I've been noticing that there are far fewer links in posts these days. Five years ago when I first started blogging the blogosphere was all about links.
These days I see fewer and fewer links within posts. Just take a look at Techmeme, which aggregates new blog posts.
Initially, Techmeme's creator Gabe Rivera did a fantastic job with his algorithm. He was able to surface lots of interesting posts and also show who was linking to that post. Techmeme relied on links to find the best content.
But today, Techmeme relies on people, Megan McCarthy, and Twitter people (@atul) to find interesting posts because there are very few sites linking to other posts.
Looking at Techmeme today, there are many stories that have no links to them at all, or they are links from within their own sites. For example, a story on Sir Martin Sorrell (Sir Martin Sorrell: Rupert Murdoch's pay wall plan is right) from the Daily Telegraph shows one link, from a Daily Telegraph blog.
The demise of linking seems as if we have gone back to where things stood five years ago, when newspapers hated linking out to other news sites, or even acknowledging that other news sites existed.
Bloggers loved linking and many still do it -- but not as much, especially if they've transitioned into online news magazines such as GigaOm, or ReadWriteWeb, blogs only in name because they use blogging software (Wordpress) to publish but act like and look like the traditional old media.
This all has a more serious implication: Google PageRank. The whole bedrock of Google's search is in links. That was its founders' great insight: pages with more links to them are more important than those with fewer links. There is a PageRank patent.
Not everyone has reduced their linking. Spammers and publishers of commerce sites are continuing to use links a lot because that's what Google pays attention to in determining the quality of a page. This means that if non-spammers are linking less then Google's first page of results is going to get flooded by spam.
Maybe you are already noticing less relevance in Google results?
Will Google reward pages that have fewer links in them? Or will it penalize pages that have too many links to them because it's likely to be spam? It would seem Google must make these types of adjustments.