Understanding the value of accurate hyperlinks
Using hyperlinks helps guide visitors on your site. But how well do you fact-check the information when you are linking to a third-party site? Linking to outdated and inaccurate information can deter users from coming back. Users want to trust the sites they are searching, and bad data takes away some of that trustworthiness.
Make sure your hyperlinks go to the intended site.
Link to reputable sites.
Double-check the information on the site you are linking to for accuracy. Even reputable sites have outdated information sometimes.
This morning, my husband shared a website with me from one of the big pharmaceutical companies. The site shows they joined the telemedicine bandwagon, likely trying to boost sales of their medications. The website focuses on three areas of treatment - diabetes, obesity, and migraines. The idea of a pharmaceutical company offering a direct link to their drugs is intriguing but not surprising. This is a great way for the company to market the medications it produces while boosting profits by cutting out the middleman. The increasing popularity of telehealth and mail-order pharmacies makes this much easier to do.
As I clicked through the links, looking at their setup and offerings, I encountered a big problem. There are hyperlinks to third-party telehealth providers and their in-house pharmacy. The site heavily focuses on the consumer seeking telemedicine, which is not the problem.
The site recognizes that some people still prefer meeting their healthcare provider face-to-face. It helpfully provides a hyperlink to a third-party site that shares a list of doctors a patient can find in their local area. When I clicked the link, a long list of providers in my region came up. Here is where I found the problem. Because I live and practice in a small rural community, I am familiar with the other providers nearby. The top doctor on the website’s list was a very prominent physician in my area…until he retired about 20 years ago. He rated 4.2 stars! The website inaccurately indicated not only that he is still practicing but that he is taking on new patients. Looking down the list at the rest of the names, I see several who are no longer practicing in my community.
The healthcare provider website the pharmaceutical company linked to is very well known. However, as a healthcare provider myself, I know that particular website is often outdated. The site relies heavily on the providers themselves or others to keep the information up-to-date. Very few providers do. The link from the pharmaceutical company also did not pull in names of nurse practitioners, which are much more commonly found in primary care clinics these days due to a shortage of doctors. Especially in rural areas like mine.
It is important to understand the value of accurate hyperlinks. When creating content for webpages, the accuracy of the linked information should be as important as the SEO needed to bring the clicks to the site. The hyperlink I found on the pharmaceutical site is a perfect example of how a website, even a prominent one, will not necessarily offer the most reliable information. Inaccurate information can deter people from returning to your site and clicking the links. Always make sure to do your research to double-check information when providing links to third-party websites.
What are your tips for verifying information online?