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Monday, November 10, 2008

Get a leg-up by linking out

As a user, I love websites that point me helpfully in the direction of more information on the topic I'm reading about - maps, documents, background articles, related blog posts/news stories, definitions, how-tos, Wikipedia articles on economic theories etc.

News sites are often reluctant, however, to point people away from their websites, preferring to link to previous stories on their own site or, at a pinch, an external government document.

Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 has been having a blitz on the value he sees for news organisations in linking out. He's published a string of posts on the subject recently and is also tied up with Publish2.0, a tool for link journalism which lets you save links (related to your round, say), and share and publish those links. It looks interesting.

In the spirit of link journalism, then, here are a bunch from my recent reading...

The first of Scott's recent posts to catch my eye was this one:

There are two main reasons why news sites are reluctant to send readers away by linking to third-party content. First, you shouldn’t send people away or else they won’t come back to your site. Second, a page with links that sends people away has low engagement, which doesn’t serve advertisers well. But if you actually look at the data, both of these assumptions are completely wrong.

How Newspapers Abdicated the Front Page's Influence and How They Can Get it Back by Linking

The front page of the newspaper used to set the news agenda. Extra, Extra, read all about it! But that influence has steadily waned through the TV and Cable News era, and the web now threatens to obliterate it entirely. So who sets the news agenda now?
Link Journalism in Action: Vols Game Coverage Roundup Most Viewed and Commented on

Yeah, fine, so Drudge gets lots of traffic for links, but we’re not Drudge, so it won’t work for our news site, right? Wrong. Here’s a case example from’s sports site roundup of links to coverage and commentary on the Vols’ loss to Florida was the MOST VIEWED article today on

Why Every News Site Should Put a Continuously Updated News Aggregation on the Homepage

My post on Drudge beating all other news sites on engagement was an aha for many, which is interesting because the lesson of Drudge has been around for a decade. But the lessons of web publishing are all so utterly counterintuitive that I suppose they take a while to sink in.

Mainstream News Organizations Entering the Web's Link Economy Will Shift the Balance of Power and Wealth

The New York Times published an article this week about mainstream news organizations embracing link journalism and news aggregation. Gawker and others scoffed that they are late to the game, which they are, but that misses (predictably) the BIG story.

Guardian Launches Full RSS Feeds, First Media Company Not To Suppress RSS Adoption

And you can't go pass Jeff Jarvis for more insight into the link economy.

The link economy v. the content economy

Links can be exploited and monetized; get links and you can grab audience and show ads and make money. Content is becoming a cost burden, what you have to have to get the links, but in and of itself, content can’t draw value without an audience, without links.

The imperative of the link economy

1. All content must be transparent: open on the web with permanent links so it can receive links. It’s not content until it’s linked.

2. The recipient of links is the party responsible for monetizing the audience they bring. In the old content-economy model of syndication, the creator sells content to another and the one who syndicates has to come up with the ad or circulation revenue sufficient to pay for it. Now in the link economy, it’s reversed: When you get traffic, you need to figure out how to benefit from it. As Doc Searls said at the event: this is a shift from “making money with” to “making money because.”

3. Links are a key to efficiency. In other words: Do what you do best and link to the rest.

It's a link economy, stupid

In part two of his seminar to the Guardian, as part of the Future of Journalism series, Jeff Jarvis argues that links are worth more than content. (Guardian video)

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