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Will Google suspect that useful links on our site are paid?

Will Google suspect that useful links on our site are paid? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

MALE SPEAKER: Today’s question comes from Greg M. in Vancouver. Greg asks, “On our travel site, we recommend and link out to hotels and bed and breakfasts in our niche. Our readers find it useful. They’re not paid links, so we don’t add the nofollow attribute. What stops Google from suspecting these are paid links and penalizing us?” Great question, Greg. The short answer is, if you’re linking to high quality sites and you editorially think that they are good sites, that’s how most of the web works, right? We get into this tiny little area of search in SEO, and we’re convinced all links are nofollowed. If a link looks good, it must be paid or something like that. And the fact is that, for the most part, whenever you’re looking at links, people are linking to stuff that they like. They’re linking to stuff that they enjoy. So if we mistakenly thought that those were paid links, and as a result penalized you, there would be a ton of collateral damage. There would be a ton of algorithmic damage to our search rankings. So it’s in our enlightened best self-interest, as well as the interests of our users, to make sure that we don’t accidentally classify links as paid and penalize the site. And normally, even if we would classify links as paid, we might not trust the links from your site. But we wouldn’t have things where your site would necessarily stop ranking as well. It can happen. If somebody’s selling a lot of links, they’ve been selling them for a long time, those sorts of things. So we do take strong action in some situations. But a lot of the times, if we think that a link might be sold– or we have very good reason to suspect– we might just not trust that site’s links nearly as much. Or maybe zero. So that’s roughly the answer. If we were to make that mistake on your site, we would probably be making that mistake on a lot of sites. We’d be losing a lot of good links, and so our rankings wouldn’t be as good. So it’s in our interest to try to make sure that we have not just recall– that is, finding paid links– but also precision. That the links that we find and think are paid, really are paid. And we do try to very careful about that as well.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: