Robert Scoble aka Scobleizer has an interesting theory on linking to other people. Although, on my personal blog I would not hesitate to link to a competitor, I find it hard to agree to link to a competitor on a professional or corporate site. Every month the Google page rank changes, affecting not only the position of the site on Google’s index but also the number of page views, advertising clicks and other statistical reports.
Based on prior documents and white papers on Google’s Page Rank Algorithm, part of the actual page rank is determined based on the number of ‘credible’ and ‘authoritative’ sites that link back to your site. This is related closely to what Scoble refers to. But why would I link to a competitor, knowing that the resultant effect is giving my competitors a higher page rank and also diverting potential traffic to them? This is one side of the coin that is a constant battle.
On the other hand, in a number of situations, linking to a competitor may prove to be one of the most fulfilling experiences. It helps an organization realize the weaknesses of their own site and also may help establish a collaborative relationship with their competitor. Last but not least, competitors usually have a common goal of bringing the best to the rest of the world, so linking to them is probably the most effective way of attaining this objective.
Now if only I could merge both my personal and corporate ways of thinking. Yet another case of identifying my ethical stand on this issue.