And there is some truth to the platitude, as there is to every platitude. Sometimes you do something so incredible, or have a product that’s so remarkable, that people are compelled to link to or share your content. It happens.
And I understand why Google would want to focus on this. Google’s search engine was built on PageRank, which is based on academic citations.
Why Do People Link?
Academics cite people whose research came before, in order to gain credibility for their own work. If you’re an academic writing a paper on Deconstruction and you don’t reference Derrida, people in the field are going to look at you like you’re loony, and they’ll throw your paper in the trash (if they pay any attention to it at all).
To think of Google as the cultural equivalent of this is to idealize the search engine in a way that I’m sure bodes well for Google’s public image.
But there’s another side of it that I’ve never heard search engines talk about. People link to websites organically for a number of reasons. Sometimes they’re just defining things, which would explain why Wikipedia, a place with no original content, is, ironically, the number one site in the world in terms of organic traffic.
Sometimes people who link reference a news story, regardless of the original source, which is one of the reasons CNET, Mashable and iBTimes outrank the Oscar Mayer site and the 360i site for “bacon scented alarm clock” — a product and ad campaign created by Oscar Mayer and its agency, 360i.
Sometimes, The …read more