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the commodification of linking

thank you google

2:58 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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well, if it wasn't them i suppose it would be someone else. but anyway..

I've been spending a bit of time recently surfing around, updating my list of vortals and directories with link building in mind.

I've been quite amazed how many are now protecting their links to an extent that i don't think i saw before (i don't think, anyway..)

e.g. one uk directory site with good pr, actually its a set of directories all linked together. they want 25 for a link, or will give it free for a reciprocal link. Upon further investigation, I find that all the outgoing links in the directories have been javascripted so that they won't be counted by any spider. This has been disguised by a jscript "status" so that its not obvious that the link is in fact a javascript and thus, in link pop terms, useless.

It seems to me that this is just one example of an increase in link commodification - i.e. pr, or link flows to and from your site are like capital - you want it all flowing to you, but you don't necessarily want to let it leak out.

Google PR IS basically, their one crucial asset. Although it isn't the only component, without it, there's no basis for google. The link strategy/pr0 penalty thing they have been undertaking recently, in order to safeguard the usefulness of their core asset, has started to have the effect of making webmasters very precious over link flows - i think more and more, webmasters treat links like commodities.

Obviously this is a far cry from the basic structure and rationalle of the web.

This is just an impression i have, but has anyone else seen this - not just difficulty in getting personal reciprocal links, but in finding directories and other sites that will include a plain, simple, link? I know a certain percentage of this kind of stuff has always been around, but how more difficult do people feel its got since the beginning of the year?

3:29 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I've not only seen examples, but I've also been involved in several strategy discussions where such ideas are kicked around.

I don't like the trend at all. If it spreads too far it could shift the usefulness of the Google algo.

After all, a base assumption in Page Rank is that web documents will be linked "naturally". If too many meangingful links become invisible to Google, the relevance of the Google SERPs may suffer.

In such a case Google could probably look for a way to harvest the URLs that occur in JavaScript - that would make most links "countable" again and help restore PR to its more "natural" values.

4:07 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure, yet, that 'outward-pointing' links are a bad thing.

Let me explain:

I saw a quote from a Google employee that said something like, "We want people to get OFF of Google as fast as possible."

Now based entirely on that comment, I have begun to believe that the MORE links you have to relevant content (whether on your site or not-it MAY not matter), the sooner a 'surfer' will get off of Google. You've become an 'authority' on the subject.

Of course this is just a theory, but I believe Brett touched upon this in his 'theme essay' awhile ago.

In short, I'm beginning to believe outgoing links may actually help....not hurt.

Do I have a reason for believing this? Yes, but not anything I can go into detail on....it's just a theory.

Remember that GoogleGuy has expressed in the past that they have studied 'game theory', and this would be a simple violation of that game theory. Game theory would suggest: "I want all traffic, and I want to keep it on my site." as opposed to, "Thank you Google for referring my AUTHORITATIVE website. I'll handle it from here, and direct each surfer to what they want."

The key item above, is that the surfer goes to your website, and NEVER goes back to Google under the same search term....because YOU'VE become the 'authority'.

I am open for dispute on this, but I'm becoming convinced this may be an answer to a lot of questions.

4:46 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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mr_dredd2, can I get a free link on your home page?
7:37 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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lol - yes u can, but it would be javascript link!

no, i agree that there is a component in google's algorythm that encourages authority hubs.

However, links to you, with no links back are not only probably better PR wise, but also, now, LESS RISKY - in fact, no links out = no risk.

8:04 pm on May 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

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My earlier question is a good-natured jest and not really intended for any one person. Rather, it is based on seeing so many webmasters complain about a lack of selfless linking, yet seeing few of them practicing the link love they are preaching. IMHO, the best way to understand link dynamics is to put in time on both sides of the give 'n' take.

speaking of dynamics...

Google is the one who must pay attention to how their algo shapes the web. They must do this not only for the unselfish sake of the web, but for the selfish sake of Google. It is like a 'back to the future' scenario where they must not re-write history in a way that prevents their own existance. The only way to ensure a future for link analysis is to encourage good linking.

I suspect there is already some incentive for external linking. Or maybe it is just my contrarian nature. When everyone is selling, buy. When everyone is buying, sell. When everyone is stingy, link.


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