Destroy Your Blog Rankings Linking To Digg or Technorati?

How many blogs link to Technorati on every post they publish? Many blogs also use followable links to social bookmarking sites such as Delicious, and social news sites such as Digg on every single page of their site? Google in their recently disclosed patent are saying that it could be a negative indication of quality.

Linking to Wikipedia Technorati and Social Bookmark Sites Could Damage Your Google Search Results!

Here is an excerpt from the Google BlogSearch patent document that I discussed in depth earlier today:-

A link distribution of the blog document may be a negative indication of quality of the blog document. As disclosed above, some posts are created to increase the pagerank of a particular blog document. In some cases, a high percentage of all links from the posts or from the blog document all point to ether a single web page, or to a single external site. If the number of links to any single external site exceeds a threshold, this can be a negative indication of quality of the blog document.

Lets take a look at the type of links that people have on their blogs

Technorati Tag Links

Google in the same patent mentioned that tagging could be beneficial for the quality of your site, but what of the detrimental effects of linking through to Technorati with 10 links on every post? Maybe you are undoing all the good work of tagging your content.

Solution: Use local tagging, or just rely on lots of categories or labels to convey tag data – local tagging can be easily achieved using plugins such as Ultimate Tag Warrior if you use WordPress.

Wikipedia Links

Some people link through to Wikipedia it seems almost every other post. Despite Wikipedia being looked on by many as an authority site, such linking habits might be looked on as spammy.

Solution: Use nofollow on your links to Wikipedia

Social Bookmarking Links

This one is a biggie – some people have 10 or more social bookmarking links per page, and many of the most popular solutions don’t provide “safe” links. By safe I mean that the links serve no purpose because they go to an empty form, so in no way are they a pointer or vote on a particular piece of content. I am sure search engines probably discount them heavily, but they may still reduce the value of other links on your page, and may incur a ranking penalty due to being spammy.

I don’t use a normal version of the Sociable plugin, I use a hacked version. If you are using the Search Status plugin for Firefox, it is easy to tell, because you can see the pink boxes.

Sociable Hacked

If you want to hack the Sociable plugin I wrote this guide a few months ago or just use my hacked version, now available.

Digg buttons such as “DiggThis” are not a problem, because they are normally Javascript. Some others use true dynamic linking using things like “onclick”.

Subscription Buttons

Yep more pink on this site, how about on yours?

Subscription Buttons

It is ok to use a followable link to your feed, in fact that is recommended, even if you use and external service such as FeedBurner.

These buttons however link through to forms, not content. They should always be nofollowed.

Solution: Add rel=”nofollow” to the links

Conclusion

I am generous with my Google Juice, using Dofollow plugins for my comments, and link out to my readers often, but I hate pouring Google Juice down the drain.

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Comments

  1. Nate says

    I dont use any technorati or social bookmarking at all for my site yet my serps are miles ahead of competing blogs. In fact Wiki and technorati are my only serp competators so why should I link them at all.

  2. says

    Andy, this just seems wrong to me. I know what the patent says, but c’mon, I think we both know that they are talking about link farms and the like.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, but again, if you write a good blog and you write good content and you’re not using gray-hat techniques, etc… Google is never going to punish you.

    I’ve never read anywhere that they have, have you?

  3. says

    This provides some excellent information, Andy. Your big item on too many social media links can also provide an irritating patch of small icons for those who are not in to this. One solution to that is to use the ekstreme socializer at http://ekstreme.com/socializer/ This gives access to a multitude of social media sites with just a single link.

  4. says

    Interesting points Andy I was in the process of updating my personal blog, and one of the things I did was to add no follow tags to my social bookmarks which are on every page. While I can see Jim thinks that this is aimed primarily at link farms how else do you describe a “social bookmarking” scheme, The occasional link into the network can only do you some good but why take the risk when you can add no-follow in seconds :)

    You are not gaining any benefit in terms of search engine optimisation by using repeated anchor text based keyword links, which is what the Digg It style links are, and your user doesn’t lose out.

    Cheers Andy keep up the good work.

    Tim

  5. says

    I read that search engines often ignore no follow tags.

    I am quite new to the world of blogging but if google does choose to ignore the no follow tags and follow these links anyway would that still harm your ranking?

