Dec 15, 2009 1
Two Thoughts on the Link Economy
This Sunday past, Richard MacManus published an article on ReadWriteWeb.com entitled, “Content Farms: Why Media, Blogs & Google Should Be Worried.”
MacManus believes that Google et al. should be worried because ranking algorithms use in-bound links as an indicator of authority but, due to the rise of “content farms” such as Demand Media and Answers.com, which can effectively generate links to their own content at scale, the number of in-bound links may indicate little more than the ability for an organization to generate in-bound links.
A conversation that I had with two SEO jedi back in October at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer caused a similar thought to haunt the darkened corridors of my tortured mind. That is, it became clear to this novice that building links is, in part, merely a question of resources and effort. If, like the one jedi claimed, you have “guys in India” who can help by Digg-ing content and taking care of directory submissions, you’re gonna rank. If not, good luck.
Thought #1: If link-building is primarily a question of effort, then search results in Google primarily reflect this effort, rather than some quasi-meritocratic invisible hand.
In other words, the problem with this aspect of the link economy is that, in effect, people can print their own money. Now I ask you, how many “real world” economies could survive that kind of devaluation of its currency?
Still curious about the link economy, I hit the Googles and discovered a raging conversation about the value of links being waged from the content producer side. This dispute started with an article by Arnon Mishkin on “The Fallacy of the Link Economy” in which he argued, in effect, that links ARE content so that link aggregators should be paying the sources for these links.