How The Boston Globe Could Improve Their Website

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Yesterday, one of my blog posts was featured in the Boston Globe. I’m really pleased by this, and I really like Scott Kirsner, who was kind enough to include me. And the Globe was kind enough to type out the name of my URL into both the newspaper and the website version.

Only, no link.

So yesterday (and today so far), my #1 link referrer was something in the India Times (which hey, thanks very much!). But the Boston Globe, which seems like it’d be a great source of traffic, is getting no credit whatsoever for sending me traffic (note: Google.com is sending me their people, I’m assuming).

This is the reverse of Steve Garfield‘s common criticism that the Globe doesn’t credit bloggers very well. Instead, I’m complaining that the Globe isn’t getting credit FROM ME for giving me the love.

This is the Internet’s version of “If a tree falls.” According to my log traffic, the Boston Globe is less impacting of my blog than Twitter.

Wouldn’t links help this? I never knew I’d be talking about link journalism on this site, and yet, I think this is much bigger than we’re letting on.

So, it’s just my thought. What’s your take?

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  • http://www.davepye.com David Pye

    This happened to me a few years ago when I was featured in a Globe article. They got the name of my blog wrong and didn’t link out to it. So even if someone had been interested and Googled the name – they still wouldn’t have found it.

    When I contacted the woman who interviewed me and asked for both a correction and a link in the online version of the article, she seemed to get offended and felt I was looking a gift horse in the mouth to an extent.

    Without a link to your site, I think you’ll all agree, participating in their articles is a waste of our time. Or at least makes said participation a lot less worthwhile.

  • http://www.davepye.com David Pye

    This happened to me a few years ago when I was featured in a Globe article. They got the name of my blog wrong and didn’t link out to it. So even if someone had been interested and Googled the name – they still wouldn’t have found it.

    When I contacted the woman who interviewed me and asked for both a correction and a link in the online version of the article, she seemed to get offended and felt I was looking a gift horse in the mouth to an extent.

    Without a link to your site, I think you’ll all agree, participating in their articles is a waste of our time. Or at least makes said participation a lot less worthwhile.

  • http://www.thehotiron.com/ Mike Maddaloni – The Hot Iron

    As a former Bostonian, I always felt Boston.com was a few cards short of a full deck from day one. I never liked the fact that they didn’t open up their archives, plus “registering” never gave you anything. And when it started, their tech coverage was horrible to say the least.

    Unfortunately this is the mindset of old media. Fortunately the little newspaper in my new home of Chicago is starting to truly embrace new media – look for Colonel Tribune on all the social media sites!

    mp/m

  • http://www.thehotiron.com/ Mike Maddaloni – The Hot Iron

    As a former Bostonian, I always felt Boston.com was a few cards short of a full deck from day one. I never liked the fact that they didn’t open up their archives, plus “registering” never gave you anything. And when it started, their tech coverage was horrible to say the least.

    Unfortunately this is the mindset of old media. Fortunately the little newspaper in my new home of Chicago is starting to truly embrace new media – look for Colonel Tribune on all the social media sites!

    mp/m

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  • http://stevegarfield.com steve Garfield

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve been complaining about the Boston Globe’s lack of links out for years… Adam Gaffin and I had a meeting with them a few years ago to give them ideas on how to improve.

    Nothing changed.

    I see the Globe now has a few blogs, but they still don’t allow comments on articles.

    And in the example you cite, the link to your blog still isn’t active.

    In an article about blogs, they’ve at least got to link out to the blogs mentioned in the article.

    They even have the URL in there…

    On a related note, the Globe searches the web for local video content and hosts it on their site using technology from Everyzing.

    I’ve been talking to the Globe and Everyzing about getting a link back on that content and hear that that feature should roll out this week.

    Example:
    http://multimedia.boston.com/pub/m/19402831/high_speed_ferry_to_nantucket.htm?col=en-all-pod_bcom-ep&q=nantucket&match=QUERY

    On a more positive note, the Globe has linked out to my video blog a number of times this year from the front page of Boston.com, and that has provided thousands of hits.

  • http://stevegarfield.com steve Garfield

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve been complaining about the Boston Globe’s lack of links out for years… Adam Gaffin and I had a meeting with them a few years ago to give them ideas on how to improve.

    Nothing changed.

    I see the Globe now has a few blogs, but they still don’t allow comments on articles.

    And in the example you cite, the link to your blog still isn’t active.

    In an article about blogs, they’ve at least got to link out to the blogs mentioned in the article.

    They even have the URL in there…

    On a related note, the Globe searches the web for local video content and hosts it on their site using technology from Everyzing.

    I’ve been talking to the Globe and Everyzing about getting a link back on that content and hear that that feature should roll out this week.

