Google Has Made People Afraid To Link

    August 20, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google has made it so people are scared to link to content. That’s what it has come to.

I don’t think it’s ever been Google’s intention to scare people away from linking when it’s natural and deserving, but its never-ending advice, warnings, rules and policy re-wordings have simply led to mass confusion, and people being afraid to link to legitimate content in a legitimate way for fear that Google will penalize their site in search rankings.

Are webmasters being overly paranoid about their linking practices or are they legitimately afraid of what Google might do to their sites? Share your thoughts in the comments.

We’ve written several articles in the past about how fear of Google has led to people frantically rushing to have external links to their sites removed, in some cases even when these links are totally legitimate (meaning playing by Google’s rules) or creating non-Google-related value. Sometimes, they’ve even considered making natural links unnatural.

Sure, some of it has been overreaction, but a Google penalty or loss of rankings can be a huge deal for a business. Companies have laid off staff because of it.

While most of the time, we’re talking about people being afraid of Google not liking the links that are pointing to their own site, people are now also worried about linking to other sites.

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable writes, “I see questions popping up left and right. Can I link to this site? If so, should I nofollow it anyway? Should I make sure to not use keyword rich anchor text when linking?”

“It is making natural linking unnatural because of the fear of linking is now killing natural links,” he adds. “Publishers and webmasters are less likely to link out because of that fear.”

He points to a WebmasterWorld thread where people are voicing their concerns.

Simply put, if websites stop linking to each other, the fabric of the web crumbles. Links are what make it a web. Other wise it’s just a bunch of silos.

Again, I don’t think Google wants people to stop linking to each other, but people are clearly concerned about what might happen if they do link, and especially without a nofollow. It doesn’t help that Google recently advised that Infographic links be nofollowed. Here you have, at least in some cases, legitimate content that people editorially link to because they like that content and want to share it with their readers. Why should these links not count? Why is it so different? People that include others’ infographics on their sites make an editorial decision to do so. I know because I have made that decision editorially on occasion. And I’m happy to give some link love to the creator for taking the time to put together that content that I found valuable enough to share with my readers.

If I created an infographic, and an authoritative site like CNN or The New York Times wanted to use it, and would certainly expect a link and its corresponding PageRank juice.

But there are bigger problems still with people not linking. For one, credit is often not going to be given when due. Traffic to an original source is not going to happen. Readers are going to be deprived of additional, helpful and contextual information.

From Google’s perspective, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for sites not to link to one another appropriately, because as far as we know, PageRank still carries weight in Google’s organic rankings. That said, Google does appear to be doing everything it possibly can to not have to point users to other websites.

There have been numerous reports of Google increasingly showing more of its own stuff and less organic results on more and more SERPs. Hell, I even see Google displaying a Google+ link for an article I’ve written rather than the article page itself on SERPs. You know, I wrote an article, then shared it on Google+, and Google decides to show the Google+ link rather than the real link. This happens fairly often, actually.

So really, it’s going to be interesting to see how long organic rankings really even matter. But they do still matter for now, and some are probably going to suffer from not getting the links they deserve.

What do you think of all of this linking fear? Reasonable or not? Let us know in the comments.

Image: Matt Cutts.com

  • Jeff

    Nah.. That’s a bit of a stretch. It’s only made us SEO-savvy webmasters afraid to link out. (which most of us were already hesitant to do anyways, but for other page-juice reasons)

    Your average person that runs a website/blog is still going to link to stuff, for better or worse.

  • Roger M

    – google page rank algorithm died when they were forced to introduce “nofollow” tag to links.

    – flogging a dead algorithm do not make it get up and run.

    – they have jumped shark from symbiotic to parasitic mode, webmasters should treat them like one.

    – did you notice them try hard to hide links to our websites in web / images search results to reduce click through rates, they want to use our content but don’t want to send searchers to our websites.

  • http://www.searcheminence.com Byron Hardie

    Between the Penguin updates, the nofollow requests on widgets and Press Releases, and the recent changes in the Guidelines I think many people are just wondering whether Google is trying to kill classical Link Building in general.

    In some cases the answer is Yes they are trying to eliminate the link noise that comes from much of the Grey-Hat world including the abuse of Guest Posting, directory listings, and syndicated content. But the big problem is that they haven’t necessarily drawn the line in the sand saying one type of link is good and another is bad.

    There are lots of examples where the same type of link could be legit in one case or appear to be sponsored in another, so Google is left to try to algorithmically determine Intent. This is where the rubber meets the road. They have made their guidelines so vague that many digital marketing experts are left to wonder if even legit marketing campaigns and social promotions could actually produce links that Google doesn’t like because they may appear incentivized.

    Eric Ward talked about the potential of looking at link profiles and the history of a site to determine intent but this has its own issues as well.

    I think Google will effectively scare some grey-hat SEOs to move from #777777 to something closer to #dddddd. But for those that have already abandoned classical link outreach techniques and have been focusing on Content Marketing, it probably wont have much of an impact.

  • Webmaster

    That search engine you are talking about on this post, That one.. It is not interested on searching anymore, all they want is to fill up their bank accounts and deliver all the internet traffic to their own sites.

    They are on an alliance with Yahoo and Bing Microsoft, and to think that the internet will be like in the nineties, it is a dream if those companies are monopolizing the web till now.

