The Drudge Effect: why linking makes sense

Some online publishers are still wary about linking to other sites’ content, particularly that of their rivals. Why give them more exposure? Why send readers – and therefore advertisers – elsewhere when you’re spending all you time and money on keeping them?

Because, as Scott Karp over at Publishing 2.0 points out, it makes complete sense: good linking improves engagement and ups your readership.

He cites Nielsen Online stats fo the top 30 US news sites for May 2008 that ranks sites by sessions per user. The winner? The Drudge Report with 21.1 sessions per user and an audience of 2.7m.

And Nielsen’s stats for June 2008 show that the average Drudge user spent a staggering 59 minutes on the site.

Drudge is of course simply a list of links, but this simple site has 500m page views, 12m unique visitors and 1.95bn ad impressions every month. Karp says:

That’s right folks. Drudge beats every original content news site by a two-to-one margin. Drudge is also one of the largest news sites that isn’t built on an offline brand or communications portal.

Still think sending people away with links is not a good strategy online?

18-09-08 update

Karp now ups the ante in a new post urging traditional news sites to start automatically aggregating the news on their homegpages. There is, he says, no rival to Drudge and as most homepages don’t change very radically throughout the day, why would you go back more than once a day?

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