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Is the BBC doing enough with its outbound links?

The BBC's Internet Blog has tackled the ripples of criticism surrounding the BBC's external links policy in a post today. Initially, the problem was that the BBC BBC
 in full British Broadcasting Corp.

Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927.
 just wasn't linking out enough which, in its position as the biggest UK website and as a publicly funded entity, means it has an obligation to the the nation's greatest purveyor (World-Wide Web) Purveyor - A World-Wide Web server for Windows NT and Windows 95 (when available).

E-mail: <>.
 of links.

Blogstorm started this on Saturday, saying that in an act of "selfishness and greed" the BBC has replaced direct, more search engine-friendly outbound links A link from your site to another site. Contrast with inbound link.  with redirect links.

"Links from the BBC have, historically, been some of the most important links that a website can get and there can be no doubt that Google rates the BBC as BBC AS Bø Byggecompagni As  one of the most trusted sites on the web," wrote Patrick Altoft.

"The links used to be direct links but they are now passing through two redirect scripts using a 302 redirect which is highly unlikely to pass any PageRank."

Photograph: creativecommoners/Flickr/Some rights reserved

So why have they done it? John O'Donovan, chief architect for journalism at future media and technology says there are no sinister reasons for tracking links, which have been set up that way to satisfy the BBC Trust The BBC Trust is a body that oversees the BBC, being independent of BBC management and external bodies. Along with an Executive Board, the Trust took over the role of the old Board of Governors on 1 January 2007.  request (as originally identified in the Graf review) to monitor the popularity of outbound links.

The system has been around for years, he says, but was only recently introduced to news pages. "You will find the /go/ tracking system in use across the BBC website and the way it redirects links is nothing new

"On the BBC site you don't get this delay, but you can see what it is doing - it is basically logging that you have clicked a link from he BBC to an external site by going to the intermediary page and then sends you on to this page."

The BBC is working on ways to improve this system: "Essentially we use JavaScript to retain search engine optimisation and Google juice The clever words on a Web page that cause it to rank high in a Google search. See Google.  for external sites, while we will still be able to track external links. Search Engines, casual observers and those without JavaScript will still see the original URL URL
 in full Uniform Resource Locator

Address of a resource on the Internet. The resource can be any type of file stored on a server, such as a Web page, a text file, a graphics file, or an application program.

Martin Belam on CurryBet has far more on the BBC's "clumsy linking" history, and how the priority of the Trust was to get the volume of links up rather than SEO (Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Optimizer) See search engine optimization. . And he argues that there might be a case for not encouraging traffic to commercial sites.

"If BBC News carries a story about Internet security ''This article or section is being rewritten at

Internet security is the process of protecting data and privacy of devices connected to internet from information robbery, hacking, malware infection and unwanted software.
 or yet more Government data loss, and links to a computer security advisory firm, then that link may provide them some traffic, but the effect of placing it there is confined to that page.

"If, however, the BBC was passing on their valuable PageRank with that link, then they would be giving one company a 'leg up' on Google at the expense of their competitors - effectively state-funded meddling med·dle  
intr.v. med·dled, med·dling, med·dles
1. To intrude into other people's affairs or business; interfere. See Synonyms at interfere.

2. To handle something idly or ignorantly; tamper.
 with the natural linking ecosystem of the web."
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Date:Nov 5, 2008
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