Jun 27 2012

Linking around with LinkSmart

At the core of the Internet is the ability to connect together content. It was really this hyperlinking between pages that in many ways defined the difference between the early Internet and the bulletin boards and Usenet that preceded it. Google clearly saw the value of links, which they interpreted as people “voting” on the online content which they saw as most valuable. At the core of their search engine is the measurement of that linking activity. However while a huge amount of attention and investment has gone into tools to support publishers’ ability to create and post content and, of course, to create advertising around that content (literally around, by surrounding it in ads), publishers have lacked tools to properly support inserting, analyzing, managing and optimizing links in their content. Inserting links has remained a highly manual activity and a very static one – once a page has been created the links that were initially inserted are the links that remain.

LinkSmart is changing all that with the Total Link Management (TLM) product, which they announced today. TLM is an intuitive, scalable, automated platform that analyzes and controls keyword text linking with the goal of optimizing reader traffic flow – but all under the complete control of the publisher (no spam-like text link ads, no pop-ups). TLM works by identifying valuable keyword links within articles that have the highest performing click engagement, then utilizes the publisher’s own organic traffic to help readers find related content within their site or that of a partner or affiliate. In early results with LinkSmart’s pilot partners, the software performed 15 to 20 times better than other common traffic optimization techniques. The idea is to first give publishes insight into the links on their site and the click behavior of their site visitors. The system then gives publishers the ability to dynamically rewrite existing links, redirect traffic to different locations on their site or a partner site, suggests new words to highlight with links and gives publishers a complete view of how traffic is moving around. This is a huge opportunity for publishers to take control of their key asset – the content which they produce – and use it most effectively to better the experience for their site visitors while at the same time generating more traffic and more revenue for their business.

LinkSmart was built for publishers by a publisher. Pete Sheinbaum came up with the idea behind LinkSmart based on the experiences he had as a web publisher (Pete was the   CEO of DailyCandy which was sold to Comcast a few years ago). I met Pete well before that sale and he actually worked from our office while he was at DailyCandy for a while. LinkSmart was born in the Foundry office several years ago as Pete started working on his next big idea shortly after leaving Comcast.

I’ve written in the past about the benefits of “stealth mode” as well as the debates we’ve had at Foundry around whether or not companies should remain quiet about what they are planning, or be public about it from day one. In the case of LinkSmart, they’ve taken stealth to a new level here at Foundry – spending several years refining the idea and the product and working with early publisher partners to make the TLM both extremely powerful but also easy and intuitive to use.

So welcome LinkSmart to the light of day! We’re really excited about what you are doing!