    Example:
    http://multimedia.boston.com/pub/m/19402831/high_speed_ferry_to_nantucket.htm?col=en-all-pod_bcom-ep&q=nantucket&match=QUERY

    On a more positive note, the Globe has linked out to my video blog a number of times this year from the front page of Boston.com, and that has provided thousands of hits.

  • http://www.joshklein.net Josh Klein

    I’m going to throw a possible theory out there, but I have to preface it by saying I don’t believe it.

    Some schools of thought (the darker, less community-oriented corners of the web) suggest that a link offsite is just another way for a visitor to abandon your page. In some cases, this is common wisdom (sales landing pages, for one) – but in others, like a site where information is the value added (cough, newspapers), most would consider this anathema to the site objective.

    Also, from an SEM perspective, each link slightly degrades the link love of every other link on the page. If they’re trying to sculpt internal page rank, this could be deliberate. Of course, in the long run of SEM, where people form communities and reciprocate links, we know this to be the most backwards of strategies.

    So, what I’m suggesting is that the missing link could theoretically be malicious, though I do not believe it is.

    Much more likely is that they’re clueless….

    Kind of like Patriots fans (Go Giants!). I think I’m about to provoke a backlash :)

  • http://www.joshklein.net Josh Klein

    I’m going to throw a possible theory out there, but I have to preface it by saying I don’t believe it.

    Some schools of thought (the darker, less community-oriented corners of the web) suggest that a link offsite is just another way for a visitor to abandon your page. In some cases, this is common wisdom (sales landing pages, for one) – but in others, like a site where information is the value added (cough, newspapers), most would consider this anathema to the site objective.

    Also, from an SEM perspective, each link slightly degrades the link love of every other link on the page. If they’re trying to sculpt internal page rank, this could be deliberate. Of course, in the long run of SEM, where people form communities and reciprocate links, we know this to be the most backwards of strategies.

    So, what I’m suggesting is that the missing link could theoretically be malicious, though I do not believe it is.

    Much more likely is that they’re clueless….

    Kind of like Patriots fans (Go Giants!). I think I’m about to provoke a backlash :)

  • http://tripp.fenderson.net Tripp Fenderson

    I’m not suggesting that it’s right (it’s not) — but many newspapers deliver their content to the web team as a post-pagination process from rather unwieldy newspaper publishing systems.

    These Print to Web systems are often not capable of including links because the HTML would be printed in the paper too.

    Newer publishing systems do allow it and smart people in many media companies have also been able to write parsers for older systems to link up content as it should be presented online.

    I don’t know if the Boston Globe and boston.com are under these restrictions but it may be the issue at play.

    For newspapers under these Print to Web publishing constraints, it would be ideal to see a dedicated content team pouring over articles as they arrive to add the web-appropriate data (related links, etc). Unfortunately, that requires money to pay a staff of web editors and last time I looked, the newspaper/media stocks weren’t anywhere near their 52 week highs on the stock market.

  • http://tripp.fenderson.net Tripp Fenderson

    I’m not suggesting that it’s right (it’s not) — but many newspapers deliver their content to the web team as a post-pagination process from rather unwieldy newspaper publishing systems.

    These Print to Web systems are often not capable of including links because the HTML would be printed in the paper too.

    Newer publishing systems do allow it and smart people in many media companies have also been able to write parsers for older systems to link up content as it should be presented online.

    I don’t know if the Boston Globe and boston.com are under these restrictions but it may be the issue at play.

    For newspapers under these Print to Web publishing constraints, it would be ideal to see a dedicated content team pouring over articles as they arrive to add the web-appropriate data (related links, etc). Unfortunately, that requires money to pay a staff of web editors and last time I looked, the newspaper/media stocks weren’t anywhere near their 52 week highs on the stock market.

  • http://www.chilesadvertising.com lawton chiles

    Chris, maybe the Globe does not know the power of backlinks, or they are just too lazy to do the extra work. They probably figure they are doing you a favor, so why go for the extra sweet spot of actually linking back to you?

    That is the issue, right?

  • http://www.chilesadvertising.com lawton chiles

    Chris, maybe the Globe does not know the power of backlinks, or they are just too lazy to do the extra work. They probably figure they are doing you a favor, so why go for the extra sweet spot of actually linking back to you?

    That is the issue, right?

  • http://www.thoughtgadgets.com Ben Kunz

    Slate.com recently wrote a piece on why newspapers don’t want to link to other sites. Why give away traffic? You might like it. http://www.slate.com/id/2188011/

  • http://www.thoughtgadgets.com Ben Kunz

    Slate.com recently wrote a piece on why newspapers don’t want to link to other sites. Why give away traffic? You might like it. http://www.slate.com/id/2188011/

  • http://ardentwriter.com Kai

    I went on a rant about this years ago – at the time it was motivated by the fact that certain big news sites ‘move’ content, or delete it. What’s the point of offering news to the WWW, if they aren’t willing to archive it – and what’s the point of encouraging people to link and share if they don’t want to use the power they are asking for?
    I think it’s something that we – as bloggers and writers – need to address before the newspapers fall into line.

