Google Has Reputable Sites Afraid To Link Naturally

By: Chris Crum - April 2, 2014

And the freaking out continues….

As mentioned in a previous post, Google has reignited the link removal hysteria by going after guest blog posts. People who have written guests posts on other sites over the years are now rushing to have their links removed just in case Google doesn’t like them, and decides to penalize their sites. Who can blame them when Google is in fact penalizing sites for guest posts?

Have you tried to have any links removed since Google started cracking down on guest blogging? Would you seek to remove all guest post links if Google were to give you an unnatural link warning? Let us know in the comments.

This may have been a perfectly acceptable practice for years on the Internet, but Google has now decided that it doesn’t like it much, and is making people pay.

Of course the message has been that guest blogging for SEO is bad, but high quality guest posts for editorial purposes are just fine. The problem is you’re leaving it up to Google’s judgment, and that might not be the same as yours. Because of this, people are also wondering if they need to put nofollows on all guest blog links.

The thing about this is that some might argue that high quality guest posts should be counted as a signal of quality in a person’s favor, and by extension in their site’s favor through a link. That can provide encouragement for some to write these posts. But Google is probably looking at that as a “link scheme,” even if it seems perfectly legit to everybody else.

Econsultancy, a respected digital marketing and ecommerce resource site, announced (via Search Engine Roundtable) that it is “taking a safety first apporach. That means adding nofollow links in the bios of guest bloggers”.

They proceed to list a bunch of “facts” about their editorial process. Essentially, it all boils down to this: They only accept high quality posts, and have strict guidelines. They do everything the way it’s supposed to be done, and assume editorial control over it all – even the signatures. But they do allow links in the signatures, and for that reason, they’re afraid that Google might find some reason to penalize them.

Econsultancy’s Chris Lake writes, “Google is worried about links in signatures. I guess that can be gamed, on less scrupulous blogs. It’s just that our editorial bar is very high, and all outbound links have to be there on merit, and justified. From a user experience perspective, links in signatures are entirely justifiable. I frequently check out writers in more detail, and wind up following people on the various social networks. But should these links pass on any linkjuice? It seems not, if you want to play it safe (and we do).”

From a user experience perspective. User experience. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, it’s Google from the past decade saying over and over again that they want to give people what’s best for users.

It SEEMS that these links shouldn’t pass on any linkjuice, he says. It seems so because of Google’s recent crackdown, but I ask again, why not? If the content is legit, and editorially controlled, why not? Why shouldn’t somebody get credit towards their authority on a topic (something Google is particularly interested in nowadays) if their work was editorially selected to appear on a respected site like Econsultancy?

Lake asks, “Can’t Google discount these links at an algorithmic level?” He’s talking about author bio links, but on a broader level, many have been asking a similar question for years: instead of penalizing sites, why doesn’t Google just not count the bad links?

“I’d like to think that if Google’s webspam team was to look at Econsultancy’s content, our guest bloggers, and the way we standardise the signatures, that we’d have no problem. But I can’t bank on that,” Lake writes.

Yep, this is what it has come to. Reputable sites with high standards for content have to fear Google because of some change they decided to make. Will it ever end?

Should editorially responsible blogs accepting guest posts worry about linking to authors’ sites naturally in author bios? Is this really a threat to search quality? Tell us what you think.

Image via Econsultancy

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • Ashok Sharma

    Yes, I have answer to the big question “Will it ever end?”. Never because Internet is always changing / developing / expanding and whatever in all known and unknown dimensions and that is life. You can’t stop living…
    There is simple explanation that you also know “survival for fittest”. Thanks for the bold subject which need good amount of discussion.

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      “the big question “Will it ever end?””

      Corporations have to have continued growth. Our ridiculous system is built this way.

      Google has only one way to increase revenue through search, and that’s through ads. Google will have no choice but to work to push more webmasters into advertising. It will do this by increasingly making advertising the only solution companies have.

      People are so naive when it comes to corporations. The people within corps might not be “evil” but the corporation itself is, simply because it has to keep growing and expanding at all cost. This inevitably leads to massive corruption, unethical acts, abuse of customers and service users…

      • Searchen

        Sad but true, well said

      • Ashok Sharma

        Long back when Google started the unlimited phenomena around 2000, People like me wondered when will it end? How can a company bear the infrastructure expansion over time. Recently the answer has started rolling out, The platform built over last 15 years is now on way to yield the returns. Prices for email and video viewing has started showing in some mode / claiming enhanced services over free. The model for businesses other than global entities is clear, fix your datum in all dimensions managing the resources and whatever income in the designed period. All things are like farming, you have to choose your crop.
        In my personal opinion chasing the boom is short term strategy.