  6. says

    @vlad: Because his header is two links to get that effect and he doesn’t want to rank for “ndy beard”.

    just proving that I’m paying attention, Andy. ;)

  7. says

    @Andy, I have posted this question commenting on one of your older posts. I see that you do not “nofollow” the Digg plugin. Until your story is actually submited it does poits to a form, right?

  8. says

    @Jim – I didn’t write the patent, and this is just one interpretation.
    I know lots of blogs that are a nightmare as far as SEO, and yet are a-list and I am sure get a fair about of search traffic with their PR7 and PR8 blogs.
    If you have so much juice flowing in, 100s of links per day, it really doesn’t matter if you waste 80% of it.
    I don’t have that luxury, and I don’t think most of my readers do.
    The rel=”tag” microformat doesn’t require linking through to Technorati, thus you are choosing to do so, linking through to a site full of user generated content, duplicate content, potentially from “splogs”

    @Barry – that option is safe because it is loaded using javascript. It doesn’t give much of a visual clue however, and doesn’t include Bumpzee

    @stubsy Yahoo is the only engine that follows nofollow, and it might still give them a reduced ranking.

    @vlad I replied there as well – the dynamic Digg buttons and for that matter Bumpzee use javascript to load in an iframe – nothing to worry about

    @Tim Thanks for the Digg submission – it might get buried because many might look on this as anti-digg, which it isn’t

  9. says

    Andy said…

    “The rel=”tag” microformat doesn’t require linking through to Technorati, thus you are choosing to do so, linking through to a site full of user generated content, duplicate content, potentially from “splogs”

    My response: So what you’re saying here is that Google perhaps will penalize my blog for linking to Technorati because technorati has splogs in it? I’m confused, not trying to be antagonistic at all.

    If that’s what you’re saying, it doesn’t make sense to me at all. I can’t believe Google would devalue your links into “rati” for that reason, seems wrong.

  10. says

    “In some cases”

    Seems a long shot that one of the cases is having too many links pointing to a site where millions of other links point at.

    By your interpretation any blog that has adsense on it would also be penalized since all the pages point at googlesyndication.com

  11. says

    Jim it is impossible to say, I am interpreting the patent, and Google might be doing something completely different.
    Plus there as “swings and round-a-bouts”, what might be a penalty to one algorithm, is a bonus to another.

    I am pretty sure links to Technorati as discounted as valuable links.
    Technorati has maybe 20x as many incoming links as CNN.com, but I would argue that CNN.com is more authoritive.
    The same is true of Amazon – loads of links, but less authority than cnn.com

    Site explorer shows

    CNN 17million pages linking in
    Amazon 160 million pages linking in
    Technorati 43 million pages linking in

    You have to also bare in mind that most pages linking to Technorati will have 5 or more links on the page.

    Most pages linking to CNN.com would have only one link

    Lots of those CNN links are probably on blogrolls, which also get discounted, so how much are the Technorati links being discounted.

    As I said above

    Google in the same patent mentioned that tagging could be beneficial for the quality of your site, but what of the detrimental effects of linking through to Technorati with 10 links on every post? Maybe you are undoing all the good work of tagging your content.

  12. says

    Mark – I don’t know how Google or other search engines treat links to javascript, but I would hope they handle them universally and don’t treat them as being links.

    Javascript is used for multiple things not just advertising, but widgets, tracking, and more SEO friendly social bookmarking buttons.

    Fortunately lots of it goes in the header, along with links to one or more style sheets. I don’t know if that makes a difference, but search engines certainly do take a peek at the contents of CSS.

  13. says

    Ok Andy, again, I’m not trying to be a jerk, but when I read your headline “Destroy Your Blog Rankings Linking To Digg or Technorati?”

    I think what you’re telling me now in your last comment (it is impossible to say and you’re pretty sure they do), and what your headline portrayed are two different things. That was my issue, and my confusion.

    Again, it’s no big deal, you just confused me. Perhaps the headline was just a bit too overzealous?

  14. says

    I don’t think it was over zealous, if you compare all the factors I have listed.

    I have visited lots of sites where 90% of the links on a page were external links through bookmark links, links to Technorati and more rarely the links to Wikipedia.
    Then again most of the web development blogs I visit tend not to link to Wikipedia, but I visit more general blogs which do link 2 or 3 times for every article they write.

