When I was bored or couldn’t sleep at college, I often found myself aimlessly cruising the Internet, searching for something to keep my mind occupied. Eventually, I came up with a way to “hop” from one site to the next, using the first site’s links and affiliates page to discover more sites I’d never been to before.
This was in the days before StumbleUpon, so I had to devise my own way of doing it. Try the following process:
Do the Link Hop!
- Search for anything you’re interested in, using whatever search engine you prefer. This can be a topic, a TV show, a name, a style–anything!
- Scan the list of results for anything that catches your eye. (Beware of scammy or spammy-sounding sites!)
- Open one link and check it–see if it’s really got anything that interests you.
- If you like what you see, make a note of the site by bookmarking/favoriting it.
- Now, go to the site’s links/affiliates pages and check each one, seeing whether any of these sites sound interesting. (I find it easier to open each of these new links in a new tab or new window so that you can keep track of “where you’ve been” so far.)
- As with the first site, bookmark or favorite any sites that you really like.
- Then, go to the new site’s links/affiliates page, and check out each one in the same way.
How Does This Relate to Web Design and Development?
I find that this is a great way to discover possible new affiliates and link exchanges. By searching for my site’s topic, I can find other sites that are related or on the exact same topic, and by offering to at least link-exchange, we can help each other get more traffic and be more visible on the Internet.
This is also a way for you to find out what kinds of sites are already on the Internet, in case you want to occupy a small niche within your chosen topic rather than trying to cover it all. If there are tons of gardening sites, for instance, you might want to focus your gardening site on growing your favorite flower, instead; if there are thousands of sites about Twilight (as I’m sure there are), you might want to focus your Twilight-themed site around a specific concept in the books or movies.
Most likely, you’re going to come across some sites which you won’t be interested in adding, but you’re also going to net at least one or two that are worth bookmarking. If you continue clicking through sites, bookmarking the ones you like and exploring their links to find more, who knows how many new sites you could discover? This can help you both as a web designer and as a web surfer–kill two birds with one stone!
I find this to be a very relaxing pastime, as well as a fruitful one. Try it sometime, when boredom or insomnia has eaten your will to do anything but sit at the computer–see what you can find while exploring on the wild, wild Web!