We report the synthesis of 7 new para-phenylene-bridged zinc porphyrin dimers, five of which were characterized by single-crystal X-ray analysis. A variety of links were tested for holding the para-phenylene bridges in π-conjugation with the porphyrins, and the natures of these restraining links strongly influence the properties of the porphyrin dimers. The keto-linked dimer exhibits a long-lived singlet excited state and strong fluorescence at 960 nm (1.7% quantum yield) in contrast to most previously reported conjugated porphyrin tapes, which are essentially non-emissive. Replacement of the cross-conjugated keto links by directly conjugated C–C bonds eradicates the fluorescence and shifts the absorption maximum to 1077 nm. On the other hand, replacement of the keto links with non-conjugated CPh2 links confers fluorescence at 736 nm (10% quantum yield) and results in remarkably similar one- and two-photon absorption behavior to that of meso–meso ethynylene-bridged porphyrin dimers (peak two-photon cross section: 7,300 GM at 878 nm). Cross-conjugated keto links do more than just hold the para-phenylene bridge coplanar with the porphyrins; they reduce the HOMO–LUMO gap, although to a lesser extent than direct π-conjugated links. Planarized para-phenylene-bridged porphyrin dimers provide insights into the relationship between previously investigated classes of conjugated porphyrin oligomers, and they open up possibilities for the synthesis of new types of near-IR two-photon absorbing dyes.