diberry - 4:27 pm on Aug 15, 2013 (gmt 0)
In theory, Google can't really tell the difference between a single instance of:
-- My linking to a valuable resource on a topic that I found via Google
-- My linking to a valuable resource on a topic that I found via an industry confidence where I met people
-- My linking to a valuable resource on a topic that I found via Facebook
--My linking to a valuable resource on a topic that someone paid me to link to (as opposed to a barely relevant obviously B.S. link that no one would have chosen editorially, which is also obvious to users)
There's no reason for Google to assume any of these are paid links UNTIL a pattern emerges (as Robert was saying). I have done what the OP is talking about just once - a friend of mine contributed a great idea I knew my visitors would love, so I wrote the post and mentioned that he had a website called Whatever.com, and used the domain name for the anchor text. Now, Google actually advises using keyword-rich anchor text generally, but in this case I was afraid it would look too much like a "guest post", and I've never been confident Google can always tell a quality guest post from a crap one. By using his domain name, I think I signaled to Google that it was a true editorial link and not an attempt to give my friend a boost for any particular keyphrase.
That page ranks #1 for me and neither my site nor my friends' seem to have suffered with Google in any way. So I believe this is safe to do - ONCE. How often? I'm not sure. If you do this with a variety of sites, always anchoring with just the name of the website, that might not look like a "link arrangement" pattern. After all, this is what I see news sites doing - linking to the domain name, not a relevant keyphrase. But even then, it might be that how they do it is not okay, but they have so many positive signals that it overcomes any potential penalty. So you can't even look at what other people are "getting away with" and be sure you'll get away with it too.
It's ridiculous that it's like this, but it is and that's what we have to deal with.