  • Jonny

    i think google search is total joke now. You need to be very lucky to find something useful in that “search engine”.

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      You mean you don’t find all the corporate “sponsors” useful, or their own YouTube videos about something barely related to the thing you searched for? lol

      Likewise, this is why I switched to Bing about a year ago.

      • bill

        you are right their irrelevancy has become overwhelming, their algo is a joke.

    • http://www.consultancymarketing.co.uk/ Ian Smith

      Totally agree Jonny.
      SERPS is now vastly inferior in Google – tending to deliver multiple pages from large corporates rather than pages from niche suppliers.

      Quite depressing what Google has done.

  • Jonny

    “Oh yeah, it’s Google from the past decade saying over and over again that they want to give people what’s best for users.”
    Totally untrue. Google want people not have any choice, but only to click on adwords ads.

    • http://www.consultancymarketing.co.uk/ Ian Smith

      I agree again.
      Lies and deceit for all those years.

  • Justme

    Google likes control and likes being able to make everyone jump. They control the world with their search because they get to decide what people see and what they don’t.

  • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

    It comes down to this – Google doesn’t want anyone carrying link juice over to their sites, because denying this allows them complete arbitrary control over the rankings without the meddling of a pesky algorithm pushing their pages and their corporate buddies further down.

    It’s the reversal of the linking algorithm, removing it from circulation without actually having to announce that it’s now defunct, and causing outrage as a result. The best way to make someone do something you want them to do, something they would fight against, is by giving them the impression that they made the decision themselves.

    So, Google threatens by suggesting all followed links like this can be penalized for some fictitious reason, everyone panics and starts removing those links or adding nofollow. Google has won and removed the power of linking without having to do anything at all, and it can then abandon the natural linking algorithm without having to announce it.

    Why do this? Because Google understands that these algorithms give it less control over who ranks and where. It needs to be able to manipulate the rankings in order to force more companies into taking desperate measures, through selling advertising on their services.

    Remove or restrict all the natural methods people have for getting search traffic, and the only option left is to spend money advertising.

    This is nothing more than Google seizing more control of traffic and removing automated methods of adjusting SE position, forcing people to spend more money competing through advertising against corporations with bottomless pockets.

    All roads lead to the same thing – Google wants to make you pay for position. The real question is when will people wake up and finally realize that Google is a corporation, and an evil one too. All corporations have to have continued growth, and it inevitably leads to absolute greed.

    • Webmaster

      Here is my take on it. Google has control of who and how companies make money I say enough of Google. If everyone quits using them they will no longer control what is posted or how it is posted but as long as we jump everytime they say jump they own us. I say enough of Google and their changes. We have had several sites and Google has put us so far out of reach each time that we will never make money under their search site without paying thousands of dollars. We have moved to other sites and are now making a profit so as far as Google we don’t use them for anything. So all the emails that come out about Google is making changes again we just delete them. I say go to Yahoo and other sites for service and to heck with Google where only the rich make money not the little companies.

    • Convergence

      BINGO!

  • Mark

    This is yet another sign of why the Google search engine is so badly broken and why Bing totally smokes Google on that front. Interestingly, Microsoft has done a terrible job with operating systems while Google has done a great job with at least a mobile OS.

    So what really needs to happen is these firms should focus on their areas of competence and exit the markets in which they have proven their gross incompetence. No more operating systems from Microsoft, no more Google search engine.

    But such a common sense approach, something any business major will recognize as sound strategy, is unlikely to occur. These companies don’t value feedback and don’t act on what little they care to listen to.

    So they will continue to plod along, trying to fix what they have screwed up almost beyond belief.

    Since Google is unlikely to leave the search engine space to those who do it well and since they clearly don’t want to do well there, we should make Google irrelevant to our business models while waiting for that house of cards to fall. That is the only sane, workable solution to the Google anti-search engine mentality that has infected the Google corporation.

  • Rick

    Guess now I’ll have to Bing the authors to find out more about them. Such a pain.

  • Searchen

    It doesn’t have to end- ever. Google can change their algorithm how ever they a million more times. What does need to end is the penalty they assign by an assumption that isn’t always right and they know it. It’s too damaging to people’s business and eventually they are going to get bitten in the by it. I guarantee it.

  • ImBack?

