Here we go again… The Associated Press (AP) is suing news aggregation site Moreover and parent company VeriSign, claiming copyright infringement for, among other things, linking to the AP news without permission (here’s the complaint in PDF format). In an awesome bit of newsbot irony, you can read all the gory details via Reuters.
This particular lawsuit is every bit as stupid as all the others we link builders have faced over the years. I was Moreover’s contract link builder for a long time during the late nineties and I worked my tail off to help them became what they are today, so I read this with a vested interest.
There are a couple issues that are worth worrying about. The AP says Moreover is doing more than just headline linking. The suit alleges Moroever is scraping entire columns. While the headline link itself has avoided the death sentence time and time again, I have to wonder how Google has avoided a similar lawsuit. Google News includes a snippet of the column content along with the headline link to the entire column, which isn’t all that different from what the AP is suing Moreover over. [Editor's Note: Google didn't escape one and was threatened with another. Google News Now Hosting Wire Stories & Promises Better Variety In Results explains how licensing agreements made both go away].
In an age of RSS and AJAX, many headline links do not get clicked anymore, as by mousing over them pops up a text box that often gives enough detail so that the reader does not have to visit the site to read the full column. And as much as it pains me to say this, I can see that point. A 10 word headline is one thing, but if you grab the first 250 words of my column and Ajax it over to the reader so he/she doesn’t have to click and end up at my site, I think I might be a bit annoyed as well.
Pity the link directory…NOT. Some link builders are up in arms over the so-called devaluation of web directories. Am I the only one who is happy to see these useless nobody-visits-them-except-the-submitters start to fade away? Why is it so hard for the folks who run these things to accept that they have been the beneficiary of Google-created link anxiety for years, and now the end is near. Good. For 15 years I have been building links for web content for hundreds of sites, and I have never once submitted a client’s site to the no-names. And even though I have been a DMOZ editor for almost ten years, I have to go on record as saying the time has indeed come to either morph into something that creates value, or move on.
Selling paid links… If you haven’t yet read it, see Danny’s article here. Now, can we all try to agree on one core concept: It’s Google’s engine, they can do whatever the hell they want with it. Please stop the Google-is-evil talk. They are the best thing that ever happened to those who create really good content, and the worst nightmare to content and link spammers. I’ve yet to find anyone who works white-hat who thinks Google is evil. For those of us who pursue a very specific type of link building for a very specific type of content, Google rewards us handsomely with higher rankings for our clients. For those that dabble in the dark linking arts, it’s your own fault. Face up to it, or stay happy that at least you can still spam Livesearch.
Link building is getting harder and harder… I’m seeing a lot of interesting commentary of how link building is harder now than it used to be. Those of us in the link building profession should not be dismayed. Be happy! This is good news. You want it to be nearly impossible to acquire a link except from truly relevant pages that only link to truly outstanding content, with no strings, fees, or reciprocity required. Then, you will be able to stop taking on clients that you really don’t want to work for anyway. One of the blessings of having started out doing this so long ago is that I can pick and choose what I’ll work on. But the truth is anyone can choose who they work with. Just do it. Say no to any client that you know will require spammy approaches to link building.
No-follow means no value? If a link is no-follwed it has no search engine value, right? Wrong. The exact opposite could in fact be the case. Also, if I ran a search engine and I made sure my crawler adhered to the no-follow feature within the <a href> tag, I’d also make sure I could override that feature on a case by case basis. Wouldn’t you? That said, if you were Google/Yahoo/Microsoft, would you do the same?
Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy to a monthly private newsletters on linking for subscribers. The Link Week column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.