Turkey government websites used to boost Sabah newspaper readership

The biggest supporter of the government in Turkish media Sabah has been using public websites in Turkey to increase its online engagement, reported Turkish website Veryansın TV.

Websites of various public bodies including at least four ministries and the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) have been used to backlink to the pro-government newspaper Sabah’s website, Veryansın TV found.

Backlinking is the practice of linking to a website from outside sources. Under abusive uses, it can be used to artificially inflate the reach and relevance of a given website to achieve higher rankings and better search engine optimisation (SEO) results, which directly translates to more visitors, and usually more monetary gain, for the backlinked entity.

The more sources link to a given website, the higher it will place in web searches, driving further traffic. 

In various gov.tr-domain websites for Turkey’s Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Health and the Directorate of Religious Affairs have placed hyperlinks on frequently-searched for terms that direct users back to Sabah’s website when clicked. The SEO effects of the practice would work even if the links are not clicked on, but are amplified the more that they are.

Examples from the backlinking are as follows, with more to be found on Veryansın TV:

IMAGE 1: The word “eğitim” (“education”) is linked to Sabah’s website on a Ministry of National Education page.

Sabah's backlinking on Ministry of Education

IMAGE 2: On the page of the Union of Municipalities of Turkey, the international organisation of Akıllı Şehirler Zirvesi (“Smart Cities Summit”) is hyperlinked, encouraging users to click on it, only to be directed to Sabah’s website again.

Sabah backlinking on Ministry of Interior Affairs

IMAGE 3: The word “kurban” (“sacrifice”) is linked back to Sabah’s website in an information section for the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha on a web page of the Directorate of Religious Affairs.

Sabah backlinking on Directorate of Religious Affairs

IMAGE 4: On an informative web page of the Ministry of Health instructing users how to get appointments for doctor’s visits, the word “hastane” (“hospital”) links back to Sabah.

Sabah backlinking on Ministry of Health