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Link logic

Send them away, send them all away… The logic of sending people away from your site, as practiced by the Drudge Report.  David Carr explains their success this way:

A big part of the reason he is such an effective aggregator for both audiences and news sites is that he actually acts like one. Behemoth aggregators like Yahoo News and The Huffington Post have become more like fun houses that are easy to get into and tough to get out of. Most of the time, the summary of an article is all people want, and surfers don’t bother to click on the link. But on The Drudge Report, there is just a delicious but bare-bones headline, there for the clicking. It’s the opposite of sticky, which means his links actually kick up significant traffic for other sites.

I’ve lived the Drudge effect. Over a decade ago, I was working at Inside.com, a media news site, and wrote about a poll that had taken place on one of the presidential candidates’ planes that seemed to suggest a liberal bias among the campaign press. Mr. Drudge liked it, for obvious reasons. Our servers melted as we stood back in wonder, staring at what the linked economy meant and how one guy in a fedora seemed to know something we didn’t. He still does.

Via Jay Rosen, who is probably quoting his partner Dave Winer in this tweet: “People come back to places that send them away.”

In 2005, Winer wrote:

Now the fundamental law of the Internet seems to be the more you send them away the more they come back. It’s why link-filled blogs do better than introverts. It may seem counter-intuitive — it’s the new intuition, the new way of thinking. The Internet kicks your ass until you get it. It’s called linking and it works.

People come back to places that send them away. Memorize that one.

Winer also refers to this older formulation of the matter.

Carr’s article displays the sometimes not-very-ambitious approach to linking of some newspapers. The NY Times always links to other articles by the same author, no matter the topic, so that’s there at the start. But in the body of the article, we see five links to sites that have sought large audiences, such as the Washington Post–in other words, examples. But his article is about linking as a strategy, a topic that has been addressed for years in the blogosphere and elsewhere. No links to that region here, however. So the Times takes a pretty mechanical view of linking in this piece, linking to people and organizations, not to concepts in collaborative development. Yet isn’t the heart of the web not mechanical links to organizations but the movement of concepts to and fro? In other words, if you link to the wrong thing, the static thing, you prove that you’re not getting it. Not getting the living web.

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