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Biting the hand that links

March 18th, 2002 · No Comments · Uncategorized

On some Mac news site that shall remain nameless, primarily because I can’t remember it, I noticed they linked to external sites with a little script, like this:

http://www.somewhere.com/externallink.php?http://www.elsewhere.com/

TopKnot does this too, if you want to see a concrete example.

I know why sites do it. It’s for statistics. You can find out where your visitors come from, but it’s hard to know what links they click. So add a little script, and there you go.

Except it totally wonks with Google. And wonking with Google is a Bad Thing.

Google pays a lot of attention to links. Links are like money to Google. A site that gets a lot of inbound links is considered more valuable. Each link is a vote of confidence. But sites that use scripts to track links essentially opt-out of this process. Instead of yielding information to Google, which makes everyone’s life better, the information is kept private, where it benefits only the people operating the site.

It also happens to sites that use weird Javascript links, or Flash links. Google doesn’t see them, so they don’t count. For every link a person makes that is ignored by Google, God kills a Domo-kun. Wait, sorry, wrong meme.

I’m personally grateful for any links to this pile of bits, wonked or not, but I prefer nice, normal, unsexy, unscripted Google-readable links. Not because I really care about my Google ranking (because I do, like an obsessed idiot, but I’ll deny it until the very end) but on the principle of making sure Google works. So if you make web pages, and you’re getting fancy with links, remember that Google is our friend, and we all need to do our part to make sure it stays that way. Think of the Domo-kuns.

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