Linking Practices That Annoy Matt Cutts, But Don’t Make A Difference To Google

By: Chris Crum - July 9, 2013

Google posted an interesting Webmaster Help video today about linking. It’s basically about whether it’s better to link to an original source somewhere at the top of a post, or at the bottom. The answer is essentially that it makes no difference, as far as Google’s algorithm is concerned. The link will flow PageRank either way, so as fas as SEO is concerned, it really doesn’t matter.

After Cutts answers the question directly, he gets into his personal opinions and discusses what he finds annoying about linking practices.

“I’ll just say, for my personal preference, I really appreciate when there’s a link somewhere relatively close to the top of the article because I really kind of want to know when someone’s talking about it, you know, hey, go ahead and show me where I can read the original source or let me look up more information,” says Cutts. “There are a lot of blogs that will give one tiny little link all the way at the bottom of a big long story, and by that time, it just doesn’t seem like it’s quite as useful, but that’s just a personal preference. That’s not ranking advice as far as it goes.”

“The only other thing I hate – this is once again just personal – is whenever you’ve got a regular news report, whether it’s in a mainstream newspaper – New York Times, AP, whatever – and they say, ‘Blah Blah Blah said on a popular webmaster blog that blah blah blah,’ and they don’t link to the source,” he continues. “I mean, come on. Link to your sources, whether you’re a journalist, whether you’re a blogger, let people go and look at the original information themselves so that they can suss out what they think about whatever it is that you’re writing about. So if you just say, ‘Oh, it was discovered on a popular forum that blah blah blah,’ then we have to go look for it. That’s really annoying.”

“Again, not ranking advice,” he reiterates. “Just asking everybody to be considerate on the web, and share credit, and attribute, so that people can, you know, do the research for themselves if they want to.”

As if anybody on the web would ever be inconsiderate.

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
  • Eilidh MacRae

    Hiya! Great post, very interesting to hear that it doesn’t matter where links are placed really. Thanks.

  • Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing

    I personally don’t like when someone doesn’t link out to the original source because I don’t always trust them, especially when they are citing some statistics. “A recent report shows that…” What report? Where are these numbers coming from? Just having that link in there lends credibility.

  • yankeerudy

    So it doesn’t matter for ranking, but what about for click-throughs? From my (unscientific) experience the links higher up in the article get more clicks, but is that your experience too?

    • Steve eMailSmith

      Bounce rates are a major ranking factor.
      In my opinion, wherever it makes sense (multiple outbound links to drill deeper into some subject) it is ok to hyperlink throughout the article, but it also bad, both readership AND SEO-wise.

      If a visitor lands on my page and the article I wrote is well researched and well written, why would I want someone to jump off my page as soon as they start reading?

      Of course, I always give credit where credit is due, but I think it is perfectly safe and also ethical to specify sources at the end of the article/post.

      Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo
      Chief Editor, eMail Tips Daily Newsletter

  • 3 Mobile

    Hi all. If I write an article that references many sources, surely it makes sense to link where appropriate within the body of text. Also, I know the web is not printed press but aren’t we used to seeing end notes and footnotes?

  • scott graham

    nothing really news worthy for SEO on that video.

  • james

    Linking at the bottom of an article is probably a a habit and standard that’s a holdover from academic articles (which generally place citations at the bottom of a page, o just a desire to have the article look cleaner. either is reasonable enough. Failing to link to the source, otoh is an entirely different matter, and has been considered dodgy behavior since before there was an internet, even.

  • Anoop

    In my website most of the articles and news are taken from external sources and i always provide the reference link back to the website, who are the original source provider of it, all because, at the end of the day they are the real owners of that particular post, so its good to give them some respect

  • Built for Search

    I think the point here is just link naturally, where it would be useful for the reader.

  • Danny

    Should not matter where the links ho in the article, as long as the linked content is relevant…

  • Danny

    Should not matter where the link is placed, as long as the content is relevant to the article.

    • Rank Watch

      Matt is right. Webmasters must not be selfish in making the users be active on their site for a long while, its important to give them link to original article and be of help for them. Many users would like to read it from the original source and use the blog as a notifier.