I link where it’s relevant…
I have no problem linking out to people. Really, I don’t…
If I quote a piece of research here or reference something someone said, I will generally link out to that piece of research or to the social profiles or blogs of the person I’m quoting or talking about. I don’t do that thinking about providing them with any SEO benefits. I do it because it’s relevant for the people reading anything I write to be able to go and see for themselves what the Hell I’m talking about.
I got into a conversation earlier with someone I know who isn’t in the SEO industry. She blogs in the health and beauty niche just for fun and earlier she sent me a message on Facebook asking me if I could clarify something for her. She had been “advised” that she should remove all of her outbound links because Google might penalise her. Let me make a couple of points clear:
- She doesn’t run ads or paid posts
- She blogs for fun
- She links to relevant products or posts she references (as is normal)
Essentially, someone whose product she linked to clearly has suffered some sort of penalty and now is removing all links. Like, all of them… even the natural ones. They’d got in touch and pointed her to a load of paranoid posts and made her incredibly worried that she was in fact doing something wrong.
My advice to her was not to worry. She’s not taking payment for links. She links when relevant. She’s got a good naturally acquired level of authority on her blog. So I provided her with some context, advised her not to worry and left it at that…
The Paranoia Epidemic
This isn’t the first time I have had a conversation about this. There seems to be some form of paranoia (probably induced by SEOs trying to clean up link profiles by removing absolutely everything) epidemic. Only a couple of weeks ago I got involved in a conversation on Google Plus about the very same thing and I can think of half a dozen (at least) similar conversations I’ve had. (And no, Google did not pay me for that link to Google Plus ;-)).
It’s a shame this has happened where people who are none the wiser about the ins and outs of SEO now feel hesitant to link out to their sources.
My Linking Policy – or Lack Thereof
I link out where relevant. If I talk about something or someone, I am happy to link where that link supplies context. (The irony of not linking to the aforementioned beauty blogger in this case isn’t lost on me… it’s by request).
If someone emails me and simply asks for a link (still happens nearly daily… yup, even requests for rented sidebar links. #ouch) they’ll be ignored… unless I’m in a particularly sarcastic mood, in which case they’ll get a snarky email response. I don’t run links cos someone asks or pays.
I do, however, run guest features here (shock, horror, shoot me down dead). I won’t stop doing that. Guest blogging isn’t dead… it’s just that crappy spammy guest blogging is terminally ill. And if someone I like, know or respect wants to contribute an alternative viewpoint or piece of expertise here, then why would I refuse that?! Makes no sense.
I don’t no-follow. I don’t omit links. I don’t check with the webmaster guidelines every single time I’m considering writing about someone or something.
When I was at school, we were always told to credit our sources…. and I apply that online today in the form of relevant outbound linking.