Does Linking to Lower-Quality Sites Affect Your Credibility with Google?
It has long been assumed that in the world of link building, directing visitors to “lesser” websites is not something that works in your favour; logic dictates that by way of association the fact that you are promoting this “lesser” content sends a powerful message about your brand.
Consequently, it has become the norm for webmasters to avoid when possible to linking to “lesser” websites and pages.
These are all noble efforts to maintain quality standards and please Google, but also efforts that may have been wasted entirely. According to Google, linking to a “lesser” website has no bearing whatsoever on the credibility of your site.
A Case of Quality and Relevance vs Spam
John Mueller took to the Twitter airwaves last week to respond to a question on the issue, presented by a webmaster clearly concerned about their site’s SEO prowess:
“My next question for @JohnMu would be: Do you really lose anything if you link to a low DR website?” she wrote.
“I mean… it doesn’t make much sense that my DR50+ site would lose a bit of its authority if it passes some “link juice” to an aspiring baby website (legit one!) – does it? #SEO”
In response Mr. Mueller once again affirmed Google’s commitment to quality and relevance as the only factors that matter when linking to external sites, lesser or otherwise.
“One way to think about this is to consider the ultimate goal, provide relevant information. Does a link to a “lesser” website make a result less relevant? Do links on Wikipedia make it less useful? No. (As an aside, no search engine uses DR/DA/PA/etc)” was his response.
In a nutshell, this basically means that just as long as the content you are linking to is relevant, it holds the same weight with Google. Links that are spam in nature can and will adversely affect your SEO, but links that point to genuinely relevant content are fair game.
An interesting revelation, given the tendency of webmasters to go to extreme lengths to avoid linking to web pages with a lower PageRank score than their own.