To Link or not to Link, What is the Question?

Links are what makes the web world go round but not all links are created equal. Looks like Scoble lashed out against Engadget. It’s understandable that when you have what you feel is good content (like Scoble’s exclusive video of Intel’s 45 nm fab—whatever that is), you naturally want people to link to it because you think it’s relevant.

One thing I do like about Scoble is how he never ceases being the underdog whether he’s blogging at a tech giant like MicroSoft or at a startup, he’s essentially the same underdog. I mean, look at his site. It’s basically a glorified standard WordPress template and no ads in sight. The last thing that comes to mind is A-list blogger but that’s who he is.

Even though he apologized, taking on Engadget and Gizmodo is a bold move. Although his grounds may be weak on this particular case, I think his sentiment, that the big blogs are getting lazy about linking back, is spot on. Just look at the major blogs and it’s easy to see that they tend to link to other blogs of similar standing rather than take a risk on an unknown.

It really comes back to the fact that major blogs are looking more and more like old media whether they use WordPress as a backend or not.

Linking is really a big topic. Links are the gold standard, the very currency that drives the web every since Google came up with their algorithm.

Before Google, the web was much smaller and links were traded more freely and without much regard. However, ever since Google crystalized the link as currency, people have become much more cheap and stingy with their links. The emergence of blogs made links even more prevalent with automatic-linking (trackbacks) and comments solidifying the strength of blogs in the web economy.

All hell broke loose when people realized just how valuable links are. Search Engine Optimization, link farms, spamming and all the other shady tactics used by unscrupulous individuals complicated the situation even worse.

This is one of the reasons I’m not too crazy about “no follow” attribute initiated by Google. It’s a dirty hack of a fix that does nothing to address weaknesses inherent in Google’s dominant algorithm. It’s like uncle Joe nailing plywood onto a hole in the wall. Sure, it addresses the issue but boy is it ugly to look at!

It’s no wonder the big media establishments want to keep out the riff raff and simply stay away from them all together. Ironic, that though they’ll never link out they’re quick to incorporate “digg this” and all other social media buttons to their sites.

Strangely enough or not it’s getting harder and harder for the little guys to get noticed. Of course, it happens and sometimes by accident but less and less so. Ironically, many sites that get quickly noticed are using very sly marketing as well.

Just looking at the Digg front page you’ll notice that regular news articles from traditional media and A-list blogs are playing a more prominent role than ever. The world famous aversion Digg users have for anything that even faintly seems like spam is turning Digg into a playground for traditional media. It’s ironic but that’s what happens when a site like Digg gets as big as it is. The more eyes focused on the Digg submission queue, the easier it is for traditional media to take over.

At the end of the day it is a bit sad but the fact is people with the most Google juice control this economy. Content providers coming into the game late need to either prepare for the long haul (hang on to your day job) or be prepared to spend some advertising dollars. It’s still nice to see people like Scoble sticking to the trenches with the rest of the underdogs by voicing a common but unspoken sentiment among others.

OK, I think I made about 50 enemies yesterday. Telling people they don’t link, I learned, is one way to get everyone’s panties in a bunch.

Pissing off the blogosphere… « Scobleizer – Tech Geek Blogger via CrunchNotes » Wow, Scoble Just Threw Himself Under a Bus