The BBC just can't get its external links policy right, it seems, and is now denying external websites valuable link juice by the way it links out.
Patrick at Blogstorm has noticed that the site's external links, normally displayed to the right of its articles, are being passed through redirect scripts.
These external links would be extremely valuable from a trusted site such as the BBC, but it isn't passing on any of that value to the sites it is linking to.
For example, in the link to Oxfam on the right of this news article, instead of leading users to http://www.oxfam.org.uk/, readers are directed to http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/relintlink/UKFS+News+v3/ext/-/http://www.oxfam.org.uk.
As Patrick points out, this redirect is unlikely to pass on any PageRank to the Oxfam website.
This is especially ironic given the recent comments by the corporation's Pete Clifton that the BBC needs to link out and act as more of a guide to the web.
As well as passing on PageRank, the BBC should be giving more prominence to its links - most of them are hidden on the right of the page and often hidden below the fold where they can easily be missed.
It should be linking from within the text of articles, which is much more relevant and useful for readers. It did experiment with in-text links in August, but overcomplicated the process and seems to have stopped doing this, at least for the moment.
According to a recent study of outbound links from the mainstream media, the BBC is not alone in being stingy with its link juice. While commercial publishers can perhaps be forgiven for being cautious about linking to rivals the BBC, as a publically funded organisation, has no such justification.
What's more, the same study also showed that outbound links can benefit publishers by increasing the number of internal links.
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