Google Frightens Webmasters from Linking to Their Own Contents

Matt Cutts
Former Head of Webspam at Google Inc.

Google loves links. Obviously, the number one thing which Google will love the most is, contents. This is simply because, if there is no content on the web, there is no need for Google, so content is the fundamental thing which any search engine live upon. But, where does links, fit in this equation.

Links, which is broadly classified as internal and external links, is the primary thing which connects one web page to another. Links that are important in the online world, connect all the world wide contents on the internet. So there is no way search engine can neglect it. Without links they cannot relate and connect to each web page on the World Wide Web.

Google, the search engine giant that stays at the top position of the search engine industry, and the top most visited place on the internet, has always been strict to webmasters. With new updates and new policies, webmasters are afraid to link to their own content, for fear of Google penalizing them. Actually, this isn't exactly new, but the point is being emphasized lately by Google itself.

Google that has a massive database of indexed websites, is trying to keep at its best in the industry. Updates and policies are made by Google to make the search engine show high quality contents at all times.

In late April 2013, the head of webspam at Google, Matt Cutts, addressed the following question in a Webmaster Help video:

Suppose I have a site that covers fishing overall (A) & I make another fishing site that solely focuses on lure fishing (B). Does linking to A from B violate guidelines? I'll make sure both have high quality content & disclose that they're both owned by me.

"Just linking from A to B is not a violation of our quality guidelines," says Cutts. "If you only have two sites, they're thematically related, a person on A would be interested in B…then it makes perfect sense to link those two sites. The problem gets into [when] you don't have two sites, but you have fifty sites, or eighty sites, or a hundred and fifty sites, and then suddenly linking all of those sites starts to look a lot more like a link network and something that's really artificial, as opposed to something that's organic".

"So if you really do have just a small number of sites – you can count them on one hand – and they're all very related to each other, it can make perfect sense to link those together," he said. "It's when you start to get a lot more sites – you know, you don't need 222 sites about car insurance. It looks a little weird if you have and…I'm making these domain names up, so I'm not saying these particular site owners are bad – maybe they're great. Who knows? But if you have 222 different copies of that, usually you're not putting as much work into each individual site, and so as a result, you'll end up with shallow or superficial sites, lower quality content, you're more likely to see doorways…that sort of thing."

Since most (new) webmasters and web owners depend heavily on Google search result, Google has the power over them.

And this isn't the first question Cutts has addressed regarding people linking to their own content recently. In another video, the user asked about internal links leading to lower rankings because of the Google's Penguin update. The exact question was:

Do internal website links with exact match keyword anchor text hurt a website? These links help our users navigate our website properly. Are too many internal links with the same anchor text likely to result in a ranking downgrade because of Penguin?

The person knows that the links are used to help users, but they're still concerned how Google will view them. Regardless of whether or not it's actually good for people who visit the site, they need to make sure it's going to be acceptable to Google, because presumably the users will never find it in the first place if they can't find it in a Google search. Cutts response to the question:

"My answer is typically not," said Cutts. “Typically, internal website links will not cause you any sort of trouble. Now, the reason why I say 'typically not' rather than a hard 'no' is just because as soon as I say a hard 'no' there will be someone who has like five thousand links – all with the exact same anchor text on one page. But if you have a normal site, you know…a catalog site or whatever…. you've got breadcrumbs…you've got a normal template there…that's just the way that people find their way around the site, and navigate, you should be totally fine."

"You might end up, because of breadcrumbs or the internal structured navigation, with a bunch of links that all say the same thing, that point to one page, but as long as that's all within the same domain, just on-site links, you know, that's the sort of thing where, because of the nature of you having a template, and you have many pages, it's kind of expected that you'll have a lot of links that all have that same anchor text that point to a given page."

Basically, this isn't an issue that webmasters and web owners should worry about. The only thing that matters is that since Google is expecting high quality contents for their search results page, Google are strict about people abusing links.. The problem is that clearly well-intentioned people are still worried about whether their practices will be considered abuse by Google, even if they think they're just doing what's right for the user.

After the Penguin update, webmasters had seen many link removal requests by those who were afraid links from other them were hurting their websites. In the process, because of their fear of Google, some requested the removal of links they would have otherwise found valuable.

This week is the one-year anniversary of the Penguin update, and in the near future, people (webmasters) are expecting new big update from Google.