It’s a fact of modern SEO that link popularity is now THE dominant factor in who ranks the highest on Google. With 16.5 million monthly visitors you’d imagine having links from the BBC would be an ideal way of racking up link brownie points. Other major search engines such as Yahoo and MSN also give a strong emphasis to back links for their ranking criteria so there too a nice outbound link from the BBC should (you’d have thought) really boost your Page Ranking. After all, if your site is well optimised AND has a stronger number of good inbound links from quality, relevant websites like the BBC you will out rank the competition won’t you?
Well…it’s not quite as straightforward as you might have thought. When the BBC Trust report earlier in the year called for ‘more links to non-BBC websites and more interactivity,’ you might have been mistaken for taking this as unqualified good news. Unfortunately the BBC in applying more outbound links, rather than making them direct links are now passing them through a 'Go tracking system' of redirect scripts that undermine Google Pageranking and the ability to generate “link juice”.
Whilst BlogStorm take the approach that rendering once important and trusted links impotent by directing them through a 302 script is ‘an outrageous act of selfishness and greed,’ some take a slightly more philosophical view arguing that the policy is applied simply as a monitoring device.
It is also argued that the BBC’s role as a public service organisation means that by passing commercially advantageous PageRank through links to commercial organisations it would in fact be contradicting its remit. ‘Effectively state-funded meddling with the natural linking ecosystem of the web,’ suggests Martin Belam of Currybet.
Whatever their motivation it’s worth noting that the BBC are far from alone in adopting a 'Go tracking system' with Wikipedia, Youtube, Myspace, Newsvine and numerous other news organisations all employing similar no-follow type technology.