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Hey, AP: Here’s How To Link Properly

December 2, 2010

The AP is hopeless and useless when it comes to linking.

Check out this story about a Naval officer in Kitsap charged with assault in its native AP format:

Image of how AP cites websites in text(Note: I’m not picking on The Seattle Times; I just happened to locate this story on their site via a Google search.)

I noticed the same story on the AP wire and corrected how the link was presented before I posted it to

Image of the way AP should cite websites in text(Note: Blue, bold text = hyperlink.)

The difference is that the AP’s way of citing websites doesn’t give any meaningful credit to the sites they take information from — that is, those sites receive no link referrals, which would otherwise help boost their search engine rank. Readers are left copy/pasting a link to a home page and then searching around for the original story if they want more information (guess how often people do that). What if a reader access this story a year from now and wants to look at the original report from the referenced site?

One of my favorite things about my new job is that I can correct this, to a certain degree (again: mountain of AP content).

I’ll continue to alter the AP’s linking style when I find AP content that I want to post to’s home page, but it’s far too late in the game for the AP to still be optimizing for print. Presenting HTML-encoded wires should be standard. It’s pretty easy to delete the code (especially when staffs have all day to work on a newspaper); it’s a hell of a lot harder to comb through all of these referenced websites and put the code in.

Just for posterity, here’s the Kitsap Sun’s original report.

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