Google’s Outbound Link Penalty

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photodune-8762805-link-xsPart of the SEO that I carry out on my own sites includes linking out to great resources and authority sites.  I do this because it makes sense to do so for the visitor.  The more you can help your visitor, the better your web page is, and that includes providing links out to great resources.

You may have heard that Google has started penalizing pages that link out to other sites.  Don’t worry, they haven’t.

Earlier this year, Google DID manually penalize some sites for “unnatural” outbound links, so a lot of people have jumped to the wrong conclusions.

It seems that the penalties were actually given for outbound links that had been given in exchange for free products or services.   So, a company contacts you and says have our product for free and all you need to do is add a link to our website, social page or somewhere else.   Maybe they’ve asked you for a review which would naturally link to their sales page.

Essentially then, these are paid links and paid links are not tolerated by Google in any form.

The advice from Google is to use the nofollow attribute on your outbound links if they could be construed as being added for  something in return.  This also applies to affiliate links, but I think most people already use nofollow on those.

How to check if your site been penalized

Login to Google Search Console and check your messages.  This was a manual action and Google will have notified you.  If you have, clean up the links and submit a reconsideration request to Google.

Matt Cutts on Outbound Link Penalties

Here is a video of Matt Cutts discussing outbound links.

You may notice that this video is from 2013, so this is not a new penalty.

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5 thoughts on “Google’s Outbound Link Penalty”

  1. John Williams


    Not sure if the URL redirection issue is the same as i had a few weeks ago, and i reported it to UDEMY and they acknowledged an issue that if you are not signed into your UDEMY account on the device that you are trying to view the particular URL, you will not be redirected correctly.

    Apologies, if this is not the issue that you were referring to but just thought i would share my experience of something similar….. i do not believe the fix has been resolved yet either..

    1. Hi John
      It is possible I did something wrong rather than Udemy with this. It’s not the same issue you are describing. I tested again today and resent the email and it all seemed to be fine this time.

  2. HI ANDY,

    Thank you for taking the tiem to write this post.

    Sorry for the delayed reply, but now that you’ve mentioned affiliate links, and now in 2016 after Hummingbird, Penguin 3, et al, what is your preferred method on how to insert an affiliate to a vendor/manufacturer that’s safe in the eyes of Google?

    I realize that this sounds like affiliate mktg 101, but my point is how to implement this in THIS day and age heading in 2017, after all of the algo changes and penalties as of late.

    Thanks heaps for your time. 🙂

    Best wishes,

    1. Simply nofollow them. They will be fine. The content on the page has to be great too though. If you stipped out all the “promo” stuff and links, is the page still valuable for the visitor?

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