In this post, I would like to briefly introduce a hyperlink analysis – one of the traditional online research methods.
The social researchers were pretty quick to understand and analyze the network nature of the internet and websites. They managed to develop several methods. One of them is a hyperlink analysis.
The primary unit of research is a hyperlink between two websites. The most common approach is to automatically collect all hyperlinks from a particular website or a group of websites and create a network relationship between them. Using social network analysis method, it is possible to calculate the position of a particular website in the network of websites, its importance or significance. In this way, the researchers create networks, segments and clusters of actors. For more information, check the works by Park – Thelwall (2003 or 2005) or Marres (2012).
To illustrate the method, I will use two articles.
Ackland and O´Neill (2011) focused on the websites of the environment movement. They managed to visualize the network of relationships and create segments based on topics.
Similarly, Rogers (2010) focused on the E-culture in the Netherlands. Using the method, he managed to visualize the most important websites, from which the members of a certain community collect information.
Accordingly, the hyperlink analysis might be an interesting method for anyone studying a public debate about a certain topic or to study relationships between a pre-defined set of actors.