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Do you think it’s possible that ONE outbound link on your site could cause a SITEWIDE Google penalty? I never really thought so until I started following a situation that is being talked about a lot online. Let me fill you in…
This conversation seemed to have all started with an open letter to Matt Cutts et al [1. http://themeld.co.uk/open-letter-cutts-schmidt-page-brin/] written by Doc Sheldon [2. https://twitter.com/DocSheldon] over at TheMeld.co.uk which in short explains how Doc received a notification on March 20, 2014 from Google that his site [3. http://docsheldon.com/] received a SITEwide penalty due to “unnatural, artificial, deceptive, or manipulative OUTBOUND links…”
Yes, you read that right – what he linked TO (and/or HOW he linked) supposedly caused a sitewide penalty.
That in itself is not that far-fetched, right? But wait for it, it gets better.
That open letter led to a response from Matt Cutts[5. https://twitter.com/mattcutts]:
[su_box title=”What Matt Said” style=”glass”]
@DocSheldon what “Best Practices For Hispanic Social Networking” has to do with an SEO copywriting blog? Manual webspam notice was on point.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 24, 2014
[/su_box] Matt was pointing out ONE page on Doc’s site [6. http://docsheldon.com/practices-hispanic-social-networking/] that has a guest post (and not from MyBlogGuest that I talked about in this post) and that guest post has an author ‘bio box’ that has two links in it – one to the authors LinkedIn page and the other (drum roll please….) an optimized anchor text link to a page on the guest authors site: [su_frame align=”center”][/su_frame] So then…. [su_box title=”@DocSheldon Said…” style=”glass”]
@mattcutts My blog is about SEO, marketing, social media, web dev…. I’d say it has everything to do – or I wouldn’t have run it
— DocSheldon (@DocSheldon) March 25, 2014
and needless to say, all hell broke loose from there.
You can read all the comments and conversation on Twitter[7. https://twitter.com/mattcutts/status/447992375160225792] or read more on-going conversation in the thread on Inbound.org[8. http://inbound.org/discussion/view/this-is-insane-period-matt-cutts-on-why-doc-sheldon-s-penalty-was-valid]
If it’s true, and ONE do-follow link with optimized anchor text is enough to cause a manual (?) SITE WIDE penalty, well, that’s pretty crazy.
Whether its Fact or part of the FUD Initiative, I don’t know….I’ll be paying attention to see if any clarity (dare I say “transparency”) of the situation comes out as this all progresses.
To Doc Sheldon…. to you I send this wish – I sure hope you’re “Brand-Enough” to get that lifted quickly.
That All Brings Me To This:
A big part of the discussion around this situation is about anchor text of links – now we shouldn’t use it? Perhaps just straight url links and NEVER EVER any descriptive words about the page we are linking to?
But wait…. doesn’t Google tell us to USE descriptive words as anchor text to “define” what you’re linking to?
Why yes they DO tell us that – and not just “us” as in the SEO-type community, but they tell that to anyone who wants to know how to put a site together to please Google.
Your Honor, may I present Exhibit A – This official video from Google titles “SEO for startups in under 10 minutes”[9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El3IZFGERbM].
At about 6 minutes in the advice in regards to links on a page (both internal AND external) is:
“…And then, of course, descriptive anchor text for every link whether you’re linking internally or externally to another site…”
And then she goes on with an example of how ‘click here’ is not good as a descriptive anchor text phrase…
Here’s the whole video if you’d like to see how it’s presented in its entirety.
So anchor text for links yes? no? sometimes? only if it’s no-followed? only if it’s editorial? only if the intention behind the link is perceived by Google to be editorial?
We all turn our sites into Wikipedia clones?
Anyone pay attention to how I handled the majority of external links in this post?
Is that what we’re coming to?