What’s the Hullaballoo about Homepage Linking Preference?

With the whole discussion about linking policies, one of the common points that crop up is the preference of homepage linking. What is behind this particular policy? As always, Don’t Link is your resource for relevant discourse about linking policies and activism.

The past few months we have discussed the concepts of odd and unfair linking policies that hamper the freedom of sharing information from certain websites. It seems that a majority of the websites that have odd linking policies often prefer that users link to the homepage rather than other parts or sections of the website.

What is the homepage?

From a website standpoint, the homepage is the face of a website. A website’s health is predominantly determined by the traffic or activity that it gets. Google tends to base their rankings on the activity that a site’s homepage gets.

Why prefer the homepage as a link?

One of the reasons why a lot of websites have linking policies that only allow third-party websites to link to their homepage is because of site traffic. When people click the link from 3rd party sites that lead into other parts of a particular site, the extra points that drive up traffic and site ranking are given to the 3rd party and not the source website.

With websites coming up with revenue from ads and whatnot, it is critical that they have a lot of traffic. The higher their traffic ranking, the better the chances of more revenue coming in for the site owner! Yes, it all boils down to money in the end.

Content usage control

If it was not for the revenue, they are after controlling the way their information is presented or used. One of the reasons why some sites prefer that only their homepage is linked is because of quality control. There are some websites out there that write damaging reports or even counter what is presented.

Mind you, this discourse is not about boosting the importance of link policy, this is simply a peek at why some websites feel that they should have linking policies. Protecting the image of your brand is good. However, it is when certain linking policies go overboard like asking for personal information that these policies need to be reviewed.

Sites like the one is the American Stock Exchange have been known to prohibit unauthorized hypertext links to their site. There are others like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that had previously demanded a written license agreement. It is when websites penalize or even threaten of “further legal action” when their linking policies are violated is outright ridiculous.

So while it is understandable why some websites would prefer that 3rd party websites link toward their homepage, it does not follow that they should also try to impose unreasonable rules on those who merely want to refer back to them as a source. In order for information to be fluidly processed by readers, the details should be streamlined. If you are talking about a particular subject, it makes no sense to link to a site that does not support or emphasize the subject that you are tackling. It makes the message disjointed. In the end, not only do those websites with absurd linking policies hurt other sites, they invariably hurt themselves as well.

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