    So, lets don’t waste the time talking about spammers purification of the internet searches and results, it is all a lie for their business corps.
    And by the way, stop putting the videos of that idiot Matt Cutts, because he is a puppet manipulated by the big Google staff

  • http://www.linkresearchtools.com/case-studies/pure-spam-deep-dive/ Jennifer

    Most of the webmaster do black hat link building which is not right and Google continuously updating its algorithm to prevent from the Spam. Google is penalizing websites by marking them as “Pure Spam” manually. Webmaster should aware that how they are linking to each other, It should not be unnatural. Otherwise Penguin punishment there can be manual penalties looming for websites which use unnatural links.

  • http://nono.com GST

    Not only are webmasters afraid to link to websites , they are now afraid to be linked to…the web is breaking.

    Google! Remove linking from your algorithms before things get any worse.


  • http://www.braidwooddesignstudio.com Judit

    In a way I am glad, I am no longer inundated with emails trying to sell thousands of links

  • R Jones

    The agenda of Google is purely for the benefit of implementing a long term plan of maximizing revenues. It has very little to do with the user experience.
    If it was based on user experience, why are mobile friendly websites not given priority in results pages when searched from a mobile device. Also, Why have they abolished the right to use Adwords only targeting mobile devices? I have a mobile site dedicated to mobile users, i do not want any other type of traffic. At this time it can be overcome by downgrading the bid for non mobile devices to something which would not appear for non mobile searches, but Google limit this ratio between mobile and non mobile traffic… Just watch over time how they minimise this ratio to a level where it is not possible to select traffic from specific device types. Such a shame that all companies who achieve global positions become abusers of their position. Maybe one day it will be someone else, might sound great, until they become the same that is!

  • http://www.london-unattached.com Fiona Maclean

    I am probably said ‘average’ user. I DO link still, but not paid for links which I am marginally paranoid about. Personally I’d welcome a little more transparency.

    Common sense says that if there is ‘black hat’ ‘grey hat’ and ‘white hat’ SEO, something is very wrong from the people who control the ship (google).

  • http://www.n0t.info Luana S.

    The main cause of linking out, to me at least, is that now for every link(paid or natural) I might get a removal request followed by a threat (“if you don’t remove or nofollow the link, we will be forced to disavow your website!”). This is crossing borders with paranoia. AND Google doesn’t own the Web; the web is owned by humankind, in its entirety. That means businesses, educational organizations, volunteer associations, individuals and even kids. I wonder what’s going to happen if a kid running a personal blog were to get a threatening message from a company ordering them to remove a link to their favorite videogame website…

    ~ Luana S.

    • Julo

      Yes, with this I absolutely agree “if you don’t remove or nofollow the link, we will be forced to disavow your website!” I already got too many such requests, so the people are scared and from the former friends/colleagues who wanted to have a relevant links on my sites, I deal with the enemies, who want to destroy my site just becase of that link :) Google is going to be really dumb. From the smart thing they are going to do dumb thing.

      • http://www.n0t.info Luana S.

        What Google is trying to do is very dangerous.

        Linking is what makes the Web… well, the Web. If you start isolating nodes in a tree, the entire structure begins to collapse. The creator of PageRank knew this; in fact, the original algorithm was all about the algorithmic analysis of the edges that connect all the nodes (webpages) on the Web.

        If people get too paranoid about Google’s new guidelines (which involves even infographics and guest posts now), the Web will end up dismantled, or collapsed to a tiny, tiny web of only selected webpages— but then it will be like a single castle where all the rich live, and kilometers of isolated surroundings where all the poor struggles to live.

        Is that what we really want? :( I hope not. We’d better not listen to Google’s latest paranoias.

        ~ Luana

  • Julo

    I have two blogs, one big, it’s full of guest posts (like 1000 or more from the total number of 1600) and is therefore full of links. I also sold lots of banners and links on that site.

    On the other hand, I have a small blog with a total number of 250 articles and just few guest posts (like 10), two banners and no links. I have to say that I have been quite surprised when I received email from google that this small site has been manually spammed (or something like that) and my pagerank dropped from PR1 to PR0. I already deleted all the links, even to sites that are relevant to the article.

    So I have to say that I am quite scared :) I was a big fan of Google, I also bought a book about their beginnings but today I am just starting to hate this company. They don’t want us to sell the links, nor banners, nothing, they just want to have Adsense on our sites, so they can profit from our sites.

  • John Cressman

    The fact is… Google is in it for the money… nothing more. If we start to think of them as some magnanimous organization, then we deceive ourselves.

    Google is making these changes so that webmasters can’t rank themselves – or are too afraid to rank themselves. They want webmasters to rely on THEIR advertising.

    They don’t want anyone figuring out their system and “gaming” the system, without using their advertising and effectively PAYING to “game” the system.

  • http://dansullivaninsurance.com/ Dan Sullivan

    The history of commerce on our planet is always one of artisans and trades people being taken over by the mega giants, just look at farming, retail and online business like Amazon. This is just the same pattern, the small guys, who can’t keep up with the super complexities being introduced are being forced out (down the page) in other words.

    • jon

      The solution is to stop using the giants when you can.

      Use amazon / ebay to find what you want and then buy locally.

      I hardly ever buy through ebay – I use them and then contact the seller direct, there are usually enough clues in the name to feed to Google to by pass ebay.

      I do my research on Amazon but then send my booklist to a domestic company who dont do the tax dodging that Amazon indulge in – if I spend in my country I want the corporate tax paid in my country!!!

      There are alternatives and once you learn to bypass the giants and get good at it, find your alternative suppliers its not much more work and sometimes you surprise yourself and get a better price.