    Listen everyone, calm down. Google will not be the puppet master
    forever. Anyone else notice that they are getting equal organic traffic
    from Bing and Yahoo? Know why? Because for the last few years Google has
    been focusing on keeping its search users on its own properties and the
    properties of its paid advertisers. As they get stricter and impose
    more of a strangle hold on their search traffic they are making
    themselves more and more irrelevant. In turn there is less “available”
    search traffic across the board for whatever niche you are in. Stay with
    me here. Ok, so let’s take the site I referenced in beginning of
    comment. Organic Google traffic accounts for less than 20% of my
    traffic. Direct traffic is at 20% (those who type in URL) and organic
    traffic from Bing and Yahoo make up about 15-20% each. The rest comes
    from social networks. I can honestly say that if my site was deindexed
    by Google it would NOT effect my bottom line more than 20% which quite
    honestly would still leave it very, very profitable and at the current
    rate of growth would be a wash within 6 months. SO, here is my point: As
    Google makes it more and more difficult to obtain what is essentially
    an increasingly limited amount of free traffic due to their greedy
    efforts, and even perfectly optimized websites can only hope to get a
    constantly dwindling slice of the free traffic pie, at a certain point
    WHAT GOOGLE SAYS WON’T MATTER. If following all their rules only nets
    you a few hundred visitors then what the hell does it matter anymore?
    Focus elsewhere, look at your other traffic sources and go hard on them,
    if you focus on Google you are just chasing your tail. Their goal is to
    make 10% or less of their traffic go to organic searches and they will
    do it, because they have all the data they need to systematically work
    toward keeping most of their search traffic on their own and advertiser
    properties. Let them make it so difficult to get such a small amount of
    natural ranking that it doesn’t matter how well you rank on Google
    anymore. Think about this, it is a very valid point and I am already
    reaping mass benefits from adopting this approach. Who cares what Matt
    Cutts has to say when you are fighting for what is quickly becoming LESS
    traffic than you can get via the smaller search engines and social
    sites.

  • http://paradevices.com/ ZapperDave

    Google is only causing its own demise by becoming irrelevant as a search engine. http://goarticles.com/article/Irrelevance-of-Search-Results-May-Cost-Google-Its-Position/8618299/ It already brings up popular but irrelevant sites on many topics.

  • Convergence

    The Google doesn’t “reward” sites, too difficult to do so – It only PENALIZES sites, much easier to do so…

  • Bob Teal

    You can only win with PPC. Organic search is dead and even if you pay Google they might still send you nothing for traffic. We have to leave it up to Google to decide what we deserve as far as traffic even if we pay them for traffic. At GBE Packaging we have some of the lowest prices on the web for packaging supplies and that is what our customers want. Low prices and quality products shipped fast. They do not want to like us or click on +1 buttons. The web is for business and not play. We stopped trying to please Google and will worry about our customers. That is our future. Not Google’s policies.

    • Jonny

      yes, but google own sites not follow their own guidelines, however it ranked at top1 everywhere. (white lists?)

  • mark

    Google is giving me no results right now, they are all tangled up, I find that Bing works better. I mean it is a search engine, I can use my searching knowledge as I have learned over the years to formulate strings that yeld results.. not with google any more. Oh well.

  • bill

    Hi, the answer is simple > paranoia in advanced condition, dont they have any real work to do? This google guy reminds me to two old women who site together and talk nonsense about the neighbor.

    • Jonny

      because he unable to say directly, like: sorry, we need more money and for this purpose we need to tank 99.9% of small business websites.

  • Old Webmaster

    I’ve run a website for job seekers for over 15 years. As a someone who has survived a major corporate layoff which resulted in tragedy for many of my colleagues (suicides, homes lost, etc.), providing job seekers with solid help has been my goal – my ONLY goal! Over the years my site and I have received much recognition for the quality of the content.

    It’s an old domain, and it has a high link profile because it is old, because the content is high quality, because the content is very useful to job seekers, and because I’ve worked on it every day for 15+ years.

    Google used to love my site. It has hundreds of articles written by experts (whom I compensated with links to their blogs and books) and thousands of links directly to employer recruiting pages as well as many other carefully-vetted resources for job search.

    So, with all those links, it got hit by Panda, of course. Traffic down 50%. Consequently, I’ve no-indexed all those pages of links (and thousands of hours of research) because Google won’t do the DMCA take-downs now. The information is too common or unnecessary now, apparently, even all the carefully-written descriptions, and all my research and efforts keeping the links up to date. They benefit fewer and fewer job seekers (but plenty of scrapers!).

