I strongly believe that any activity that is “good for business” but bad for customers, is, in the long run, bad for business.
One example is from ProBlogger, who say this about their attitude to linking to other websites from professional blogger sites:
“Instead of being a helpful way to share relevant content with our readers, we’ve come to view them as a way to increase our SEO. We’ve become stingy with links because we want to keep our readers on our own pages, viewing our AdSense ads and buying through our affiliate links.
It seems obvious to me that making the product (the article) worse by not providing the right links will drive long term traffic down, and not up. It will (and did) certainly put me off this sort of site, which exists to drive traffic rather than for some higher purpose.
It feels obvious that short term gaming of Google results through the “right” use of SEO results in a reader experience that is flawed, and that Google will eventually figure this out.
It seems to me that some so-called professional sites have increasingly lost the plot.
As readers what we want is quite simple:
- Quality edited content that informs, makes us think and reflects the sources and facts which are linked to;
- The ability to comment and reflect on that content in a polite and informed community;
- The ability to up or downvote on the content and the comments to help give feedback to that community.
The benchmark for this today is Hacker News, which manages to link to mostly the source content and has a nerdy community that is intolerant of anything off topic.
However while ProBlogger is beginning to get it, their proposed solution indicates that they actually do not:
We all need to adopt a mindset that includes outbound links in our articles—not necessarily every article, but I think it should be 25% at a minimum.
That’s a very prescriptive way to write, and readers will see that.
Instead they and other professional bloggers should focs on writing quality and relevant content in the first place, not writing at all if there is nothing to say, and linking appropriately using the standard internet ethic that the non “pro blogger” community just seems to understand.