Shawn Gold shared this great soundbite at the AdTech conference in Chicago more than a month ago, and it stuck with me as a wonderful distillation of what many bloggers and non-bloggers have already noticed … search engines love blogs. In a way, the structure of blogs is a throwback to the days of academia where hyperlinks brought the ability to connect disparate sources of content, and relevance rankings were developed based on the quantity and quality of these links. The modern (and more complex) search algorithms, in part, came when cross linking could no longer be used as the sole metric for relevance. Sites were not relevant because they linked to many others and others linked to them. The Nike.com site was relevant for the keyword "shoes" because they sold shoes and because people were seeking the site, even if no one linked to it. For many years, hyperlinks were on a slow spiral towards obsolesence as navigation became the most important element of interface design (the hundreds of books on information architecture over the last five years prove this point).
With the rise of blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, folksonomy and many other growing elements of this new media landscape, the importance of hyperlinks is once again on the rise. Technorati changed their ranking structure recently, giving many bloggers a big jump in their readership stats almost overnight, partly due to the fact that more importance were given to hyperlinks into and out of content. While many bloggers used to ask to be added to a blogroll — now trackbacks have become the new standard of acceptance (at least for business blogs). This symbolizes the increasingly interdependent view of the Internet, where the value of content is determined by how valuable the rest of the Internet population thinks that content is. It is a self selecting model where often the best content or sites will rise to the top. The best thing about the Internet startup days of the 90s was that a small company could easily compete with a big one by focusing online. Blogs offer the modern equivalent, often bumping far larger and more corporate sites further down the Google page listings. For our clients concerned about their Google page rankings, entering the blogosphere in some way may be more than a smart move. It may be a necessity.