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Can linking to another site harm your rankings?

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
CEO
10 October 2007

Or can it help? Or what!!

As with any website strategy we always say first ‘think of the user’. So if linking out to another website makes sense then go for it. But always think about where you are linking. Of course if it is a site like the BBC or Times Newspaper then its a no brainer, these sites are trusted and there is no problem.

But if you are linking to sites you are unsure of, and that may be unsure of their reputation or some content or ads they are running then there is something you can do negate any possible damage to your site. And that is to add in a No Follow Tag.  This is a piece of code which was originally used to prevent comment spam on blogs but has been adapted so that it can be used to not pass on value or ‘vote’ for the site you are linking to. In essence you are saying I am linking to this site but I cannot vouch for it.

There are some obvious sites you may want to avoid linking to (no need to mention them here, you know what we mean!) but also think about link farms (sites grouped together and linking in an unnatural way), thin affiliates or spammy sites. Google actually says: ‘your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links’.

Also, think about who you are linking to as the links value (juice) you may be trying to pass may be negated if your own site suffers a drop in valuation.

We would always encourage people to link out to other sites, if it makes sense for the user. And there may be a benefit for your site as well. But do be aware of the potential pitfalls and if in any doubt we would say do not link out.

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