    So, I’ve given up on helping job seekers safely find real employers, because – of course! – Google apparently does such a great job that my work is unnecessary now. Or, maybe it’s because all my work is now so widely distributed with all that scraping that wasn’t violating DMCA (or was it!). Yes, for $250/page, I can have that stuff taken down, but I certainly can’t afford that now, and I bet the scrapers know that.

    Then, Google decided it didn’t like “guest bloggers.” And my carefully screened experts and all those excellent articles written by those experts became boat anchors for my traffic, and it took another 50% hit.

    These experts are NOT the emailed SEO blogger (although MANY of those folks have approached me). You would recognize these names if you were in the world of job search – famous in the media for their expertise, famous authors, and also many not-so-famous but still genuine bone fide experts in their fields, trying to help people survive a tough job market. Too bad… Just more spam to Google, apparently.

    So, my traffic is down to 25% of what it was just 2 years ago because of too many links and too many “guest bloggers” who aren’t “guests” on my site which is not a “blog.” Too bad that I decided I wasn’t an expert in resumes, job interviews, job networking, veterans benefits, Facebook, LinkedIn, entrepreneurship, etc. I should have just learned those fields sufficiently to write hundreds of expert articles about those topics myself. What a slug!

    Now I am no-following all the links that I provided my experts in gratitude for their contribution and to help job seekers learn more if they wanted to. I’m reducing the number of links, too, of course, still mentioning the book titles and the Twitter handles, but not linking any more. If a job seeker wants that book, they’ll need to Google the name now. If they want more information from Twitter, they’ll just have to figure out how to find those accounts. Or, not…

    If job seekers want more resources for their job search, well, that’s why God created Google, right? Not my job any more. Just be careful out there, as the old sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues.

    Nothing I can do to help those job seekers now. Seriously considering going out of business if my traffic doesn’t improve relatively soon. Actually, “considering” is the wrong term – I WILL be out-of-business because I won’t be able to afford the conversion to “responsive design” that’s been back-burnered because I can’t afford it now.

    Interestingly, the competitor sites that are beating my site now are much younger sites that charge people to write for them. Hundreds of dollars per month or per article. And they have plenty of new articles published every day, so revenue must be great for them. Traffic certainly is, and that brings more eager writers willing to pay for visibility. Apparently that’s what Google wants now. So, maybe I’ll start charging people to write for my site? Feels kind of bass-ackward to me, but whatever Google wants is what is necessary for survival today. Then, maybe I’ll be able to afford that responsive design conversion…

    Speaking of bass-ackward, Google courted me several years ago to add AdSense to my site. I didn’t add it because I didn’t think that they did a very good job of screening their advertisers targeting job seekers (“Just complete the resume / application form on our ‘job board’ – with your SSN and mother’s maiden name please – and we’ll let you see the jobs then.” NO!)

    So, in desperation to get back into Google’s good graces, I applied for AdSense last year, and my site was rejected (too low quality, now, apparently) with all that duplicated content floating around – and with Google AdSense on several of those copycat sites, too, of course. Not a problem for them!

    People are encouraging me to get all of my experts on Google Plus to show Google that they really are experts. But, G+ will be gamed too, (sorry David Amerland, I don’t think G+ is “the answer” to these problems), and with all the no-indexing and no-following, I’m kinda tired of trying to keep Google happy, much less with a closer tie through G+.

    I think that Google somehow needs to get people involved in the vetting of sites. No algorithm or combination of algorithms will beat all the gamers, and Google is just causing more damage to good sites like mine by trying to get rid of the gamers and scammers.

    Google does not have an easy job, so they have my sympathy, at least to a certain degree. My site’s demise is just collateral damage in Google’s war against the cheaters and gamers – a necessary war, unfortunately, but being collateral damage is VERY annoying. The cheaters and gamers will adjust to the new rules and survive just fine. Guess my run is about over, unless I can find another source of traffic. Wish this run was ending on a more positive note. Dang!

    • Jonny

      even adsense earnings is total joke now. it constantly going down, even if traffic on same level.

  • http://www.netbuilder.com.my/home/SEO+Malaysia/q?m=article&article_id=24 Danny Cheng

    I agree that there’s nothing wrong about awarding due credit for legit content- and yes, I would go about asking to remove links if I thought for 1 minute that Google would penalize my site- still, Cutts has made it clear that they’re only targeting low quality guest blog sites. The only problem is only Google knows which website is “reputable” and which one isn’t….

  • http://www.mrtechnique.com/ Mr. Technique

    I’m going to continue to build natural links by posting in blogs and doing the occasional guest blogging. There’s no way that Google can’t depend on links for their SERPs as that’s the only way that websites are connected.

