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Charity links, a good idea or potentially dangerous?

     
5:11 am on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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As most of you probably already know, Paul Walker passed away last weekend. While I was a fan of some of his movies I didn't know much about his private life and, as usual, you learn a lot about someone after they are gone.

- Known for random acts of philanthropy
- Founder of Reach Out WorldWide, an aid relief charity focused on bringing first responders to disasters
- Horticulturalist, he owned lots of acres in Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara
- Ocean enthusiast, he wanted to be a marine biologist more than an actor and planned to get it done
- All around good guy, the better half to many friends and family
- A doer, he didn't just fantasize, he acted.
- A popular actor but if you asked about acting he'd just answer your questions. If you asked about his other passions he'd talk your ear off.

The list could go on, and yes he had his flaws too, we all do. Anyway, I've decided that the VERY least I can do is link to his charitable foundation from the footer of my sites, a simple "please donate to roww.org" sort of thing and that's presenting a bit of a problem.

Google, while I don't particularly care if they lie it or not the reality is that a footer link to a charitable trust makes my site seem like a template and the last thing I want is for that to be held against the charity site, and to a lesser extent my own.

Is it safe (according to Google algorithms) to link to a charity site from your pages in 2013/2014? Your thoughts(and experiences) on these types of links appreciated.
8:22 am on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure of the answer to this one, but what I am sure of is, imo:
It's really sad things have gotten to the point where the question needs to be asked.

Honestly, personally, on my own site, I'd probably go with "guck foogle" and include the link, but I really don't think that's great SEO advice at this point in time, so as far as "I need to rank in Google's SERPs for a living", goes, I'd most likely not "test the waters" right now and leave the link/mention off, which I think is completely sad to have to do, but I also think it's the safest advice I can give wrt rankings.
11:39 am on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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In the end, Sgt_Kickaxe, that's your website. Any links that make sense to you and to your visitors, should make sense for Google. If they don't... well, you're still the web*master*.
12:19 pm on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Why don't you nofollow this link?
Or redirect it via intermediate page which is blocked by robots.txt.
Or you could create the link via external javascript and block this external js file by robots.txt.

Theoretically, any of these should be safe.
1:22 pm on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Sure, the link could use nofollow. But this begs the question why the use of nofollow should be used when the OP seems to genuinely care about this charitable foundation and what it stands for. Is this not an editorial link?

Linking, as an act of kindness, could actually do more harm to the charitable foundation then good. Footer links could possibly trigger some sort of penalty and cause the foundation to be penalized in Google.

This is the problem we have when so much of the online world is controlled by one entity. A loss of the freedom to link freely, without fear of retaliation, is the new norm. I can only imagine how bad it will be five years from now.

JD_Toims was correct in stating that it is sad that we must now debate the potential for Google penalties when linking to a charity.
1:49 pm on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I could be naive, but I'd like to think we don't.

If I were Google, I'd expect links to charity websites to
(a) occur in footers
(b) be sitewide too
(c) come from non-related websites of all types and any subject.

I also think that there will be many people adding links like you are thinking of doing right now, across the web. I'd expect Google to be able to spot the 'viral' and random nature of this.

I could be wrong :)

But a search engine worth its salt with a data set as big as theirs it should be able to tell, surely?
2:33 pm on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I would post the link and not think about it, myself. But if you're worried, nofollow it.
2:37 pm on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Why in the footer?

How many "real people" (not webmasters) even look at footer links?

If you really want to help the organization, put the link where people will see it.
3:39 pm on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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"Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links"

I think that would put Charity links in the "to be nofollowed" category, no?
4:02 pm on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Why waste time overthinking this?

Just post the link but "nofollow" it as you would with any other form of advertising.

The foundation and its beneficiaries need cash donations, not PageRank.
10:51 pm on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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"I want to support this cause, but only if I can be absolutely certain that doing so will have no negative effects on me whatsoever."

Is that the position?
12:59 am on Dec 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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For years now, maybe 10+, I have had at the bottom of my LHS navigation (inverted L) links to two charity sites ... Screw Google if they take offence!

Stop kowtowing to the Gorg!
2:16 am on Dec 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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For years now, maybe 10+, I have had at the bottom of my LHS navigation (inverted L) links to two charity sites ... Screw Google if they take offence!


After 10+ years or so, you must have some indication of whether or how Google has reacted to those charity links. Could you share what you've observed?
6:43 am on Dec 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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How many "real people" (not webmasters) even look at footer links?

In my experience, enough people to make it worthwhile putting useful stuff there too.

It's a fairly recent trend for lots of sites have a 'mini-sitemap' at the bottom of the page with the most important links from the main menu, plus terms/privacy. On bigger sites that aim to field queries with FAQs or forums then the contact link is often there.

Now that people have got more used to scrolling, a more detailed menu at the bottom of the page often means you don't need to go back to the top to carry on into the site.