      I dont drink coke either – they decimated the drink makers I grew up with as a kid with brutal tactics – its not about competition but global domination.

  • http://www.daniel-bauer.com Daniel

    Of course google wants people to be afraid to link. Google wants to be the only access point to the internet. What they consider important should be found (but exclusively via google), what they consider unimportant should not exist in their perverted clean commercial world. While google results get more and more unusable because they think they know better what I am looking for than myself and therefor give me results that maybe please them very much but don’t serve me at all, it’s much more useful and faster to follow the links of similar pages. Google heads must have nightmares with somebody who finds a website without passing thru their control. So they work a lot on make people thinking that links are bad.
    Links are good. They are bad for google. That makes them even better.

  • http://www.houseoflingerie.com Fredrick

    For me Google has made those involved in black-hat methods of building links afraid. The others who build natural links shouldn’t be afraid or concerned.

  • paul

    It is a web hence everything links, google are wrong, just like they are telling us to nofollow paid links and state they are paid, any search you do is full of google paid links, i guess that is there intention only they can earn on the web i mean the broken web

  • http://www.pjprins.com/ peter – freelance writer

    I actually did a post on this a few days ago – I wonder where will it end?

    What’s the next step from Google to “stop spam”…?

    A few years ago, I went overboard with promotion – and got a domain blacklisted.

    After that, I tried to jump through hoops to “do as the 900lbs gorilla says” – but to no avail. I was always lagging behind the guys who refused to play by the rules…


    Cause google was – back then – not able to enforce its own rules.

    So I simply stopped relying on google for traffic. I started taking the time I used to spend on loads of content and backlinks – and spend it on social networking…

    In terms of effort vs reward, it works better for me.

    As Luana S stated – ” Google doesn’t own the Web”.

    They might think they do, but they don’t. Give it some time…

    I write for my visitors – and what they may expect from the piece of info I offer. Google is not on my list any more…

    And my traffic is better than before.

    just my 0.02c

  • http://None Danny L1

    It’s just going to force people onto Blackhat methods. I think the entire seo community is sick of the goal posts moving all the time. Why bother wasting time and money building quality sites rich with content but to afraid to link to or from it?

    You might as well just build churn and burn sites, spam them to death and move onto the next one, at least you know where you stand. When it falls just move onto the next.

    I think Google has overdone it this time with their constant policy updates. They are trying to hard to rid their index of spam but I think it will come full circle and it won’t be long before anyone wanting to rank will simply be using black hat methods and Google will be full of spam again.

  • http://urubin.com kraven

    I can’t help but smile at all the yadayada on linkbuilding. You do all of course realize that Google only has as much power as we allow it by relying on it?

    This day and age there are traffic sources, like social media sites that can bring in just as much traffic if not more without all the hassle.

    I link to whatever I want to and don’t give a damn who links to my stuff. If Google wants to penalize or even blacklist my sites because of it so be it. For the last 2 years I no longer rely on their traffic anyway and my sites are doing better then ever.

    For me Google traffic is extra, no more, no less.

  • http://www.lumbacurve.co.uk David Pegg

    My keyword rankings have plummeted alomg with visitors. No faith in links to the point where I will nofollow all my outbounds which sort of defeats the object of linkd.
    Guess is taking us down the path of paying for traffic through adwords adsense etc

  • Bob Rodriguez

    When Google announced their Q2 earnings analysts were expecting an increase in advertising revenue. I’ve been trading in the stock market for decades (retired Merrill Lynch capital markets). My forecast was that revenue from PPC would decrease (and it did). I predict a further decrease in Q3.

    Many blame the economy. If this were the case Yelp would not have beat revenue as it did (up 69%). Trip advisor, and other e-commerce sites are also experiencing similar growth.

    Google has slowly over the years (especially over the last year plus) tried to dictate everything from links to the way that customers advertise. They have also manipulated their algorithms in a way that attempts to compel people to advertise if sites want to regain their top tier positions (I can personally attest to this). The sites that now dominate the top spots are those ladened with everything under the sun (like trip advisor, yelp, etc.). Now customers are paying to be on these sites if they want to show up at all; and these sites instead of Google are reaping the monetization benefits.

    I still enjoy the top spot generically under my landing pages search term on Yahoo and Bing (because I have the most accurate information and I live in the location where the information is relevant, so I am most current). I would not be surprised if Google now puts PageRank weight on those sites who advertise with PPC.

    When I used to use PPC I would bid upwards of 3.50 per click for certain key words. The large sites that now dominate PPC are paying a fraction of this for the same key words. And since the large sites using PPC the most (trip advisor, bookit.com) they are “price fixing” the bids to be much cheaper. Also the conversion rates are no longer worth competing because the customer is now overwhelmed with choices (much of it “filler). It is a long story but I’ve already tested this theory.

    Across the board Google has gotten so big that they have finally overstepped their bounds in my opinion. Although Yahoo has had a modest increase in search and Google a smaller increase/decrease. It will not take much to tip the scales. If Google continues to flex its muscles the way that they have been; they are going to price themselves out of the market and marginalize their search. Just like the NSA, people are also starting to get tired of their collection of search data (hence the rise in sites like DuckDuckGo).

    Link rules are just ONE example of how Google is trying to dictate everything under the stars.

    I am certain that many will not agree with this post. They are so diehard that they believe Google is bulletproof. But many said the same about AOL at one time. But then again, over the decades I’ve beat the market hands down; and it isn’t because I agree with the masses.

