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.

  • Furthermore, Google indexes sites partly on the quality of outbound links. Inbound links is a 90’s trend coming back. The fact of the matter is that outbound links don’t drive traffic away, they make the site more trustworthy, reliable and sticky. You need to find the right balance so that you can highlight previously written material that your readers might not be aware of.

    Keep up with the Twitter links – I no longer use my RSS reader 🙂

  • Furthermore, Google indexes sites partly on the quality of outbound links. Inbound links is a 90’s trend coming back. The fact of the matter is that outbound links don’t drive traffic away, they make the site more trustworthy, reliable and sticky. You need to find the right balance so that you can highlight previously written material that your readers might not be aware of.

    Keep up with the Twitter links – I no longer use my RSS reader 🙂

  • Good point, well made.

    The bigger the media owner, the less likely to link externally?

    Discuss.

  • Good point, well made.

    The bigger the media owner, the less likely to link externally?

    Discuss.

  • The BBC is an offender.

  • The BBC is an offender.

  • There is a cost to don’t do evil !

    For me crunchbase is a good idea since it sum up information not always available on corporate website like amount raised…

    But i do agree with you Nic, outbound like are good but cost you because it reduces your # of VP. So since the advertising industry is still lagging and we are in a phase of rentability we should see more of this in the coming years.

    Nevertheless, i do feel that it destroys value for me as a user (again maybe not with crunchbase but they should put both links).

    Semantic will probably do more arm like this. People with larger properties will be rebuilding what’s available elsewhere.

    Web is jungle !

  • There is a cost to don’t do evil !

    For me crunchbase is a good idea since it sum up information not always available on corporate website like amount raised…

    But i do agree with you Nic, outbound like are good but cost you because it reduces your # of VP. So since the advertising industry is still lagging and we are in a phase of rentability we should see more of this in the coming years.

    Nevertheless, i do feel that it destroys value for me as a user (again maybe not with crunchbase but they should put both links).

    Semantic will probably do more arm like this. People with larger properties will be rebuilding what’s available elsewhere.

    Web is jungle !

  • A theme you should return to.
    Of course, internal linking is so annoying that maybe some of these blogging combines will be taken down a peg.

  • A theme you should return to.
    Of course, internal linking is so annoying that maybe some of these blogging combines will be taken down a peg.

  • Paul: “The BBC is an offender.”

    Interestingly they have just started trialling links in articles. The user can turn them on and off.

  • Paul: “The BBC is an offender.”

    Interestingly they have just started trialling links in articles. The user can turn them on and off.