Using Hyperlinks in Your Blog Posts

Hyperlinks (see my earlier post to learn what these are) connect you with other places on the web.  Which is good.  Google likes this, so does Yahoo and Bing.

More than that - readers like this, and so do the folk who are responsible for the places you are sending your readers to via these hyperlinks.

It's not as direct an introduction as Twitter, but trust me: I know who links to my blogs because I have stats that give me this information. You probably check your stats, too, right? Ever go see who has been sending traffic your way? (For details on Trackbacks and Pingbacks, go here.)

I've built blog rolls based upon the sites that have had the courtesy of linking to my blogs.  I've emailed these bloggers, or placed their blogs in my readers, etc.  I've returned the favor and linked to posts or articles they've written within my blog posts.

Of course, it's important to do this in a professional and responsible manner. Some don't and you know who they are.

One easy and smart use of hyperlinks for lawyers: link the case name to the actual opinion at the court's website. I do this as a standard practice at Terry Lenamon's Death Penalty Blog -- saves time, and lots of those readers want to read the full opinion (and the dissents).


Blogging Tip: Who R U Writing 4? Build a Profile of Your Readers and Write for Them, Not You

I consult with attorneys on how to write blog posts. Their blogs may be firm blogs or they may be personal blogs covering any number of personal interests.  One thing ribbons through lots of these chats, though:  lawyers tend to focus on the issue and not on the reader.

Which is fine, it’s what good lawyers do.  Take issues and break them apart.  Dogs getting every bit of meat off the bone. 

Problem is: readers may not care.  Or maybe they care about the issue, but they don’t want to read in depth about it.  They may surf right on by your great blog post. 

Here’s the thing.  You want to connect with your readers.  To do that, you need to know who they are
Thing about who you want to read your blog on a regular basis.  What other sites would they be visiting during their day?  Go read their content.
If you’re really dedicated here, then build a profile – one or more.  Ponder demographics (I’m thinking here of law firms who are blogging as a marketing strategy) if you want to get serious.  If not, just make a short list of characteristics that your readers will share.  Moms.  Divorcees.  Bankers.  Investors.  Brokers.  Foodies. Whatever. 


Google Scholar Keeps Getting Better as a Free Legal Research Tool

Google Scholar has been around for several years now, and I've been monitoring it as a free, online legal research tool.  As you'd expect from Google, they keep building upon this product and their latest tweak involves allowing you to perform searches within specific jurisdictional databases.  Search their entire federal database, or search within one appellate circuit.  Limit your search to a particular state.  You get the idea.

How good is Google Scholar -- and how up to date? 

Well, today I was working on a blog post with Terry Lenamon on the Texas case where a state district judge wanted to hold an evidentiary pretrial hearing on the constitutionality of Texas' system of capital punishment, and how the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals slapped him down (at least for now).

I found the opinion (actually there are two) on the court's official web site.  However, on a whim, I just checked the Google Scholar Advanced Search and yep.  There they were.  Both opinions.   

So, Google Scholar is good, and getting better, but not great.  Yet.  But if I were Lexis or Westlaw, I'd be worried. 


What are Hyperlinks?

If you want to be technical, there are different types of hyperlinks: absolute, relative, internal, external, etc. 

Let's not get technical.

Let's just go over the absolute basic information that you need to know if you are writing a blog - or adding content to your web site.  Hyperlinks help you provide better content and you should use them. 

What is a hyperlink?

A hyperlink is a bit of text that appears in a different font color, letting the reader know that clicking on that text will allow them to go to another website that provides information about the text itself.

Insert them into your post by blocking the targeted text and then finding the word "link" or an infinity sign (or sideways 8) in your blogging platform's palette; click on this hyperlink icon and a window will appear, allowing you to insert the url for the hyperlink. 

