Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Tear In The Link Economy Fabric

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Jason Lee Miller
A Tear In The Link Economy Fabric
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

For a decade and a half the outbound link was a "hat tip," a courtesy or even system of content reimbursement; the "Web" is a web because of linking, each quality website helping to prop up another. It was actually kind of socialist in nature.

Editor's Note: Is self-linking a violation of unwritten Internet rules or just business smarts? Is it really a tear in the link economy fabric or just part of the next evolution? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Violating those linking principles was cause for, at least, a sarcastic tiff between web publishers, and at worst it was cause for extremist, reactionary bloviating about linking etiquette—actual nonbinding rules for how to link, when to link, and where in the text to link. Some have even tried to make a legal issue of it.

Those socialistic linking days may be finished in the interest of audience herding. Instead of sending visitors to other sites, major online news sources are developing ways to keep their visitors on the premises as long as possible. An answer to the decline of print? You bet. In a non-subscription, ad-supported world, it's not just about traffic, not just about page views, but also user engagement.

The New York Times, for example, which at one point was making an effort to link to third parties, is increasingly linking back to itself, either to NYT articles related to the topic, or to its own topic pages. This may be done instead of linking to a website that is the actual subject of the article. BusinessWeek now has topic pages; TechCrunch has Crunchbase.

Have you noticed the increase in multi-page articles and photojournalism pieces you have to keep clicking through to read or see in their entirety? It'd be interesting to see the stats on how much these structures boost the page view count for the sales department.

It's impossible (for me) to put a moral judgment on this. It's smart is what it is, and seems it would seem entirely fair (and shrewd) if smaller publications approached it the same way. We'd make a case study of it and recommend it to everyone. Make your site your own resource. Cannibalize your links, control your traffic, increase your page views, and make your newly created resource so search-engine trusted that, for whatever topic, you have a chance of popping up high in the results.

Brilliant, right?

Well, yeah, but it is kind of unsettling because it indicates a major shift in the link economy. Tim O'Reilly, who set us off in this direction yesterday, calls linking to your own site exclusively "a small tear in the fabric of the web, a small tear that will grow much larger if it remains unchecked."

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About the Author:
Jason Lee Miller is a WebProNews editor and writer covering business and technology.
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What can you do with it?

Our featured post today comes from dasmon777. He was curious as to how an IP address can be used to gain higher positions in Google's index. Think you can help dasmon777 out? Tell us your thoughts at WebProWorld!

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Using an IP address to get to the top
One of my clients runs many sites and I look after the marketing for a few of the commercial ones. Recently they have started running a blog. It is about 3 months old and is second page in Google already for dyslexic entrepreneur, which is the title of the site and pretty much what the site is about...

Last week my client said a friend was going to get them to the top of Google but needed their IP address. Firstly I couldn't understand why they didn't just ping the site, but then I got to wondering why they would need the IP address at all.

This is obviously a form of marketing that I am unaware of - can anybody tell me why and where you would use an IP address in a marketing campaign?
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