Blogcatalog Members today are collectively blogging about abuse.
I thought of blogging about all kinds of abuse that affect real people day in, day out, but decided that ultimately that doesn’t fit in with my audience, or really add any authority to the words I would be writing.
As it happens, today part of a 2 hour interview with me was published in the Guardian (Digg Story you know you want to). I honestly didn’t expect any more words in print from the article, because it was so wide ranging, and such an article gains authority by citing multiple sources.
Some things were however a little disappointing, and I thought I would cover that initially, and then add to the end some points.
The Press Doesn’t Handle Linking Well
This comes down to 3 different situations which I will cover briefly
1. Linking To Sources Where Possible
This is for a situation where someone actively played a role and was mentioned in the story. As an example they gave a short or long interview.
In the Guardian article for some reason I didn’t get a link. I am not a blackhat or bad neighbourhood, and I think I made a large contribution to the story. The few paragraphs on paper is the result of a 2 hour telephone conversation.
I know there isn’t really a legal obligation to link to me, but the contact came about because of my online presence and blogging in various ways, and how can I prove that the Andy Beard in the article was in fact me without the link? (yes I might one day like to be in Wikipedia)
2. Linking To Junk Without Nofollow
The tone of the article suggests that Danny Bradbury didn’t really approve of some of the worst MFA sites, yet they received links as a pointer so readers could see for themselves. Unfortunately, the links did not use rel=”nofollow” (known in SEO circles as a “link condom) which was introduced 2 1/2 years ago to fight comment spam, but since then is recommended by Google to use on links to untrusted sources, spam sites etc.
Those sites linked to could most likely rank better in search results now, compared to other content – it is not for me to judge whether in the eyes of the author that was his intent, but that is the effect.
3. Reusing Other People’s Content Without Link Attribution
The press sometimes also regurgitate other people’s quality content without any useful attribution, though they might rewrite the content by hand. I am not a lawyer, but in my opinion that is still stealing traffic and search results by repurposing and replacing an original work with their own.
In this particular case with the Museum of Hoaxes the museum missed out on a massive front page story on Digg, which can lead to lots of links. Social media sites want to vote on the original article, and not something which is a cut down rewritten version, but without a link, who is to know.
Invisible Links in Plain Sight
This is really a separate section of the article, but is still regarding linking. I don’t regard this as in any way abusive, it is strategic.
Whilst Matt Cutts worries about hidden links the same as or very similar to the background colour, such that they can’t actually be seen by a human, there is another kind of hidden link, or invisible link.
Here is an example taken from Dana’s excellent rules of social media, which she learnt in kindergarten.
Could you see the links? Didn’t think so… well here they are a little more visible.
The links are now underlined, but they are not hidden, so they might receive some clicks. It should be noted that many people are reading your content, especially on large blogs, in an RSS reader.
That does however depend on the source of the traffic – if traffic is from a social media site such as Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Propeller, or Sphinn, then the visitors will see the content on the page.
You need to determine why you have the links on the page, and how you want your readers to interact with the links.
Here are some more “click happy” alternatives
The classic blue encourages readers to click, which is why it is also so highly recommended for blending Adsense to increase CTR.
There Is No Quick Fix
The press and bloggers really need to be aware of how they link and attribute. If you are giving a link to someone, think about how that link can best benefit them.
Take another look at the article on the Guardian (and possibly give it a Digg), I have emailed them hoping they will adjust the article so that is is more link friendly and unfriendly where a link might have to have a “link condom“.
Linking Awareness is what is required to avoid linking mistakes