicked. This way your visitors get to see the referred Web site, but when they are finished and close that window, the original browser window with your Web site is still active. The browser window with your site should still be visible on the task bar during their visit to the referred site.

Regularly test all of the links from your site to ensure that they are “live” and are going to the intended locations. Dead links reflect poorly on your site even if they are out of your control. There are tools available online to help you determine whether you have dead links. These tools include NetMechanic at http://www.netmechanic.com (Figure 13.1). NetMechanic is discussed in more depth in the Internet Resources section of my Web site.

The NetMechanic site provides many valuable tools. Its HTML Toolbox can be used to find out if you have dead links on your site or if you have any HTML errors that need correcting.