Can Simply Asking For A Link Now Get You Penalized In Google? [Updated]

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It's nothing new for Google to try to get webmasters to stop focusing on getting links to help their search rankings. Buying links has long been a major no-no, and has hurt plenty of sites over the years as Google catches on and penalizes them in search results.

Now, the company is saying not to even ask for a link. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land points to a new blog post on Google's Portuguese webmaster blog. The relevant quote says:

Para concluir, deixamos um conselho simples para garantir que você não está infringindo as diretrizes do Google: não compre, venda, troque ou peça links. Se seguir esse conselho, a grande maioria dos links que o Google considera problemáticos não chegarão a ser criados.

The part bolded above is actually bolded in the blog post as well, so Google is going out of its way to emphasize it.

Here's that relevant section as translated by Google Translate (again with the same bolded part):

Finally, let some simple advice to ensure that you are not violating Google's guidelines: do not buy, sell, exchange or ask for links . If you follow this advice, the vast majority of links that Google considers problematic not come to be created.

Your first reaction might be to wonder if this is simply a translation issue, but Schwartz says he spoke with "native Portuguese speakers," who say that it is not. In other words, Google means exactly that. Don't buy, sell, exchange or ask for links.

I don't believe it says outright that you will get a penalty for asking for a link, but the language would seem to suggest that it's a possibility. Buying and selling links will certainly get you one.

It wouldn't be easy for Google to enforce this, but that doesn't mean it couldn't do so if it were to find out about certain cases in which links were explicitly asked for.

According to a recent study by Ascend2, relevant link building search marketers polled found relevant link building to be the fourth most effective SEO tactic behind relevant content creation, keyword/phrase research, and frequent website updating. They found it to be the most difficult tactic to execute.

Google has been scaring people about their linking practices for years, and this latest blog post will likely serve to add to that. That's a shame considering that linking is basically the foundation of the web.

Earlier this year, Google's John Mueller said in a Webmaster Central video that in general, he'd try to avoid link building. Here's what noted link building specialist Ken McGaffin has to say about that.

Related Reading: Link Expert Eric Ward Talks Fear and the Evolution of Links

Update: Google has clarified to say that it means don't ask for links that violate its guidelines.

Chris Crum
Chris 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.

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