Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights publication issue 7:9 (August 2007) is available now, with a long article On Authority, Worth and Linkbaiting discussing the (my phrasing) Britannica Blog "link-bait" party. I want to give a slight correction to one Google aspect:
I'm focusing on the blog because of something Seth Finkelstein (and, I believe, others) have suggested: That the controversy over Michael Gorman's posts is, at least to some extent, linkbaiting -- behavior designed to increase the number of inbound links to Britannica blog, increasing its visibility on search engines. If that's true, it seems to be working: Google shows a PageRank of 7 in early July 2007, a level that usually takes a while to reach.
In fact, the time delay there is too short for a PageRank increase to show up in the public reports - the data Google usually displays for easy public consumption is typically a few months old. The Britannica blog has a PageRank 7 mostly because it's linked off the main Britannica page (which is PageRank 8) as well as article pages and similar.
In fact, the Britannica organization seems notably SEO-aware and marketing-conscious. For example, they've previously sent out a press release about "Michael Feldman blogs at Britannica site". Anyway:
Was this genuine controversy or incited controversy? ...
I will give Gorman himself the benefit of the doubt and not presume that he was setting out to incite controversy for the sake of controversy. I'm not inclined to be so generous regarding Britannica -- and, frankly, I wonder why the firm is so anxious to have a hot blog.
Well, I can't speak for them, but there's many obvious answers - e.g. to be part of the pontification (NOT "conversation" - A-listers speak down from on-high, to the audience), for the personal publicity (intellectuals are hardly immune from ego), for the product publicity (Encyclopedia Britannica is commercial product, remember), for the general awareness and promotion that comes with high Google placement, and so on.
It's actually not a bad blog on its own terms, a bit like an upscale liberal-arts type magazine. But that's not going to draw readers like taking a stick to the web-evangelist hornet's-nest will.
They do seem to read at least some blogger reactions, or so it's said :-)
By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on July 24, 2007 10:32 AM (Infothought permalink)
# tpanelas Says: July 23rd, 2007 at 10:17 pm
Yes, we read you. You have a lot of fans at Britannica. I hope this doesn't unnerve you.