Knowing When To "Go"
Recently, in response to feedback, we have been putting more external links onto the BBC site and have also started using tracking for external links on the BBC News sites.
Essentially the reason for tracking links is to allow us to report to the BBC Trust how many click-throughs we are generating to external sites so that they can accurately monitor this.
We have had some feedback that the way we are doing this has an unintended side effect ("BBC pledges to link out - but holds back the Google juice").
Strategically there is no intention to drink all the Google Juice. The reasons for this are less sinister and I thought it worth explaining.
The system the BBC uses for tracking external links has been around for years, but we only recently added this tracking to the external links on the Right Hand Side of the BBC News site. You will find the /go/ tracking system in use across the BBC website and the way it redirects links is nothing new. You can see the mechanism working if you use a /go/ URL off the BBC site (e.g. this). (Editor's note 6.44 p.m.: To see the tracking mechanism in action, you need to be on a website that isn't the BBC. We suggest you copy this entire link into a new browser window or tab: http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/bristol/content/features/2003/01/13/ sayingaboutus.shtml/ext/_auto/-/http://www.venue.co.uk/ )
On the BBC site you don't get this delay, but you can see what it is doing - it is basically logging that you have clicked a link from he BBC to an external site by going to the intermediary page and then sends you on to this page. Many sites use similar mechanisms and have to deal with the side effects of this.
So thanks for your comments but because of the workload around the US election, bear with us while we improve the way this works.
I can't speak for the history of /go/ tracking at the Beeb, but there is some more background in Martin Belam's post here for those interested...
John O'Donovan is Chief Architect, BBC FM&T Journalism
Google Gulp image courtesy of Google