    Good luck in the future if you keep going this way Google. Time has a way of correcting all material defects.

    • Kelly

      This is true regarding PPC and organic page ranking. After following closely my website page ranking for certain keywords over a 2 month period, I noticed my organic page ranking for a particular keyword move up the page 20 or more spots when I am also using PPC for the same keyword. In other words Google will rank your organic page listing higher if at the same time you are paying for that page’s main keyword. To prove this, I stopped using PPC for that keyword and the result was the organic page ranking dropped back down to normal. Don’t believe it, try it yourself.

      • https://www.tipsinablog.com Danny

        Hi, Kelly.

        Page rank (PR) is not the same as search engine rankings(SERPS).

        PR(Page rank) goes from 0 to 10

        I used to get those two terminologies mixed up, too.

        Sorry for sounding a bit “picky”.

        As far as your(SERPS) rankings dropping after dropping the PPC campaign, that sounds about right.

        That’s why many companies and individuals run continuous ad(PPC) campaigns to keep hold of their ranking improvements(profits made) and will often talk about the huge amounts of money they have poured into advertising.

        Also, there are many people who run quite expensive PPC campaigns, though, have not seen any acceptable benefits, whatsoever.

        Kelly, you are right with your observations regarding PPC, and it does seem that there’s a huge push to get as many people as possible onto a “pay to rank” merry-go-round.

        Google is pushing to create the very system they said they were diametrically apposed to!

  • Frann leach

    I had several sites in the gardening/health sector that were ranking pretty well after lots of hard work. Then google changed everything and there didn’t seem to be a legal way to do seo any more. I’ve given up.

    • http://research-on-obesity.com Leonard

      I can relate to this. I built a site for my wife back in 2008 and it was growing pretty well because it is about one of the worlds most serious health issues. Her group of friends and income from ads has steadily droped since all of the changes.

      My concern is, what happens when the big G decides to go the other way and webmasters have spent hours, weeks and even months making changes to meet todays algos?

  • http://dcfxbroker.com/ Stephan

    I have noticed though that sometimes it helps a lot to rank higher when you change the links pointing out from your site. It always depends on the rate of changes and to where they point to.

  • Bob Rodriguez

    After posting on this topic I did a search on Google “is search getting worse on google”. I found a ton of topics. But this one I think is rather telling.


  • Tony

    Yes absolutely you cannot link to anyone anymore as all it takes is one bad link to get both you and the site you’re linking to a Google Penalty/Ban. Plus threats of legal action from the people you link to, how ridiculous is this, Google has created a cirus. At the end of the day the only linking practice available is the “nofollow”. Personally I think this is a mastermind strategy on Google’s part. Make people afraid to link, no links equals no traffic. Now the only safe advertising route for webmasters is to buy traffic in from Google Adwords. Google has successfully monopolized the world wide web, not just in the USA but worldwide. Let’s be honest Google is so sophisticated that there really is no need to penalize the average whitehat webmaster, they just can discount links without penalization – this is how they used to operate. The penalization part is new and only benefits Google, scare everyone into doing nothing with website promotion and force them to spend in Adwords. Think it’s time we the webmaster gave Google the Google slap (a bit of their own medicine) and not spend any money in Adwords, after all Google accepts money for advertising but everyone else cannot. Time for the sheep to wakeup. Google only has the power for as long as we allow it! Don’t spend your hard money in Google. Simple, bring them to their knees and all these stupid, silly, little rules will go away.

  • Tony

    Let’s do a quick vote. Those that don’t like Google’s linking rules give a thumbs down. Those that like Google’s link rules give a thumbs up.

  • paul

    just get rid of PR simple who cares oh and USE BING or YAHOO or anything but GOOGLE, they will soon get the message, fed up with all there adwords filling my search results,

  • http://www.webdesignjustforyou.com Eileen Forte

    I personally think that Google uses whatever means it can to alternately drop different website listings in page rank for one reason or another at different times to drive website owners to pay them for advertising or other paid for marketing plans that google offers.

    This combined with Google’s collection of info and sharing of that info with the government has caused me to use google less and less, i.e., I no longer use Google Chrome.

    Also, does any large internet company own Web Pro News?

    I’d be interested in knowing.

  • Kelly

    Google is playing God when it comes to businesses that rely on the Internet to make a living. Personally makes me sick. I have never linked using “blackhat” methods and have never been penalized by Google. Having said that, my site fluctuates in the rankings like a heart monitor on a daily basis. Makes no sense while crap websites continue to rank on the first pages. Many companies have gone out of business because of Google’s Ego Maniac methods of picking winners and losers. It’s all about pushing businesses into their Adwords advertising program nothing more.

  • jon

    Its simple really – there have been few if any periods in history when power concentrated in one place is in everybodies long term interest.

    Google is too powerful, it doesnt really matter if you agree with this bit or that bit it is simply dangerous to have so much of the worlds economy depending on this one entity.

    There is only one solution – a viable alternative to Google or direct intervention by governments.

    Is it realistic that we the people will start to use alternative search engines not because they are better but because we are fed up with Google’s monopoly – thats what it boils down to. Just ask the average Amercian teenager if he/she will stop using Google and use an inferior search engine for the long term benefit of all?

    In the meantime why not do as I do – stop clicking on adwords and copy paste the URL or simply feed back the text into Google and arrive at the client website without Google getting credit for the click – that way for the time being you benefit from Google but you dont help them get even more revenue – use their products but make sure you or someone else is not paying!!

