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Could having zero outbound links hurt my rankings with Penguin?
Oimachi2




msg:4474008
 7:19 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm so paranoid about Google that I don't link AT ALL, not a single outgoing link.

Should I put some nofollow links to "authority sites" to look more "natural"?

Might that be a reason why some of my sites got hit by Penguin?

 

Robert Charlton




msg:4474010
 7:38 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I get the sense from reading your question that not having a sense of what's actually useful to visitors and customers, and of what makes a good site vs a bad site, is probably what's hurting you the most.

Take a look at this thread, just posted, linking to an article in which Eric Enge and Matt Cutts discuss what makes a good quality site. I think it might be helpful to you, as I feel your questions are coming from an entirely wrong direction....

Matt Cutts talks about what makes a good quality site
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4474003.htm [webmasterworld.com]

lucy24




msg:4474015
 8:05 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Should I ... to look more "natural"?

I don't suppose it's any use suggesting you might do it to be more natural. Oops. Wrong forum.

I see it like this: Sooner or later your visitors will have read every last page, including the technical specs for widgets that have been out of stock since 2007, and they will have to leave.* At that point they can either just wander off, or they can go where you want them to go-- retaining a vague memory that this second interesting site was recommended by that other interesting site.

To put it in more calculating terms: They go somewhere other than straight back to google. I believe this is generally held to be A Good Thing.


* Or, in my case: "If I read one more article about how to say 'leaf blower' in Inuktitut, I will go stark staring bonkers. That site about pastry cutters sounds interesting."

Retu_Kalra




msg:4474025
 8:37 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't think that having outbound links can hurt your website ranking. The most important thing is that your site should be user friendly and informative.

Oimachi2




msg:4474040
 9:22 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Please not more "Quality...user experience...content...Matt Cutts",advice...!

This is not a "social media" site with bells and whistles, and you can't really do any special "content" for it.

This is a question regarding algorythms.

A plain answer with someone having that particular experience would be appreciated.

Is having no outgoing links a parameter or not for ranking (after or before penguin), I'm sure some webmaster out there experimented with this or has some kind of numbers for this scenario.

Cheers!

Shaddows




msg:4474045
 9:51 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have quite a lot of data about the value of outbounds, and we link out.

Well-curated, well maintained, relevant links to authoratative (or just plain interesting) sites work well.

I would strongly recommend you try your own testing on this. It is almost completely ignored as a topic on this or any other forum, so any intelligence you gather would give you an edge over SEOs practicing third- or forth-hand advice.

Oimachi2




msg:4474048
 10:20 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Shaddows,

Thanks for the honest response.

I've read that having outgoing to authority sites helps, Google is a robot, not a human and I'm sure this is part of the algos.

For me to link out doesn't really make sense for my business model, would just loose me business and increase the bounce rate.

But linking to non competitive ressources like Gov sites for forms or weather info would be what I'm looking at. Nofollow in pop up window also so they don't leave the site.

deadsea




msg:4474052
 11:04 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've done some testing several years ago and was unable to see any strong benefit from linking out. On the other hand, we couldn't see any harm either. When we link out we didn't see a loss in pagerank, a loss in traffic, or a loss in rankings. Given that it doesn't seem to hurt at all, users often find it helpful, and it might help, I do it. I recommend that you do it as well.

(In our tests we were linking out all the time, we just switched it from tracked redirects that googlebot couldn't follow because of robots.txt to clear dofollow links. So it is possible that Google know we were linking out all along from user analytics.)

Shaddows




msg:4474053
 11:07 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

It shouldn't affect your bounce rate, depending on what you mean by that.

You mention "weather". If you are not a meteorology, holiday booking, tourist info or similar, linking to weather will be counter-productive.

Nofollowing is a terrible idea. It's the kind of thing people do because they read it was a good idea. It isn't. It's a means of disincentivising UGC from spam linking, or to cite something dodgy:
"I can't believe this article [linkbait.com]". Or to publish paid ads in a Google-compliant way.

If you are planning on using "popups" eek, then you might as well link to non-competing parallel sites. That will be of more value to your user, and... actually, do some testing.

Outbounds have tangible effect on the linking page, and indeed the linking site. You need to test on different targets, different contexts and a whole bunch of other things.

