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WaPo Takes Reporters to School of Hard Links

Top brass at WaPo is instructing their reporters on the importance of linking stories today. At the direction of Executive Editor Steamed Marcus Brauchli, reporters are being taught the basics with all the sophistication of Thomas the Tank Engine. “Links are the signposts of the Internet,” Brauchli and Co. write in an office-wide email. “Without them we lose readers.”

Other standout lines:

  • The Washington Post is a very trusted source with a very high Google ranking. By not linking other Washington Post stories to your own, you’re denying yourself a lot of Google-driven audience.
  • A link example: “The Emmy Awards [link goes to early Post piece on the Emmys] will reward the best that TV has to offer on Sunday night.”

Read the full internal memo…

Colleagues
We wanted to address some prevailing confusion in the newsroom about why
it’s vital that we link both internally and externally to other content in our stories, on blogs and even in captions.

Links are the signposts of the Internet. Without them, we lose readers. This may seem counterintuitive, especially when it comes to external links. But when links are properly placed, they send people deeper into Post content. With external links, we guide readers — with one click — to the report we are quoting or the story from another source we are referencing. With a simple link, we avoid sending readers on a frustrating journey to learn more about what we are already writing about. Finally, from a strategic perspective, links are key to expanding our audience. Google was built around academic citation: The content that gets the most links from trusted sources gets the highest spot in search results. The Washington Post is a very trusted source with a very high Google ranking. By not linking other Washington Post stories to your own, you’re denying yourself a lot of Google-driven audience.

The people best positioned to provide links are those who create content in
our newsroom. We can always try to enhance links during the editing/publishing process as well, but given the volume of stories and the importance of speed, stories that land with links in them go a long way
toward doing what is right by our readers. Please be extra-generous, especially when it comes to internal links. Contrary to perception, the reality is we never turn off or turn away readers because we have give [sic] them more links.

Below is a quick list on best linking practices.

1. INTERNAL LINKS:
Link relevant Post content to a keyword phrase. Google bots index our site many ways. When we link a phrase, the bots see it as an indication that we think that link best explains that keyword phrase. They will give the linked story a boost.

Example: “The Emmy Awards [link goes to early Post piece on the Emmys] will
reward the best that TV has to offer on Sunday night.”

2. EXTERNAL LINKS:
When you’re referencing an outside source or an article, link to it. If you fear you’re going to send people off your article immediately, then consider how that link is placed.

Example: “Monroe would have turned 100 this year. But my knowledge of him
was mostly through a greatest-hits compilation, a Smithsonian Folkways
[Link goes to external page about the record] live record and some vinyl I
never got around to playing much.”

3. LINKS IN THE PAPER:
When there is a report mentioned in the paper that we have online, give people a shortened URL so they can find it on washingtonpost.com. We have a deal with Bitly (https://bitly.com/) that allows us to turn any Post URL to a shortened wapo.st link. You can use the Bitly service for external links as well.

If you have any questions, please contact BLANK@washpost.com.

Marcus  Raju   Liz

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