Why hyperlinks are helpful:

  1. Hyperlinks can provide support for your post (e.g., you reference source material, and hyperlink to its website).
  2. Hyperlinks can save time (instead of providing the recipe, just link to where it can be found on the web).
  3. Hyperlinks can build traffic for you (assuming that you are linking to sites or blogs that have traffic which may find you via the hyperlink).
  4. Search engine optimization benefits from hyperlinks; for how that happens, go read the posts here that discuss how Google, etc. search and rank.


Stand Up While You Are Reading This

Like many of us, I spend way too much time setting in a chair, staring at a screen.  I'm learning that this is bad for your body. I'm discovering that doctors (and researchers) are investigating the many ways that this may detrimentally impact our health - even if we have a routine exercise schedule and consider ourselves to be physically fit.

It seems that the simple act of sitting for an extended period of time is bad for our internal organs, as well as our joints, etc.  Answers?  Regularly moving - standing, stretching, moving every thirty minutes or so is being discussed.

So are standing desks. Check out this cool standing desk setup here.

It may take me awhile to get there, but I think a standing desk might be a nice thing to own. I'm gonna check into it. 


Twitter Tip: What is a Hashtag?

Organize your tweet according to its topic(s) within your tweet by using a hashtag (#) - which is the number sign found on your QWERTY keyboard above the number 3.

Using this symbol (without a space) allows you to place your tweet into a Twitter stream that is filled with other tweets sharing that same topic.

For example, #Facebook in your tweet will place it amidst countless other tweets that are discussing that social networking site in some way.

Why should you care?
  1. Hashtags help driving trending topics -- when breaking news is happening, the hashtag symbol allows all sorts of folk who don't follow each other to share information. 
  2. Hashtags will help you find tweets that you find interesting on Twitter.  
  3. Hashtags will help strangers (and new followers) find you.  
  4. Hashtags will help your tweets appear in Twitter Search.
You can put your hashtag anywhere within your tweet.  Most folk (like me) stick them on the end.  For examples, just go surf around Twitter for a bit.


Writing Old School - Penmanship and the Fountain Pen

I love my keyboard, don't get me wrong, but I still enjoy writing by hand.

I'm old enough to remember when every lawyer had to have his or her own Montblanc pen (mine was pretty and feminine and silver with a sweet leather case; I still have it) - and you whipped that puppy out at depositions or hearings just like you would unsheath a dagger.

[By the way, check out the Montblanc website. Wow. It's wonderful.]

Over time, I've lost the pretty penmanship that I once had. It was something that I took pride in, truth be told, and I remember getting compliments on my handwriting.

Not today, boy howdy. It's a scrawl. I just don't write by hand that much these days. I'm out of practice. That's changing.

One thing I did: I went and bought some cool pens. The one that I'm really having fun with right now: my Varsity Disposable Fountain Pen.

It's light in my hand, and its retro packaging reminds me of the 1940s tho I don't know that back in the day they provided the handy ink window that the Varsity does. I like to imagine that Bacall used a pen similar to this in all those notes she must have written to Bogie.  You get the idea. 

And here's the thing:  as I write by hand, I am realizing that it helps my writing.  Writing by hand, you are forced to go slower than typing on a keyboard.  Words get time to get pondered in a way that the computer doesn't allow. 

The pleasure of words - synonyms, variations in use, origins.  Writing with a pen encourages my wonder and I like this, I've missed it. 

So, in my journal and on conference calls these days, I'm writing with an actual fountain pen. I enjoy it. Maybe you will too. Pick up a cool pen and try it.


Blog Writing Tip: Remember the Reader's Screen Size

Odds are high that you read lots of things off of a very small screen.  Look at your phone, check out your e-reader.  Tiny, right? Especially when it's compared to that laptop or desktop sitting on your desk, where you probably write the content that you are publishing on the web.

Here's my suggestion: remember this when you are writing your posts for the blog or your articles for the web site. Short sentences are good. Short paragraphs are better.

Headings in bold or italicized fonts help the reader scroll through long content. Hyperlinks should open into a new window, too - helps you keep that reader that might just keep on surfing.

Little things count on the web. Screen size is one of them.