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Google Has Made People Afraid To Link

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Google Has Made People Afraid To Link
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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

Google Has Made People Afraid To Link
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  • 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.

    Thoughts??

  • 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.

  • http://www.manilaeventsexclusive.com Organizer

    The solutions start using yahoo and bing

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