Is linking to yourself the right thing to do?

Filed as Features on August 19, 2008 5:52 am

An interesting piece by Tim O’Reilly over at O’Reilly Radar asks if linking to yourself is the future of the web:

At the time, I noted the way that more and more information that was once delivered by independent web sites was now being delivered directly by search engines, and that rather than linking out to others, there were strong signs of a trend towards keeping the link flow to themselves.

This thought re-surfaced when Techcrunch launched Crunchbase. Now, rather than linking directly to companies covered in its stories, Techcrunch links to one of its own properties to provide additional information about them. I noticed the same behavior the other day on the New York Times, when I followed a link, and was taken to a search result for articles on the subject at the Times (with lots of ads, even if there were few results).

I remember it was just a few months ago that I noticed that the New York Times was doing this to their own content – embedding links in stories that took you to their own search results – rather than to the website for the specific individual, corporation, or organization that they were referencing in the article.

Even some blogs do this – to Tim’s point – with TechCrunch being one of the first to do this on a widescale – but we have seen this within our own network with 901am having done this under its previous owner, and my own Telegraphik having taken this approach under its previous owner as well.

While I know I occasionally reference previous posts here at The Blog Herald because they add context and background to a story, we’re not currently using a database system to track companies such as TechCrunch or The Inquisitr so we don’t have content along those lines to link to.

What do you think? Should blogs link to themselves in such a way?

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  1. By Chris Monsos posted on August 19, 2008 at 6:17 am
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    I don’ treally have any moral obligations to the practice, I just find it a crummy user experience…

    To this day when I think about TechCrunch the first thing that pops into my head is the memory of having to hover over links to figure out which one actually pointed to the company they were covering.

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  2. By PC posted on August 19, 2008 at 7:54 am
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    Will it effect anything actually?

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  3. By JonKnight posted on August 19, 2008 at 11:15 am
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    I do LOTS of links in my posts, whenever I can. Back when I got started with Wordout, it was mostly just a linkfest for my customers, trying to point them to interesting places around the net. I’d post 10 or so links with descriptions and they would either go or not go.

    Nowadays, of course, I think I’m some kinda writer or something, so I actually write paragraphs and essays. But I still make massive use of links whenever possible.

    I will link to source in a flat second. I will link to related material if it’s appropriate. I will link to myself only if I have to, or if it advances the topic better than a source or related link would. And I always hate linking to myself, it makes me feel like I look so… conceited.

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  4. By Michael posted on August 19, 2008 at 5:57 pm
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    Linking to yourself is fine as long as it is in the right context. I have always gotten frustrated by Engadget because they regularly link to search results on their own blog in a context that would make one think that they are linking to a companies site.

    I link to myself regularly but only when I’m referencing another post I’ve written or the occasional time that I link to a category page (but I always make it very clear that that is what I’m doing). Link to yourself when you can but DO NOT force it.

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  5. By Dexter | Techathand. posted on August 19, 2008 at 11:56 pm
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    I believe there is no problem on linking to yourself. Since not all your visitor are old timer.. Time sill come that because of SEO there will be lots of visitors coming. And finding your archives post thru that link will be an advantage to let them know how good as a blogger you are.

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  6. By Robert Barr posted on August 20, 2008 at 8:15 am
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    That is a fantastic question, and one that I never really gave any thought to. I link to my posts. I think of it as a hybrid way of providing a “similar Posts” sidebar right in the post.

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  7. By Maria Reyes-McDavis posted on August 25, 2008 at 12:53 pm
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    I agree with Robert Barr and the others. In and of itself, linking to yourself isn’t inherently bad. Although the TechCrunch strategy is a little annoying from a user’s standpoint. However, I do link to myself if the link leads to content that is contextually relevant :-) Great post :-)

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