To Link Or Not To Link

I read an interesting article recently about Jean-Pierre Bazinet and his Movie-List web site.

Movie-List is a web site with links to almost 1000 movie trailers. Sounds like a good resource for the movie fan and something the movie studios should feel positive about as well.

However, in July, Bazinet removed all links from trailers belonging to Universal Pictures as a result of letters and emails from lawyers acting on their behalf.

I’m not exactly sure why Universal reacted so negatively to Bazinet’s links. However, I read that it might have something to do with that fact that he was using ‘deep’ links into the Universal web site.

What this means is that a link does not go to the home page of the web site but rather goes to a specific page far within the web site. Some web sites complain that this sort of linking can bypass sponsor/advertisements, thus taking away from revenue streams.

I have always believed that the more links you can get on the Internet, the better.

If you look at Yahoo or Amazon, they have millions of links to their web sites. In fact, I believe that in years to come the amount of links a web site has will be a key indicator of the value of that web site and will be accounted for on its balance sheet.

Why is linking so important?

A web site without any links to it is at Point 0 in Internet time and space. A link is like a road, and a web site without any roads leading to it is truly isolated.

We all talk about the necessity of getting registered/linked in the major search engines. That’s important, but it is only the first step in the linking process.

Generally speaking, no link is too small to get because a link is the best possible advertisement in that it is positive word of mouth.

Think about it for a moment. Someone who runs another web site has decided that they will encourage people who visit their web site to also visit yours. It’s difficult to buy that sort of promotion.

Nua Internet Surveys and all other Nua publications actively encourage people to republish them on their own web sites once they link back to the Nua web site.

The strategy has unquestionably worked. Nua is linked from thousands of web sites and people often remark on that. Even though many might not follow a particular link to us, the fact that they keep seeing our name and a link to our web site impresses them.

Does this mean that all linking is good?

As with everything, there are always some exceptions. When someone links to you but keeps the user in their web site by the use of frames, the power of the link is significantly reduced.

When someone creates a whole set of links to your web site, linking to elements of your content rather than your brand, that can almost be an act of passing off your information as their own.

A case that might have reflected the above approach was settled between Microsoft and Ticketmaster earlier this year when Microsoft agreed in an out-of-court settlement not to link deep within the Ticketmaster web site.

But the general law is vague in such a new area as linking and, even in the United States, there are no comprehensive court opinions as of yet.

Oh, the legal ins and outs of linking will in time be sorted. I, for one, fundamentally encourage and support the process of linking. It’s a foundation stone upon which the Internet is built.

But, as with much else in life, not every link is a good one.

Related reading