  • Scott Soesbee

    I definitely advise removing them due the fact that the
    outcome is related closely to death. We were a victim of a blog site. We ranked
    number one on a Google search for three years. Google preformed an update, next
    thing we found out is we have received a manual spam action. What happened as
    we found out, we hired a video firm to do work on our videos. They posted them
    to a blog site. The blog site was determined as a link farm by Google. We got
    blacklisted for something we had no clue of. Four months later we are still
    nowhere to be found after the manual spam action was removed three months ago.
    We are waiting for the next Panda update. We averaged 80 site visits a day
    before the blacklist. After the blacklist, we were still number 1 on yahoo and
    bing. We got 2 site visits a day. Truth be told, if you are not on Google, you
    might as well not have a website. We have removed all links and we know that
    this will cause us some problems being ranked. But after spending $15,000 on a
    website not to be index has hurt us. Luckily we had other business to carry us
    through. We learned two very important lessons.

    1. Don’t plan on running your business dependent upon a
    search engine.

    2. Don’t allow anyone to link to your site unless you know
    they are a valuable company. Stay away from Blog Posts.

    Believe me I was furious when I see that 4 of my competitors
    are linked to sites that have nothing to do with the business they are in and
    have stolen some of my pictures off of my site and copied my format and we were
    the one that was blacklisted. In fairness to Google, those sites are not
    considered a link farm, our link was. Google did nothing wrong. They are just
    trying to be the best search engine. The downfall is not worth a value of a
    link. Next time you want to link to a blog, think of six months of lost revenue
    and a ton of work to get links removed.

    • http://www.consultancymarketing.co.uk/ Ian Smith

      “Google did nothing wrong. They are just trying to be the best search engine.” Get rid of that piece of nonsense for a start.
      While I sympathise with your situation (as with hundreds of thousands of other SMEs) the truth is that Google is caught in it’s own web of contradictions. And the more complicated it gets, the worse the SERPS get and the more Google profits from Adwords.
      Forget Google – they’re a lost cause.

  • http://webmaster-talk.eu Chris Hirst

    “Google” has not got ANYBODY ‘scared’, Google WANT people to link naturally. What has people scared are the clueless “experts” who appear too dumb to actually READ and understand what Google reps actually say, instead they read about three lines of a Matt Cutts post and then make up the rest to suit what they think he meant
    Take the “All guest posting is spam” which is currently doing the rounds of the usual suspects. They conveniently leave out the “for links” from the statement just to make it more sensational, which results in yet more F.U.D. about Search and masks Google’s real message.
    True S.E.O. hasn’t changed in twenty years. Do what is best for REAL users and ignore the “what search engines want” pseudo-scientific drivel, is STILL the best way to get genuine results from Search that will outlast all the short term “algo chasing” tricks.

    • http://www.consultancymarketing.co.uk/ Ian Smith

      I stopped believing in Father Christmas when I reached 8 years old.

  • Competition Equals Change

    Enjoy the abuse of power. Absolute power absolutely corrupts. People never forget that we are the true architects of the internet and Google is nothing but a reporter of what we build. Google will destroy itself as history has always reflected of those that rise to power, gain control and then get power drunk. Is anyone old enough to remember how many overnight millionaires were produced? How the undiscovered could get on a worldwide stage? They could have remained as a shining example for the world of a company that had the potential to produce millionaires over and over. Yet they will continue to squander that by continuing to consolidate power and resources into their hands and the hands of their buddies. People ask yourselves, “what is Google without all of us?” and you will clearly see they are nothing. Do you know how we show them? We move to other platforms and revoke the power we have let them ascertain. The power is and always will be with us. Google’s manipulations have started their own boycott and once enough of us realize this the tide will change. Those that have spoken of Google being a business increasing its bottom line for advertising revenue are absolutely correct. Be mindful that we as a society absolutely need competition among these companies as it forces them to be competitive and do the right thing. Google continues to punish all of us legit people for nothing most of the time so it is time to address them with our punishment, that being, we boycott them with our time and resources. Will it be easy? Not always, change never is… but mark my words Google will come into compliance with what we want or they will become obsolete and they will disappear. Pardon my reference but as they say in America “give them the bird” and watch how fast they do a 180. We need to help SE’s like Bing/Yahoo, Ask, Lycos, AOL, Jeeves and many others get stronger to ensure a healthy and competitive SE (search engine) marketplace. Pick up what I am putting down and TOGETHER we will absolutely effect the change we all want.