Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Widget Review: LinkWithin

Widget: LinkWithin
Owner/Distributor: Who knows? There are no details available on the website!
Technical Details: Widget produces three relevant/related posts from your blog with a photo thumbnail and full post title for each at the end of every blog post. The plugin is available for Wordpress, Typepad, and Blogger
Summary: Widget looks good and works reasonably well in terms of identifying internal links to relevant posts. Simple and quick installation of code on Blogger. Website provides a link to FAQs but this didn't answer any of my questions (see "Think Again" below). The major failing is that the website lacks basic details (ie postal address and policies covering data security and privacy) which should be essential and available on any any website which asks you for your email address.
Suitable for: Bloggers who want to try and increase the number of relevant internal links available to readers - but only if they use an email address which they can dump if need be!
  • free to install / no plans for an advertising model as yet
  • installation is easy(on Blogger)
  • possible to review installation code
  • nice clean design - will integrate well with a variety of blogs
  • no requirement to provide any personal and identifiable information (but you do need to provide an email address - see below)
Think Again?
  • you need to know what you're doing if you want to try customising the code
  • no instructions provided if you want to change the position of the widget
  • you give away your email address before you see how the widget works on your blog - Bad!
  • no privacy policy relating to your email address and its connection to the blog URL - Bad!
  • no security policy (as above) - Bad!
  • no details about who produced this and how they can be contacted other than an email address - Bad!

I've been seeing LinkWithin on a number of blogger's websites recently. Following my post on Making A Mark on Monday about 5 positive ways to help your art website rank well in Google, I decided to try this new widget plugin out on this blog and write a review about it.

Why? Well this widget addresses one of the factors highlighted on Monday's post Link Popularity within the Site's Internal link Structure on Making A Mark.
  • First - Google likes to see you making navigation to related content easy for your visitors.
  • Second - this is an excellent way of increasing page views on your blog. Seeing options around more content may persuade casual visitors to return again and read/see some more.

LinkWithin is a widget that links to related stories from your archive under each story on your blog.

Don't Let Your Past Stories Go to Waste! We retrieve and index all stories from your blog archive, not just recent stories, making them accessible to new or casual readers of your blog who would not otherwise encounter them.

Increase Pageviews, Keep Readers Engaged - The widget links to stories that are relevant and interesting to readers of a particular story, keeping them engaged
LinkWithin produces a related posts with a photo thumbnail at the end of each blog post - just look at the end of this post to see what I mean.

It's not clear how the widget produces the links. I think it's doing more than just looking at the tags/labels given to each post. It may well be scanning text as well.

It was particularly interesting to test it on this blog given that it's very new and there are not that too many blog posts as yet. In theory, that should make it easier to get a good match. It also means I can tell how good the widget is at doing it's job. At the moment, I've noticed that the three posts highlighted change every time the page is refreshed. Overall I think my initial conclusion - after reviewing what it produced for a number of posts - is that it's not bad but it could be better.

The plugin is available for Wordpress, Typepad, and Blogger. The instructions for installing the widget on Blogger were nice and clear. There are also instructions which tailor it to different types of webware. HOWEVER you can't see the instructions until you've included and supplied your email email address.

The html for the page then includes both your blog and address and your email - which is why you don't see the page linked to here!

This is what it looks like though - see image on right

I thought the actual widget itself looked very good - it has a nice clean design which fits well with a lot of different websites and is one of the better aspects of this widget.

The bad news: My major reservations relate to
  • a complete lack of data about the company which owns/markets this widget and the postal address where they can be contacted (something they'll have to remedy before they take any money off anybody - including advertisers). Providing an email addresses is simply not good enough! They are either very naieve or negligent or they don't care about your data because, despite the fact they ask for your email address, the website also has............
I'm going to keep an eye on this widget and how it gets on as the posts on this blog multiply and will report back in due course.

However I am NOT installing this widget on any of my other blogs unless and until the website omissions relating to widget owner details, data security and privacy are remedied.

I've written to the email addresses supplied on the website and I'll update this post with a note about what sort of response I get. None of the issues I've raised are difficult to deal with - but in my view they should have been dealt with before this site went live.

I'd also caution people installing this widget to be very careful about which email address they supply.

BTW - there are a fair few reviews out there about this widget and not one of the ones I read identified the issue about the lack of an address or policy relating to data protection. They may think the practices used by this website are OK - but I don't they are and I think you should be aware of what they are.


Anonymous said...

I'd be cautious about LinkWithin.

LinkWithin's netblock owner is SoftLayer Technologies Inc.

I believe SoftLayer have been used as a launching point for spam blog entries directed to blog sites.

There supposedly is or was a reporting on to the effect of these incidents (but I can't confirm as I haven't seen the report). Nevertheless, I guess this should be a word of caution to people using LinkWithin.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I did a search and this is the assessment I found - which suggests that Softlayer is minimal risk

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I did a search and this is the assessment I found - which suggests that Softlayer is minimal risk

Susan said...

Thanks for the review, just added LinkWithin it to my blog and like it so far.

Cheryl said...

I'm curious. This was posted several years ago. What was your conclusion about it's safety?

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Well if you check out my blogs you'll I've been using it ever since!

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