  • John B

    The only companies google wants to be found in organic search are the gas giants. These companies neither need nor deserve to be found under keyword searches. The big lies are ‘brand’ and ‘search quality’, which are euphemisms for ‘most profitable to google’.

    When a site is built about a particular subject with unique quality specific to that topic AND it never gets found based upon its actual merits… then the system is either broken or there is a lie afoot.

  • Scott Hammond

    I work a lot with blogger outreach campaigns (this is mainly to gain visibility, but the links that come with it don’t hurt either) and what I’m seeing is this. Google is killing small bloggers who post legit content, and making it far easier for black hat spammer and scraper sites to dominate search. The individual blogger who is writing legit original content is at a huge disadvantage when compared to a black hat pro when it comes to learning how to manipulate the new rules, so the manipulator ends up winning that fight every time.

  • http://www.mindconnection.com Mark

    I talk to a lot of Webmasters. All of us have had severe financial distress thanks to what Google has done.

    Do the math on linking. You can risk going for many months with a mysterious Google penalty and NO HELP FROM GOOGLE just because you innocently linked to a site that has changed since you made that link–and for what? You didn’t sell that link, so no revenue. There’s no ROI. But you risk a huge financial loss by linking. The only smart thing to do is not link at all.

    But why would Google create such a situation? Apparently, the whole linking thing is just a cover for Google’s real game. It seems that the Matt Cutts gang destroys small businesses just for entertainment. Maybe this is not their intention and maybe they don’t find it entertaining. But given Google’s use of sledgehammer techniques where a jeweler’s screwdriver is needed and their callous attitude toward collaterally damaged small businesses, what other possible explanation can there be?

    It cannot be out of a desire to improve Google SERPs. Google organic results are worse than ever now, plus Google egregiously violates its own Webmaster guidelines in the spammy, cluttered, poor user experience design of its own pages.

    After you’ve been hit with a year-long revenue drop of 95% until you figured out that, hey, you can sell on the marketplaces and to heck with Google, why would you bother linking to anyone? Why risk what little dribble of revenue you get from Google results?

    Until we all make Google irrelevant to our business models (yet another “only smart thing to do”), we can sweat the danger of a given link or simply refuse to link to anyone. Alternatively, Google can drop its “do more evil” attitude and fix what it has gone so terribly wrong. But don’t hold your breath for that.

    In the case of the sites I manage, I am seeing a huge shrinkage of incoming links. Not because those sites are bad, but because desperate site owners are doing whatever they can to survive. And that means no outbound links, thanks to the incompetence and indifference Google has shown with Penguin.

    What about the user experience with Google? I switched to Bing, simply because I found Google increasingly useless. I really don’t know why anyone uses Google for a search engine. I suppose there are still people who drive a Pinto, too.

    • http://www.edsfreeware.com/splat-me-2.html Grey Olltwit

      Sadly the vast majority of end users i.e. Joe Public believe that to search for something on the Internet is to ‘Google it’. They don’t realise that other methods of searching the web exist. I have suggested Bing to so many people as a much better alternative and they all replied with “What’s Bing?”. Microsoft needs to put a lot more cash into it’s brand awareness if we are to get a fairer net with more search engine competition rather than the one man band big G has created

  • John

    Never be afraid to link, you have the right to link and get links from who you want to. I don’t follow any of that garbage and I am fine, It hasn’t hurt me a bit and not only that, I get huge amounts of traffic from putting my link all over the place. You can be a slave if you want to but I believe in freedom.

  • http://www.smarterchanges.com Gerri Jensen

    Yes, google’s policies are making it impossible to function on the web as a small business. The guest post nofollow links and text link ad policies are unfair and violate basic USA fair business practices and are anti-competitive. Are the only links allowed the ones that Google wants like Google advertisers?

    Join with me in complaining to the FTC ( Federal Trade Commission) wether intended or not Google’s policies are violating fair business practices and Google doesn’t listen or communicate with webmasters and small business owners in any meaningful way to solve these and other issues. If enough of us complain we will have power to negotiate our side of the issue.

    You can file a complaint here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

  • http://www.azbuilders.co.uk Donatas

    Sad to read all these comments – but really it’s all true. The only reason I see Google changing their policies is to cause all the hassle and havoc, so that website owners would spend their money on Adwords. You can do whatever you like in SEO, Google will eventually change something and your website drops out of SERPS and all your efforts are reduced to zero. I still have hope that Google will return to the main goal – provide users with relevant search results.

  • Joe Isuzu

    Personally, Im sick of Matt Cunts and his phony crusade.

    • http://moonlightshining.com Rudi Palmera

      Me too…
      reminds me of them, in a movie…
      “Dumb and Dumber”, LOL…

  • http://www.actions4photographers.com Class photo templates

    Google says add fresh content all the time…. do it for readers they say not Google and maybe we will rank your site near the top. But…. if you sell products, just products what do you do, rewrite your descriptions over and over not really making the description any clearer or better just doing it so Google will see fresh content? This does not make sense and really isn’t for the readers at all its just so Google will not take away MORE traffic. They are making site owners jump through hoops for no reason and eventually Google will change their minds and say everything were doing now is wrong and we are just trying to advertise our business and now… you will get you penalized. What is and entrepreneur suppose to do? Why Google Why?