I know from looking at the click percentages overlay in Analytics that links down there do get clicked on.

Footer links may be a dirty word to some but I think there's a world of difference between 10pt nearly invisible keyword anchors to various sites, and a second navigation system. Since this is where partner / family / associate links also traditionally go, I'd really not think twice about a banner ad for a charity here. It could even be something approaching a USP and the altruism demonstrated might produce trust or other 'sales-friendly' feelings in visitors. I'd really hope that Google would be able to tell the difference.
9:31 am on Dec 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Just link it. Seriously - one link isn't going to harm you.

If you want the link to actually do something put it in editorial rather than the footer. You pretty much wrote the post at the start of this thread.
11:09 am on Dec 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Such a sad state of affairs that we have to worry about this sort of stuff.

Personally I would just link and not worry about it.
4:12 pm on Dec 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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If you want the link to actually do something put it in editorial rather than the footer.


Better yet, make a donation. That's what the charity really needs.
5:04 pm on Dec 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Such a sad state of affairs that we have to worry about this sort of stuff.

I totally agree, but such concern is not without merit. A company that was running a furniture recycling campaign, and donating proceeds, not too long ago had a legitimate link pointing to it which was listed in their wmt account as an unnatural link. Barry's blog had the info about it a few months back I think. Terrible, absolutely terrible!
7:42 pm on Dec 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Not sure what kind of site you are, but if you have a blog, why not do a write up about the site and do-follow link from that, and then link to the blog post from the footer? That way it can earn some deserved editorial link juice and there is no worry about a footer link penalty.

Though, to be honest, unless you're doing blackhat things already, I wouldn't worry about one link hurting your site or their site.
6:59 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The link to this is not correct. It should be "Some" webmasters are scared to link out"
I am old school I kinda resent the fact WebmasterWorld indicates webmasters in general are afraid of linking.
For me and what I do my work hasn't changed. I link out to sites all the time every day without a thought or worry about Google.

I think this is called shell shock were the person in charge doesn't have a clue what to do or were to go.

I know my direction and feel the people that come to the sites I manage know this as well.

To be constructive to the OP.
I would link to them and this question would have never been asked. By asking you really don't know what to do. Like somebody in here and can confirm this. Ain't gonna happen. I like the blog post idea.

Mind telling us what you did from the question you asked?
7:34 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yea I thought the link text used on the WebmasterWorld front page for this post was WAY exaggerated.
8:32 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It looks like Webmaster World has been infected by Huffington Post Headline Syndrome.
10:16 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Charity links, a good idea or potentially dangerous?


Who formulated that title, the OP or Wembamsterworld? I thought it was the OP?

If it was the OP then so be it and not a problem for Webmasterworld. If it was Webmasterworld then .....
10:55 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@nomis5 I think the front page of WebmasterWorld had a different title to the one used by the OP. I never saw it but I think that is what they are complaining about.
11:32 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I was thinking the same thing!
I put up ReadTheForumCharter.nl for sale and donate the money to WeDoNotAllowSpecificURLS.org

R.I.P Self Promtion
1973-2013

[edited by: goodroi at 11:44 pm (utc) on Dec 10, 2013]
[edit reason] Welcome to WebmasterWorld, Please read and follow the rules [/edit]

8:40 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Once upon a time people were afraid to link because "link juice" was a scarce and precious commodity, one that had to be hoarded.

In the case of deciding whether or not to link to a charity and how to go about it I'd go with "I'd rather heaven love me than Google".

If Google puts the screws to you for attempting to do good works or to do the right thing DO IT and let karma, heaven, the force or something as lowly as public opinion sort out who will suffer.
5:33 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Why don't you nofollow this link?

Because Paul is obviously not paying me, nor is a charity, and I more than trust the site. According to Google's own guidelines that means I don't need nofollow. It's a link I want to share with my visitors too, it applies to everyone and helps humanity worldwide.

I've gone ahead and added it, roww.org can disavow it if they wish. If Google decides to penalize my site over it then so be it. I can only hope that Google learns to trust established charities enough not to smack webmasters who wish to link to them.
6:15 am on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Why don't you nofollow this link?

You'd be surprised of the SEO's that talk to me, that hold some doubts, as to whether they won't be penalized anyway with nofollows.

One operation that republished distributed articles over a network of sites, and was hit be both Panda and Penguin just put a site-wide no-follow on. Drastic and potentially self destructive action IMO.

My point is that trusting Google's guidelines isn't enough for a lot of people. Personally, I'd no follow it via a no-index page. Chances are you're ok - but who's trusting what I say. Who'd blame you.

No wonder the OP put the question out there.

Webmasters Now Fearful Over Linking As A Result Of Google's Crackdowns - Homepage

This should tie the two together better for those that would prefer the headline dialled down, charity or non charity.