In the same week that the BBC’s head of editorial development for multimedia journalism was quoted as saying they must do better at linking to external sites, it’s been revealed that the corporation is using a convoluted linking mechanism which means those sites will be denied any benefit in their Google ranking.
Pete Clifton is quoted as saying “It’s not about people slavishly coming back to the BBC. This is a real change in our view that we feel much more part of the web.
“We want to say [to the audience] ‘go and look at some alternative views’ and to reflect a wider media community on the website.”
But in a separate story search engine optimisation blog Blogstorm is reporting that those external links, once direct, “are now passing through two redirect scripts using a 302 redirect which is highly unlikely to pass any PageRank.”
Google’s PageRank system ranks webpages based on a number of factors, but most significant is the number of other webpages linking to it – and their PageRank.
If the website linking to your webpage has a high PageRank of its own, that makes the link even more valuable in boosting your webpage’s PageRank.
The BBC’s News website has a PageRank of 9.
Blogstorm lives up to its name by calling the act “an outrageous act of selfishness and greed”. It is more likely to be an outrageous act of stupidity and/or laziness: a clumsy way of monitoring how many links are clicked. It certainly doesn’t send out a particularly positive statement about how it perceives its relationship to the rest of the web, however.
To the BBC’s credit, the tech editor of BBC News, Darren Waters, responds in the comments promising to pass it on.