Early last year, Google’s Gary Illyes issued a statement in which he vented his anger at websites that refused to link out. In particular, he was angry with a number of news publication sites that were no longer publishing links to blogs or smaller publications that they were using as sources.
According to a Virtual Keynote video session, Gary was feeling a bit miffed after reading an article that referred to the original content provider by name – without providing a link. Apparently there were two companies with the same name, and he had to work out which one the original article was using as a reference. In Gary’s opinion – the whole shenanigan could have been avoided completely with a simple back link.
“The internet is made up of links and not linking out is not how the internet works,” – Gary Illyes
So, Why Are Webmasters Reluctant to Link Out in the First Place?
Although Gary Illyes is “angry” with sites that don’t link out, John Mueller has since explained that no penalty exists for not linking out, and that if a site chooses not to link to anyone else they will not be demoted.
However, one of the main reasons that webmasters are scared of linking out is that they might invoke a penalty if the site they link to is considered to be spammy in nature. In essence, many SEOs are claiming that Google themselves are to blame for this alleged culture of fear.
In addition to this, webmasters know very well that they can also be penalized for broken links.
So, if you own a website or online resource that links out to another page or site – and that page or site is temporarily down when your page is being crawled and re-indexed – you stand a good chance of being penalized and demoted for providing that link. Of course, the easiest way to avoid this situation is by not linking out in the first place!