  • http://gastricbandfrance.co.uk Geoff Plastic-Surgeon

    I have started to be VERY careful where I link as a result of the google updates. Reason :- Because Google in their wisdom totally obliterated a couple of my legitimate sites (along with the income) with the Panda update. I increasingly also find myself favouring BING search results whenever I need information cos I am fed up of google shifting stuff around and supplying rubbish results that are clearly aimed at generating income for google.

    Geoff the Bariatric Surgeon

  • http://coralatlas.com coralatlas

    Google is making spaghetti and over cooking it purposely ….
    the more you over cook spaghetti the mushier it gets until you have one indecipherable inseparable bowl of mush …. !

    It’s kind of like a computer programmer making mush of code …. it’s called job security …
    in the case of Google it’s capitalism at it’s finest …. focus on profit above product … a form of built in obsolesce in an inverted sort of manner ……

  • TheMadMan

    Funny (strange) thing this!!!
    Google became the “most trusted” search engine by using incoming links as one of the primary considerations when ranking a specific page.
    Now the very thing that they built their empire on is being used to lower the ranking of a specific pages.
    Wonder whats going on???
    Do they know whats going on???
    Seems like every day they are getting further and further away from the point at which they started – especially “Don’t Be Evil”

  • Angel

    So true – is safer to ensure all links are no follow than risk google not liking a link.

    Afterall it would seem that google are penalising legitimate quality web sites because of bad inbound links, so who knows if it is now safe to have a link to or from that “penalised” quality web site from or to your own site because google now consider that quality web site as being “bad”.

    Webmasters with more than one web site are scared to link their own sites together without a nofollow even if the web sites are related.

    Personally I think it is bad that Google have such a monopoly in the search engine market that any changes they make to their algorithms can send businesses bankrupt overnight when those businesses haven’t actually done anything wrong.

  • Peter

    Google is indeed discouraging linking, their whole aim along with the other major search engines is to dominate the linking market. Lets face it, they are a great big link engine. What the problem is, a lot people give them too much credit for the information on the internet.

  • http://www.dolphinworld.org Dolphin Swim Man

    I have an adventure travel website since 1997 and I have built thousands of back links since then. I got hit hard by Penguin and wasn’t sure what to do. My thoughts last year was to build the business without google and to focused on blogs, Social Media and buying links from good travel directories. So far, my business is still in the game, even though most of my pages are not showing up on google anymore. However, I am still on the fence whether to focus my energy on all the back links I have accrued over the years and trying to remove the low value ones for my website survival. My gut says, keep them and move forward the way I am going.

  • https://www.tipsinablog.com Danny

    Some fantastic comments have been put forth on this post topic.

    Without any doubt it does seem that Google has ‘thrown out the baby with the bath water” in recent times, as far as their Algorithm updates and refreshes are concerned.

    There has been a huge shift in the search results, with the “Mega corp” gargantuan sites getting front row billing in the search results.

    Many of remaining available top pages positions are filled with worthless(so called related or stat sites) sites that are simple set up to “grab your search terms” yet, actually provide no related or relevant content, to the search term used.

    There are a few other particular site types(very dodgy and using dubious methods) that are getting a free ride, and I was quite surprised to see so many of these site literally dominating certain niches and search terms, and filling the majority of ranking spots from page one, back to around page ten.

  • http://www.astro-holidays.com Paul Davis

    I have had 2 people with desperate pleas to remove links to their web sites. As if it was my fault,they asked for the links originally! Of course I complied, but I fail to see the panic.

    Years ago in my corporate days if I wanted to stop a fiddle getting rampant on expenses (especially petrol) I would memo all heads of departments for their expenses figures to be entered differently to comply with a new computer programme to catch fiddles. The smart money carried on as before, the rest ensured the next few expense claim forms were 100% accurate. The people whose expense trends suddenly went down were the corporate thieves.

    So too I suspect Google has thrown a curved ball to stop people spamming the search bots and attempting to gain spurious link juice, it uses up their own resources following up all these red herring and non associated links. Time is money.

  • eggsonthesmile

    I never blush when I let fly a fart. I am a growling onion and very stealthy! Cunning is key and attention to the right moment to let it go. All strategy.

  • http://www.thenewageblog.com/ Newager

    There was a time when small niche blogs could rank highly on Google and bring in considerable traffic. Now its a waste of time and that is playing it by the rules with no manual penalties. I still link but to play safe they are all no follow, I no longer exchange links with other sites or have a resource page. Therefore the concept of sending users on to other relevant sites has been killed off, presumable this now mainly happens through PPC.

    The danger with any regulation is that it hits anything legitimate the hardest while the offenders carry on doing it. The results are that spam still turns up on the first page but its big business spam while legitimate smaller sites are excluded.

    While we hear about manual penalties is the same effort being put into manual upgrading for being unfairly penalized.

    Fortunately my blog still ranks well on Yahoo and Bing who also have anti spam measures in place and the search results are more relevant. I also get more direct traffic through links and social media.

    Optimizing for Google is a waste of time, clearly the way forward is to stop worrying about Google and concentrate on the possibilities over which we can still have some influence in order to pull in traffic.

    With falling revenues from Adsense and a 2.5 to 3.5 second increase in site speed for placing a 300 x 250 ad its time to consider pulling the plug and look for more speed friendly sources of advertising as my site is likely to incur a speed penalty from Google, drop further down the rankings and kill off mobile traffic.

    People can only sustain fear for so long then they become desensitized and just don’t care anymore.

    • http://thesilverpeoplechronicle.com Lydia

      I got to that point years ago when I saw how Google’s “control gone wild” high handed policies was discouraging people with great content sites from remaining viable on the Internet. I ask myself if most of us reached this point and just stopped posting Google ads- take em all off- what impact it would have on G’s grand new policies?