Shaddows




msg:4474054
 11:14 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

@deadsea
Have you tried the reverse? Publish a page with links, wait for rankings to settle, then drop the links? Or point them to a similar, but inferior, information source.

deadsea




msg:4474055
 11:24 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

No, I haven't tried that. Are you saying that your rankings have worsened when you've tried that?

Oimachi2




msg:4474058
 11:43 am on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

For Shaddow,

Not pop ups, I just meant "open in new window".

I have a theory that having no outgoing links at all might be shunned by Google as being "unatural", no proof, I've been hit pretty severly by Penguin.

One of the sites I'll add some links to Wikipedia and goverment sites for forms and rules. Let's see what will happen!...

As a lot of you can understand, not all sites are made for social media and all that c*&^%p!

My sites are transportation sites, nothing fancy about shipping a second hand 5 ton truck from Hamilton to Iroquois Falls for example...

No facebook or "Matt Cutts" content will work for that. The guy wants a quote and to make a phone call. No "video" or social media can help, I need traffic.

robzilla




msg:4474070
 12:09 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Frankly, I wouldn't expect that to work at all. Penguin is specifically targeted at webspam, so if that indeed is what hit your site, you've probably got much bigger fish to fry than wondering about having or not having any outbound links -- which, I would argue, would be a worthless quality signal anyway.

Oimachi2




msg:4474073
 12:19 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks Robzilla for the non accusational tone ;)

I got nailed with Penguin because of "over optimization" of anchor text.

As if I knew it was wrong to do that?

What is "over optimization"?

Can an athlete "over optimize" his performance? Sorry, you ran to fast, run slower next time.

Can an artist "over optimize" his art? Sorry that painting is just too nice, do it again.

I'm not impressed with Google.

I never spam, I promote what I sell, nothing else.

Lame_Wolf




msg:4474079
 12:32 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Can an athlete "over optimize" his performance? Sorry, you ran to [sic] fast, run slower next time.
Yes, that is why they drug-test people.
Oimachi2




msg:4474082
 12:41 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good point lame_wolf!

But the athlete knows not to use drugs.

Honest webmasters with not bad intentions did nothing wrong but get hit because of anchor text penalty. We never knew not to do that, there was no warning.

What if you got retroactively arrested for selling cucumbers and carrots because the government suddenly made them illegal substances?

Would that make you a criminal?

Over optimization is not really wrong, you can hand out as many business cards and shake as many hands as you want, as long as what you are offering is what you are selling.

Google is confusing spam with genuine promotion.

jimbeetle




msg:4474113
 1:44 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Should I put some nofollow links to "authority sites" to look more "natural"?


As Shaddows said, using nofollow here is not really a good idea. You're basically telling the search engines "See, I'm linking to authority sites," then turning around and saying "But I really don't want to editorially vouch for them so please don't pay attention the links."

smithaa02




msg:4474138
 2:03 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think the OP might be on to something. Here is what Matt Cutts said on the issue before Penguin:

Q: Okay, but doesn’t this encourage me to link out less? Should I turn off comments on my blog?

A: I wouldn’t recommend closing comments in an attempt to “hoard” your PageRank. In the same way that Google trusts sites less when they link to spammy sites or bad neighborhoods, parts of our system encourage links to good sites.

[mattcutts.com...]

Lame_Wolf




msg:4474151
 2:41 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

But the athlete knows not to use drugs.


Nor did Joe Swanson from the Quahog Police Department. Plus, there are cases where there have been false-positives... just like with Google.


What if you got retroactively arrested for selling cucumbers and carrots because the government suddenly made them illegal substances?

Would that make you a criminal?


In my country, they cannot suddenly alter the law. And when they do, fair warning has been given. So, yes, that would make you a criminal (in my country). Your laws may differ.

Over optimization is not really wrong,


Is it not ?

Don't confuse optimization with over optimization. The latter starts to fall into the spammy site category.


you can hand out as many business cards and shake as many hands as you want,


Yes, I call that junk mail.


as long as what you are offering is what you are selling.

Still junk mail.... just honest junk mail.

Google is confusing spam with genuine promotion.
Or you are confusing as to what google wants and expects ;)
Shaddows




msg:4474155
 2:50 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

parts of our system encourage links to good sites.

Quotes like that make conversations go all hypothetical.

I would strongly encourage some testing in this area. Adding links to established page is not the way to go (but by all means try it, much better than taking my word for it). A much better way is to publish a page with embedded links, then pull the links.

