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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Linking out 'works' for news sites

Speaking of links, this is a nice little piece from a guy called David Eaves who has an SEO company in the UK.

I won't pretend to be able to recreate the maths, but in essence he collected a few vital statistics for large mainstream websites - including incoming and outgoing links - threw them into an Excel spreadsheet and came up with a chart...

... and this:

"The resulting figure of 0.842733801 shows that in general there is a strong relationship between news websites linking out and getting links in return."
I like the way he notes in his post that it's not fair to lump all mainstream news sites in together, and that:
"As a blogger it’s sometimes hard to appreciate the fact that mainstream media websites are, with the exception of the BBC, business entities with shareholders and an obligation to maximise profits. It’s understandable that they are reluctant to send valuable page views elsewhere."

He also sought comment from the websites he looked at and the two quoted are worth a read. This is part of what's editor James Montgomery had to say:
"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.)

"Obviously, we are more inclined to believe some sources (Reuters) than others (chat rooms). Many blogs might be regarded as inherently unreliable because they don’t reveal their sources or uphold traditional journalistic/MSM standards of reporting (eg, double sourcing, on the record or whatever). But there is nothing intrinsically untrustworthy about blogs as a genre.

"So when it comes to linking out on, a link does not constitute sourcing for us. But as a general rule, if we do acknowledge some third party content, then best practice would be to carry a link to it.

"For example, if we write: “Yesterday’s statement by the prime minister appeared to represent a climbdown from an interview to the BBC last week in which he pledged….”, then we would link “interview” to the BBC article. That’s a service to the reader, who may want to follow the link to learn more; and a confirmation that we have accurately reported the earlier quote.

"Do we also live up to this best practice? No, because of some technology issues to do with persistent hyperlinks in text in our CMS, and newsroom training. But we are improving."