    • derek

      I can only talk about my niche but i think the result is fairly typical across the board. Pre panda/penguin there were about 20-30 of the “leading sites” in the niche which received about 95% of the Google traffic, the remainder very little. Which was fair enough, because these were the sites putting in most of the investment. And so they deservedly received the benefit of that.

      Post panda, the situation is entirely turned upside down. About 95% of traffic is now going to youtube videos, aggregator, and content farm type sites. The remaining 5% is split across multiple thousands of smaller sites in the niche of dubious quality. Notably extremely low quality blogger/web2 pages, scraped/spun content and so on. Of the small business in my niche, i see no winners – despite Matt Cutts pedaling the usual nonsense about “winners and losers” and it’s not their fault. Those who’ve done the best in my niche have lost around 50-75% of their traffic over the last 2 years. Investment in time/effort in online businesses no longer yields probable returns. This has dire consequences of the internet’s future, and ironically Google too.

      Google should stop trying to retrofit the world into it’s view of how it wants things to be. Their algorithm is long past its sell by date. It was created when the internet was used mostly by academics, who cited each other’s work. In those days, links made a lot of sense. Sure they’ve added thousands of tweaks and fiddles over the years. But frankly, all that has done has turned it into an over-engineered mess.

      It just isn’t beneficial for business to link to their competitors, however much Google lets us think it is. Its like asking a supermarket to put a big sign in their shop recommending and pointing to their competitor down the road. It’s ridiculous. The sooner Google learns the world has changed and come up with an alternative that embraces commercialization of the web the better.

  • Not my name

    From all the recent updates by Google on linking and constant moving of the goalposts I firmly believe that they have decided that they can’t win against the black hat spammers.

    Case in point – the UK results for payday loans – Matt Cutts was bombarded with tweets regarding, another spam site, look at this one, how about that one. Normally within the hour they were gone.

    No we have the announcement that Google has ‘only’ manually removed 2% of sites from the index, that is huge.

    When the internet first started, the only search engines where manually edited, then came along google and used links/votes to rank sites with great content – whether that be written text, images, infographics or whatever.

    Now everyone will use the no-follow tag, even creating great content will not pass any benefits of people who want to recommend your creation, so really what is the point? No one will find it if everyone is scared of linking.

    Within a few years I reckon google will be one giant directory, probably asking sites to pay for entry and to be manually reviewed.

  • http://www.usa-hero.com/ Don Jones

    Google has in my opinion taken power away from the web master who wants to link to a site but feels that he will be punished on search results if he links to a site not considered worthy by Google. Over the past few months I have stopped adding links even when I believe the site I want to link to would be of interest to my site viewers. I have had numerous requests to exchange links but I don’t accept any for fear of Google’s algorithm doing a number on me.

    • http://www.n0t.info Luana S.

      Don Jones,

      Is Google really important to you? Or is it just another search engine?

      If it’s just another S.E., then you do what you want. Exchanging links with people and websites you have a relationship with is a social action, not a S.E. manipulation action, even though G. might say differently.

      [Honestly, I’m starting to grow tired with Google’s politics on how a person should run a website. I have worked as a freelance SEO for some time, trying to do things as honestly as possible, but perhaps it’s time to invent my own thing and refuse any kind of paranoid guidelines.] :)

      ~ Luana

  • http://www.juliephineas.com Julie Phineas

    OMG, I am about to coin a phrase in this comment!!!

    Having been an organic linker this whole time, I am NOT afraid to link because not only are my links “organic” but they are also “authentic”

    AUTHENTIC LINKING is the way I see the tide turning.

    Think about it… even if everyone stopped linking to each other to avoid Google penalties, we are still going to have the masses sharing links via social media, email, IM, etc. Word of mouth always prevails and with the masses spreading important and AUTHENTIC information with each other this is where the wave will go.

    When I write my content I write it from my heart! I use words that come from my personal experiences, and so this is what has always made my content organic – but to pull your content from your heart takes it just a tiny step further and makes the words you use when you write a little different. There is more social “resonance” – not just “relevance” when you write this way.

    Content that resonates with people is shared more often, and these social factors are something that Google and other search engines are trying to incorporate as they make all these changes. BUT the bottom line is that they are trying to isolate behaviors by HUMANS and so if we can bring the human factor to our content then links will become much more authentic.


  • http://www.seo-freelance.co.uk Drew

    I don’t think I blame Google for this. Years of over enthusiastic SEO with little regard for appropriate links has given Google a big mess to sort out!

  • http://www.gorillasafarisrwanda.com Nyagah

    Google penalties massively affected my travel business. I have decided to do it part time or close it down completely. Actually I no longer care about that business at all. If I get a customer well and good, If I don’t no problem. I am now concentrating on agriculture as I do not need Google to sell food.

  • Ralphie

    Its pretty simple Google has gone out of its flipping mind, it is clear they are losing against the black hatters and are now squeezing the real webmasters.

    Hell after their mention last week of Press Releases now the press release companies have bent over and allowed Google to do it to them.

    Why would one online business (press releases) allow another online business (Google) to dictate how you do business and in return risk the value of your own business? The fact that they are no following the links now WILL reduce their value and therefore the business they get.

    That is a fact. All to appease Google, lets see how the owners and investors feel in about 6-12 months.

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com Steve B

    Google has to make its investors happy. So, it’s no longer about the user, it’s more about making money.

