I was organising (read: throwing out) all my old University notes the other day when I came accross an old, fogotten module I did called ‘Media Law’. Looking through the notes it struck me that things have changed so much over the last 8 years without me even realising it.
The notes that stood out to me involved linking. Or to be more accurate, where to link to. Way back when I was studying Media Law, it was drummed into us that linking to anywhere other than a company’s homepage was a big ‘no-no’. Indeed, there have been court cases where one side has tried to prevent another from ‘deep linking’ to their website. Take for example:
In 1996 the Shetland News became aware that the Shetland Times was displaying their news headlines on the Shetland Times website. A Shetland Times reader could read the beginnings of a story that was previously printed in the Shetland News paper. The viewer could then click on the link and be taken to the relevant webpage on the Shetland News website and bypass the Shetland Times homepage. The idea was that by linking anywhere other than the homepage had the potential to stop users from seeing the Shetland News advertising and could possible lose them revenue. To quote;
Thus, access to the pursuers’ items (as published in printed editions and reproduced by them on their web site) can be obtained by by-passing the pursuers’ front page and accordingly missing any advertising material which may appear on it.
How times change…
Nowadays deep linking is a valid SEO technique and to have someone external linking to your content is sought after not something to be condemmed. We go out of our way to link to everywhere in our own website and regularly link to random pages on someone elses. We rarely link directly to a websites homepage because, well, it’s usually not got the information we need!
I’m sure there are still some backward companies who would prefer it didn’t happen but for the most part it’s an acceptable technique for gaining maximum exposure of your website.
It did make me wonder though:
how may companies out there would have an issue with this if they knew? By that we mean, there will be companies out there (who probably aren’t being SEO’d) who would not know who was linking to them or how to find out so anyone could be linking to anywhere.
Also, when did it become acceptable to link to whichever page we liked?
Is it that times have changed or just that no one has made an issue of it lately?
I guess the answer to those questions will only be known if another case ends up in court although with all the social networking going on now, I’d hate to be the company that tried to complain!