  • http://ardentwriter.com Kai

    I went on a rant about this years ago – at the time it was motivated by the fact that certain big news sites ‘move’ content, or delete it. What’s the point of offering news to the WWW, if they aren’t willing to archive it – and what’s the point of encouraging people to link and share if they don’t want to use the power they are asking for?
    I think it’s something that we – as bloggers and writers – need to address before the newspapers fall into line.

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  • http://stevegarfield.com steve Garfield

    @Kai – You bring up a good point which also reminds me of another problem that newspapers have. When they make a mistake, the archived version of hte story s not changed, a correction is posted in another place, and hte incorrect information lives on, being searchable by Google forever….

    I’d love to hear that this is getting corrected…

  • http://stevegarfield.com steve Garfield

    @Kai – You bring up a good point which also reminds me of another problem that newspapers have. When they make a mistake, the archived version of hte story s not changed, a correction is posted in another place, and hte incorrect information lives on, being searchable by Google forever….

    I’d love to hear that this is getting corrected…

  • http://twitter.com/coloneltribune Daniel

    Lawton – That’s a possibility.

    Josh Klein – If anything, post the links and then give them a rel=”nofollow”…with a target=”_blank” for offsite links.

    Then again, many MSM sources don’t have a dedicated SEO person.

  • http://twitter.com/coloneltribune Daniel

    Lawton – That’s a possibility.

    Josh Klein – If anything, post the links and then give them a rel=”nofollow”…with a target=”_blank” for offsite links.

    Then again, many MSM sources don’t have a dedicated SEO person.

  • http://www.innoeco.com Scott Kirsner

    Tripp – you’ve hit the nail on the head. The parsing software isn’t exceptionally good at recognizing links. It’s a problem that needs to be fixed, in my opinion, not a conspiracy not to link out from Boston.com.

    I would argue that, while it’s not ideal, some users *do* know how to cut and paste URLs into the address line and may be finding Chris’ blog that way.

    Scott

  • http://www.innoeco.com Scott Kirsner

    Tripp – you’ve hit the nail on the head. The parsing software isn’t exceptionally good at recognizing links. It’s a problem that needs to be fixed, in my opinion, not a conspiracy not to link out from Boston.com.

    I would argue that, while it’s not ideal, some users *do* know how to cut and paste URLs into the address line and may be finding Chris’ blog that way.

    Scott

  • http://www.chilesadvertising.com lawton chiles

    While I don’t understand a lot of the nofollow stuff, it seems to me that this is a little bit of old-media thinking by the Globe. They aren’t the Boston news standard, at least not for long, as we move into consumer-generated media. I think the more relevant and helpful they can be, the better it is for them

  • http://www.chilesadvertising.com lawton chiles

    While I don’t understand a lot of the nofollow stuff, it seems to me that this is a little bit of old-media thinking by the Globe. They aren’t the Boston news standard, at least not for long, as we move into consumer-generated media. I think the more relevant and helpful they can be, the better it is for them

  • http://ardentwriter.com Kai

    @Steve – It would be nice if newspapers treated thier sites as ‘wikis’ and let anyone with the technical knowhow on their staff post the corrections – because then you’d have the transparency of seeing where the correction was – the control that it wasn’t ‘just anyone’ changing it (i.e a member of staff) and the internal linking ‘fun’ that we should always get when dealing with wikis.
    There again, I’ve always been more than a little hardcore about adopting tech at the drop of a hat ;)

  • http://ardentwriter.com Kai

    @Steve – It would be nice if newspapers treated thier sites as ‘wikis’ and let anyone with the technical knowhow on their staff post the corrections – because then you’d have the transparency of seeing where the correction was – the control that it wasn’t ‘just anyone’ changing it (i.e a member of staff) and the internal linking ‘fun’ that we should always get when dealing with wikis.
    There again, I’ve always been more than a little hardcore about adopting tech at the drop of a hat ;)

  • Jen

    It’s unfortunate they didn’t link out. However, in the future they may improve their website readership with some pretty cool statistical copywriting software called Glyphius. This might help create better link management control as well.

  • Jen

    It’s unfortunate they didn’t link out. However, in the future they may improve their website readership with some pretty cool statistical copywriting software called Glyphius. This might help create better link management control as well.

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  • http://www.savetubevideo.com youtube downloader

    I went on a rant about this years ago – at the time it was motivated by the fact that certain big news sites ‘move’ content, or delete it. What’s the point of offering news to the WWW,