Linking on News sites: Give a little to get a little

Links out = links in

That’s John Hassels simple headline for his post looking at the value of linking out from your site.

John picked up on a study by David Eaves of The SEO Company who challenges the received wisdom that links out leach traffic.

We believe that linking to useful websites doesn’t “leak” traffic – quite the opposite in fact. Offering useful links actually makes visitors more likely to return to see what other interesting websites they might find in the future, a model that sites such as Digg and Fark are built around.

The Chart is really interesting:

The response from the industry is just as interesting. James Montgomery of the FT.com has an odd take.

What I can say, regarding attribution by the FT to non-FT sources, is that one needs a clear distinction between “attribution” and “sourcing”, journalistically speaking. Citing a non-FT source would not, generally speaking, meet the FT’s required standards of verification. (Just because something is reported by the New York Times, say, doesn’t make it true, however much we implicitly believe what we read in that newspaper – we have to check for ourselves.)

I say odd – I searched for a word there – as it seems to feel a little like an excuse which might be unfair. But to be fair I think he has a good point in citing the difference between attribution and sourcing is an issue.

Is there more value both in terms of links and the ability to inform the audience and broaden their understanding than in owning the ‘veracity’ of the story. Tricky.

Still the apparent lack of external links is not just an ethical issue. Technology rears its ugly head,  as Times online search editor Drew Broomhall points out*:

Our outbound link count might even have been higher before the relaunch, a lot of links were lost due to html being stripped out of inline links when they migrated to a new CMS.”

He must have been beating his head against the desk.

*Disclosure: Great to see Drew quoted. He was a student of mine a few years ago. I’m very proud.

Zemanta Pixie

Leave a Reply