In December 2009 the paper “Googling Companies – A Webometric Approach to Business Studies“, by Liwen Vaughan and Esteban Romero-Frías, was published in the Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods.
ROMERO-FRÍAS, E. (2009) “Googling Companies – A Webometric Approach to Business Studies”. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 7(1): 93-106.
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So far Internet studies have focused mainly on using website content for gathering business information, however web hyperlinks have not been exploited enough for business purposes yet. Webometric techniques are based on the exploitation of information contained in the hyperlinks that connect the different documents contained on the Web. Webometrics could be considered as a new discipline that applies bibliometric techniques to the quantitative study of the Web, but also a discipline that progressively develops its own concepts and methodology. So far studies in this field have focused on academic and scholarly web spaces; however this methodology is equally applicable to commercial sites which are more predominant on the Web. This paper is intended to show how webometric techniques could be applied to business and management studies. Therefore, it describes a number of basic concepts and techniques and the way in which they have been applied to these fields so far. Firstly, some studies found that the number of links pointing to companies’ websites correlates significantly with the business performance measures of the entity. This finding suggests that links to a website could be used as a timely indicator of business performance. Secondly, the examination of co‑links, which refers to webpages that links two business sites simultaneously, have been used for competitive intelligence purposes. These studies are based on the idea that the number of co‑links to the websites of a pair of companies is a measure of the similarity between them. For instance, this similarity measure between companies in the same industry can provide information about their competitive positions. Finally, motivations for the creation of hyperlinks to business sites could be analysed through a content analysis approach in order to get confirmation about the business relevance and nature of links. This view complements the quantitative perspective to link and co‑link research, providing a brand new approach to business studies.