In the past six months there has been a lot of talk about ‘via’ links — the links that link-blog posts use to give credit to other people and websites for turning them on to particular links. It is a courteous practice to list a via link to another site and I tend to do it when I remember where I found the link, or if there is good reason to do so.
I have seen a few people now not doing via attributions and also saying that they find the pratice rather pointless. I couldn’t care less about whether someone cites me in a via link, and I doubt that I make any substantial traffic difference to sites that I provide via links to.
Or do I?
I have been reading In The Plex which is a sort of biography on Google itself — in the book they make reference to just how important linking is on the web. This got me thinking about how we conduct ourselves when link blogging.
We all know how PageRank works, the more links people are sending to a particular page, the higher the PageRank — the higher the PageRank the higher you appear on Google search results. PageRank is derived, by links between sites.1
Additionally sites like Alexa.com, that try to “rank” websites, will use “sites linking in” as a metric for success. Ergo, by linking to the source site with a tiny and easy ‘via’ attribution you are essentially helping to support that site — indirectly.
Again, I don’t care if people provide attribution to me in form of via links — but I do know that I want to help out other sites that have helped to provide me with content. That’s why I use via links and have since the beginning.
In short, don’t use via attributions to be nice — use them to help show other people sites that you find relevant on the web. Use via as a way of sharing hidden gems with all of us, while also supporting those hidden gems.
This is a very simplified explanation, but accurate enough for our purposes. ↩