Ever since the rumor TechCrunch spread about AOL dumping Netscape’s social news service last week I’ve grown more and more intrigued about the portal, its influence on traffic and search ranking influence.
Personally, I have not had a news story from one of my own sites hit the Netscape homepage in a long time and was surprised this morning to see that Search Engine Journal has received about 2,500 referrals from Netscape.com over the past 24 hours after a post about Fox News altering Wikipedia pages became ‘popular’ on the social site.
Activity on Netscape
As of time of this posting, the story has received 126 votes, 12 sinks (similar to a bury on Digg), and 110 comments by 44 members.
I find the commenting to voting ratio to be of interest, as there are almost as many comments as votes, mostly arguments between several Netscape users about Fox News, politics and liberal agendas.
Even though the post was not a political one, it did spur a lot of political discussion as Fox News is associated with Conservative or Republican politics in the United States, so some readers believe an attack on Fox News is an attack on their political views.
I had originally submitted the story under the Do No Evil category to lend a bit of sarcasm to the posting. In my opinion, media outlets should not be altering Wikipedia pages of other media outlets and the personalities associated with them, so since I think this is wrong (or evil), I placed it under Do No Evil.
There are two other reasons I categorized the post under this category.
1. Since the original blog post here on Search Engine Journal received lots of negative comments defending Fox News, I did not want to plant this story under the obvious ‘lots of traffic’ category of Politics. I believe that if I did so, a great deal more of Fox evangelists would have hit ‘Sink’ on the story, cutting it short of its potential to grow. Furthermore, the story was not political, even though the discussions around it are, and by filing it under Politics I would have been performing an injustice to Netscape and opening up my site to more flaming.
2. If the story was destined to make it to the Netscape homepage, I felt that Do No Evil may be a better route than other categories as it is a less used, less gamed and less submitted to category. The same goes for Digg, if you submit a story to Technology>Tech Industry News, you’ll need more Diggs to make it to the homepage than if you submitted it to Sports>Hockey.
One of the biggest differences between Netscape and sites like Digg is that Netscape pays editors to oversee and enhance posts made to the social news sharing site. A reason being is so interesting or shocking news makes it to the homepage, and not just a bunch of “Make Money with AdSense” stories (which still make it form time to time, especially from the DIY category).
The Netscape Editors really beefed up the post when it become popular by placing a Fox Image to the right of the story, enhancing votes and perhaps even click thru’s to the original post on Search Engine Journal.
Linking & Traffic
One major complaint I have of Netscape is using the old Weblogs Inc. trick of ‘hiding’ the outgoing link to the original source. Unlike Digg, which links to the original story from the title of each submittal, Netscape makes the outgoing link the absolute last option before !Report in the linking and selection process.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that if the Netscape outgoing links were set up like Digg, the traffic from Netscape would triple. And this would give publishers more of an incentive to place Netscape buttons on their sites, ask their readers to vote on Netscape, and further market Netscape on third party sites.
Sure, View Story is an option, but the user is taken to the original story which is served through a Netscape Frame, an old stickiness trick from the old Web 2.0 says which in my opinion, harms the user experience and does not give 100% credit back to the original source of the story. Netscape members do however have the option to Opt-Out of the Netscape Navigator Frame.
Regardless, 2,500 extra visitors to a web site for a submittal which took 3 minutes is nothing to complain about. If I ran a news site which was more attractive the the masses, Netscape submittals of all of our stories of interest would be a top priority, as it not only builds extra visitor and pageview numbers, but also authority backlinks for search engine rankings.
Search Engine Rankings
I have personally witnessed new business sites with the majority of their inbound links being from Netscape receive high rankings for long tail and targeted keyterms on Google and Yahoo for not only their original pages, but also for their Netscape listings.
Remember, Netscape.com is one of the oldest and most trusted domains and sites in the history of the Internet. The site is ranked as the #552 most popular site online by Alexa, has been active since 1994, and enjoys over 10 million inbound links from some of the most popular sites on the Internet. And since Netscape does not use the NoFollow tag on its outbound links, some of that link juice, if only a prism of Google Mist, will fall upon your site and help with search engine rankings.