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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.

See me on Twitter here .

Related articles:
BBC website revamp continues

Graham Charlton

Published 4 November, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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SirBigWig

Agree with this, what is the BBC afraid of?

I think they may be trying to protect the integrity of their news content. Because if they do start to pass link juice then some people may start to try to solicit links via spurious stories that are unfounded / untrue?

over 7 years ago

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Rob Lewis

Looks like it could be more to do with them wanting to track how many links are clicked, more than a conscious decision to stop passing link juice.

over 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Rob - you might be right, but there are other ways of doing this: http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/greedy-bbc-blocks-external-links/1478/#comment-74887

over 7 years ago

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Adam Crawford, Head of SEO at Momondo Group

The BBC have been tracking some external links in this way for years from their portal pages. I'd not seen this tracking on external links on news articles before though.

over 7 years ago

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Nick Reynolds (editor, BBC Internet blog)

John O'Donovan has blogged about this on the BBC Internet blog:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/knowing_when_to_go_1.html

Nick Reynolds (editor, BBC Internet blog)

over 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Excellent that the Beeb has responded so quickly. Nice to know Auntie is listening ; )

over 7 years ago

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Katherine Burke, Content consultant at Kath Burke Ltd

This stinginess about outbound linking is an old story... I remember this issues back in the days of 1999 when I was working as channel editor on Freeserve (now defunct web portal / ISP).

Back then we were to try to keep links internal and at the very least make sure that external links appear as popups. this goes against the grain as a journalist because you want to help the reader get the information they need - and so feel empowered.

It's all a little tedious really. The BBC wouldn't be giving outbound links unless the editors deemed these sites useful to the reader. So why not let the recipient benefit from that goodwill?

How many sites offer links to the Beeb website? It feels like one-way traffic and I'm not convinced that in the long-term this policy will pay off for the BBC... at least I hope it won't.

over 7 years ago

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otimização de sites

I think that this policy will not get too much long.

Besides, if you post a nice content you´ll get linked anyway.

Great news.

I´ve already bookmarked and subscribed the feeds.

Thanks.

about 7 years ago

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Sex Shop

Very good your site ..
Structured content and relevant .. congratulations!

about 7 years ago

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Moda

The very good post 
the congratulations of this blog .. I will return several times 
to check the content!

almost 7 years ago

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moveis

This is a really good discussion! It is interesting that it has spanned over a few years and is still relevant. Thanks for the viewpoints – Happy 2010!

about 6 years ago

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Material Elétrico

The BBC have been tracking some external links in this way for years from their portal pages. I'd not seen this tracking on external links on news articles before though.

about 5 years ago

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