Greedy BBC blocks external links

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  • November 1, 2008

In an outrageous act of selfishness and greed the BBC has decided to stop giving real links to the websites featured in the “Related Internet Links” section on the right hand side of each news story.

Links from the BBC have, historically, been some of the most important links that a website can get and there can be no doubt that Google rates the BBC as one of the most trusted sites on the web.

The links used to be direct links but they are now passing through two redirect scripts using a 302 redirect which is highly unlikely to pass any PageRank.

The link takes the format below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/relintlink/IFS+News+v3/ext/-/http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/

If your referrer is bbc.co.uk then you are taken directly to the site but if not then you are taken to this page:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/redirect.shtml?http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/

The second page has a clean link but probably won’t pass any weight because anybody can create it like I did above. It has a meta redirect to the destination site.

Googlebot doesn’t send referrer information so it won’t be sent directly to the target site on the first redirect, it ends up at the interstitial page (which is already getting indexed in Google) and has to follow another link to get to the destination.

I can’t understand why the BBC would want to do this. They could track clicks on the links easily without using a redirect and all the links are editorially granted so there is no risk of them linking to a spam site by accident. Perhaps

The only piece of good news in this is that the changes have yet to be applied to existing news stories so if you already have a link from the BBC it still counts – for now.

How is Google supposed to run a link based algorithm if the most trusted sites stop linking to anybody?

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

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