Or, publish 10 similar quality articles on related topics in one section of a single website. 5 with curated outbounds, 5 without, and check your aggregate traffic.

********

On the tangent this is heading off on...

Google is now acting the way it always claimed to be acting, by trying to rank sites regardless of SEO. What has happened is people doing what "SEOs" were telling them to do, are now getting punished.

There is some evidence that this has gone slightly too far, in that blatant SEO "tricks" or "worst practices" are getting hit, regardless of the underlying content. But that is an inherent feature in the sensitivity/specificity [en.wikipedia.org] trade-off.

netmeg




msg:4474158
 2:59 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Honest answer? Nobody can answer that because nobody knows.

Carry on.

diberry




msg:4474159
 3:00 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I second the call for testing. I'd do it myself, if Penguin hadn't slaughtered my rankings so completely that it's impossible to develop worthwhile stats from anything I do. I'm making changes to my Penguin-hit heavy outbound link site, but it'll be hard to reach useful conclusions.

deadsea




msg:4474160
 3:01 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't doubt you Shaddows, except that if Google did change its algorithm such that outbound links are now important, I would really expect them to trumpet it. I've always wondered why they don't penalize for not linking out. Not linking out doesn't provide their algorithms with the signals they need. I'd expect Google to say "if you link out to quality sites, it can help your rankings" so that they have more data for their algos.

Shaddows




msg:4474164
 3:07 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Honest answer? Nobody can answer that because nobody knows.

Or, alternatively, everyone's answer is honest, but could just be wrong.

The thing is, it's hard to be confidently right about the effects of buying/selling links, or what causes Panda/Penguin changes, or if you have been penalised or just reranked.

It's pretty bloody easy to test if outbound links make a difference.

It annoys me when a clearly practical problem descends into a hypothetical discussion. Just create a methodology and test it.

netmeg




msg:4474166
 3:12 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's just ONE THING, and by itself it means nothing. My sites link out like a mofo, and my rankings never go anywhere but up. I have a couple B2B ecommerce sites under my watch that don't link out at all, and they do fine too. It's just *one thing*.

It's 2012. People need to start looking at forests instead of concentrating on trees.

Shaddows




msg:4474168
 3:27 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's just ONE THING, and by itself it means nothing. My sites link out like a mofo, and my rankings never go anywhere but up. I have a couple B2B ecommerce sites under my watch that don't link out at all, and they do fine too. It's just *one thing*.

It's 2012. People need to start looking at forests instead of concentrating on trees.

And now the tangent is complete.

Of course its one factor. In isolation, everything is just one factor. Writting a paragraph is just one factor. Including an embedded video is just one factor. Including reviews is just one factor. Adding curated outbounds is just one factor.

Also featuring on the list of single factors:
- 800x1200 advert on top of page
- Adding your keyword to every element, attribute and alt tag you can find
- white-on-white text.

So what? Forests are made of trees. You need trees to create a forest.

Can you do well without outbounds? Sure. Do they help? I believe they do.

Is it the answer to any given ranking fall? Almost certainly no.

Oimachi2




msg:4474169
 3:27 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Netmeg,

When you start loosing 80% of your income because Google suddenly decided that they didn't like the way you ran things...and beleive me it could happen.

You are doing fine now, but you live in a castle of cards, we all do.

Please don't think you are safe from Google, because you aren't!

Things might be good now, I know because I thought the same thing as you. I was the king of my industry online for over a decade...

But then, suddenly you can drop for no reason, no matter the "content", how hard you try, how honest you are.

Please keep that in mind before saying "my rankings never go anywhere but up", just wait, you'll see!

netmeg




msg:4474176
 3:41 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

And now the tangent is complete.


I don't get what you're complaining about.

When you start loosing 80% of your income because Google suddenly decided that they didn't like the way you ran things...and beleive me it could happen.


No it couldn't. 80% of my income is not dependent on Google.

[edited by: netmeg at 3:44 pm (utc) on Jul 10, 2012]

Oimachi2




msg:4474177
 3:42 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

To Shadow:

Is it the answer to any given ranking fall? Almost certainly no.

Proably not the reason for a drop, but could it contribute? Is it a factor at all?

Do inbound links that you have no control of(in all, some or most cases) matter more than outbounds?

Everybody talks about inbound links, but where is the current research on outbound?

Oimachi2




msg:4474178
 3:43 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good point Netmeg,

Depending on Google is suicidal!

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
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