  • http://ducktoes.com/webdesign Cathie

    Yes, people are afraid to link out or in. I think Google will have to go down a different route eventually because links are the currency of the web and if people stop using the currency,the web, instead of being a interlinked “web” of sites, will become a bunch of disconnected islands that are searchable only by ad words, then it will lose all its value and quality content.

    And the rules seem vague and confusing, are press releases services okay or not, even if they have a really high Google ranking? What about high-ranking paid directories? What about one’s own portfolio of web design clients? Should you link to the sites you have created? Will that hurt your ranking? What about the other way? Is it okay to link from your client to yourself? If you link from your client’s site which you have designed and authored to your own, to give yourself credit and possibly more clients, will that site being new and low-ranking make your own ranking go down?

  • http://www.no1webhosting.co.za Chris Hattingh

    My website has been suspended from Google Addwords for apparently linking to a parked domain. I am not aware of any such links so I removed all links from my website (Which took me ages to create). Since I am struggling to get my site re-considered. The link where I need to submit this request to Google doesn’t submit, it just hang and hang. As such I am banned from Google Addwords and can not use this account anymore. Google has no feelings about this but just keep on penalising innocent people. I am positive that I haven’t linked to any parked domain on purpose that doesn’t meet their requirements. This is going to create a lot of confusion about what to do. What do you advice?

  • http://www.ablebk.com Karen

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely! Things will not change until the general public realizes the change in results quality and traffic decreases or people stop spending money with google. I believe Pavlov did a study similar to this a few years ago.

  • John

    Two Penguin updates ago, Google destroyed my business. I lost everything. I had gradually built my service over 8 years of hard work. Then overnight my website and the customers it provided were gone. I had grown too dependent on her search engine traffic. It was a tragedy I’m sure Google has perpetrated upon many Americans. As with all things Jewish (the Federal Reserve, the media, Israeli-controlled US Congress, bankster-financed military, the Holohoax, 9/11, Communism, Zionism, etc.), the answer why this fate has befallen our country can be found in the Protocols and the Talmud. Like wars waged against other countries, Google profits from the destruction of independent American businesses. Google is a parasite. The fix? Adopt a marketing strategy independent of this monster.

  • http://www.PrimeSiteUK.com Sarah

    People, for far too long, have placed too much faith in Google and are now being bitten BIG TIME by the ‘Don’t Be Evil’ machine. We’re all guilty, we allowed this monster to dictate how we utilise the internet. Google this, Google that, Gmail, Adsense etc etc

    Now they are tightening the noose via Panda and now Penquin..

    For those of you who can remember, how did you fair pre-google? Get the picture?

    Let’s stop and think this through a moment; Is Google THE only SE?

    Why do we place such store in one online source? The last time I checked (yesterday 28/08/2013) Yahoo were in fact the market leaders in both shares AND traffic. Let’s not forget that the head of Yahoo is/was an ex-ceo of Google and yes, its payback time 😉

    According to comScore, a market research firm, Yahoo had 196,564,000 unique visitors during the month of July 20127, beating out Google’s 192,251,000.

    The problem with Google is simple; they’ve got too big for their boots and are yet again, trying to domineer the market place, scaring site owners, but not the big brands you notice.

    But it strikes me that Google is in fact playing to the big names/brands in terms of trying to get rid of the smaller and more competitive sites. The cost to these companies having to make all these changes must be huge in terms of time and money as most have their sites maintained externally.

    People are talking of using the ‘dissallow’ and ‘nofollow’ function tags – why?

    Google have been sending out notices to site owners saying their websites contain ‘unnatural’ links which also include affiliate links, where in fact, upon checking, the links were perfectly in order?

    Why is that? Well it’s because Google is simply being economical with the truth (can’t say liars) in terms of verifying the facts BEFORE they send of these notices. As a result, site owners are frightened to complain as most times Google never respond, in fear of being ‘dropped’.

    Site owners are simply being bullied by this ‘Evil’ machine who, lets remember, originally built its success on the backs of ALL sites since its first inception in 1998.

    My view is this, if Google want to flex their corporate muscle by essentially blackmailing website owners to do their bidding or else, can only leave one response, tell Google to go to hell, afterall there are two other SE’s world leaders, one of who is officially bigger than Google.

    As a small fish, we’re nothing special, simple links directory and like many, have much more to learn and are appreciated by our visitors, but as far as we are concerned Google can get lost for all we care.

    There are more than one SE on this planet and we have always relied on and supported Yahoo for its fairness and results, not to mention the other 300+ SE out there, least of all Bing – Our eggs are spread far and wide, it’s called diversification. If you have placed all of yours in one basket i.e. Google, then you have only yourself to blame.

    If we were banned by Google tommorow it would not bother us a jot; afterall there’s more than one SE right?

    Vote with your mouse, disallow Google in your robots.txt and watch how soon Google remember their humble beginings.

    Just our pennies worth…

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  • JT

    I also am afraid to link and am going through my 1000+ pages and manually nofollow-ing all links I think are not in my niche. This is SO time consuming and Google has dropped my search traffic by over 95% over the past year. I also use BING now in protest and I fully support an a revolt against GOOGLE as an unfair Monopoly on the Internet.

    I personally know 2 small mom and pop businesses that made a living from their website through the creation of e-books and training material that did very well pre panda and penguin. These sites barely ever linked out, but still they did well. Then the google algorithms rolled through and these businesses have gone under. It’s a shame.

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