Too much linking to yourself is a bad thing

Tim O’Reilly has a post this morning about the growing trend for sites to link to themselves so they don’t lose traffic. I was called out for doing this the other day by Nils Geylen, which made me think about the issue for the first time, and it isn’t a good development.

O’Reilly cites numerous examples, and Techcrunch is one of the guilty parties:

[Since] Techcrunch launched Crunchbase … rather than linking directly to companies covered in its stories, Techcrunch links to one of its own properties to provide additional information about them.

And he also sums up the dilemma nicely:

I understand the value of linking to other articles on your own site — everyone does it — but to do so exclusively is a small tear in the fabric of the web, a  small tear that will grow much larger if it remains unchecked.

and

The web is a great example of a system that works because most sites create more  value than they capture. Maybe the tragedy of the commons in its future can be averted.

I agree entirely. The web will be a much, much poorer place if sites only link to themselves. So this issue needs to be out in the open, and if sites link to themselves too much like Nils we should call it out. Leave a comment and potentially take your traffic elsewhere.

The web is still a new medium and standards of good behaviour are still being defined. We all have a part to play in that – as O’Reilly says, it’s up to each of us.