    One of the things you can’t differentiate easily between is lots of spammy links out wasting Google Juice, and lots of spammy links out gaining some kind of penalty.

    Google are supposed to treat everything algorithmically, thus they shouldn’t be manually adjusting things in favour of Technorati, Digg etc.

    Here is another number, the links to

    Wikipedia 58,006,322

    People moan about ranking against Wikipedia a lot more than ranking against Technorati, yet it probably has less actual links.

    Oh and Digg

    Digg 64,679,748

    Digg has more reported links going to it than Wikipedia

    Then there is Del.icio.us

    102,672,992

    Microsoft only has 45,039,744

    You might find my definition of Google Banquet useful
    http://andybeard.eu/2006/11/google-banquet-and-google-feast.html

    • says

      Would be nice if everyone no-followed Wikipedia and it lost its high rankings for some things – many SEOs would have happy clients.

      I guess the same will go for linking to knol now?

  15. says

    Darn. Now you’ve gotten me thinking. I have to say I never thought about the link in the “add me links”. That’s a lot of rel=… to add now. As for tagging – I’d figured that out already and feed my tags to an internal listings area.

  16. says

    Andy Beard, but yet Microsoft and Wikipedia tend to rank higher (in PR) than Technorati and Del.icio.us, meaning their links do seem to count a lot less than the ones to Wikipedia and MS, so I do suppose there is a difference there, being it in an algorithm or manual.

  17. says

    I find it strange that search marketing companies use Technorati tags in their blogs. As Andy points out, you can derive all the benefits of tagging w/o linking out. Why leave links on the table when you don’t have to? Whether it is actually detrimental or not is a matter for conjecture. Keeping tag links on-site is clearly beneficial.

  18. says

    Some of the top SEO sites only use their categories and don’t use tagging to Technorati at all.

    I have slowly been coming to realise that many are not very adaptive in the ways they think about SEO, and many don’t actually link through to alternative ideas.

    I love ranking for things I wouldn’t if I was using conventional SEO techniques.
    That now includes “Volusion” and “shopping cart reviews” (without quotes) which are both money phrases, and a few other sites wrote reviews recently.

  19. says

    Andy – I think this is a good call but possibly will be overused by paranoid bloggers. I doubt any blog would be ‘penalized’ for linking to delicious or any other social bookmarking site on every page.

    However, if a blog linked to testlinkads or other paid links on every page, this may be an indicator of a different kind of site e.g. advertising vs. related information.

    It is definitely worth testing a blog with and without ‘nofollow’ tags on all social outboud links to see which, if any makes a difference in ranking.

  20. says

    Andy, I’m citing you on this post, from within a pdf (the new Stampede Secret to be precise) as this discussion is rich.

    I’m publishing in two days – I know it’s short notice – but if you don’t want me to link to it for any reason, drop me a note and I’ll remove the reference.

    Cheers, Laura

  21. says

    Cvos – it would actually be very hard to setup a test case.
    If you have links, juice flows – it might not harm the ranking of one page significantly, but a whole domain which then no longer benefits from the internal link juice as much.
    What you would have to do is randomly rotate the links to multiple tagging sites, compared to a site which only links to Technorati tag pages.
    There isn’t that many tag spaces available, and of course they would have to be of the same level of authority. Good luck finding 20 PR9 tag spaces to use in your testing (for enough variation)

    Laura – feel free to cite me and link through. I would love a link through to the previous main article as well, because it covers a lot more basic details.

    When it is ready I would love a copy to review, or happy to look it over before you publish to see if I can add anything.

    It should be emphasised that my views are not universally accepted and are based upon my observations which are not clinical tests, and obviously we don’t have access to Google’s algorithms.

  22. says

    Andy, another great post on the subject of links. I have to say that I’ve followed your advice so far and my experience seems to validate everything you’re saying about being judicious with linking.

    Some may take an extreme interpretation of what you’re saying here and discount it out of hand, but the real wisdom of your linking advice is to link in moderation and with consideration of your blog’s goals in mind. Thanks for the post!

  23. says

    Everything in moderation Ray :)

    Take this page as a good example

    As is typical on B and C lister blogs, the blog post hasn’t received a huge amount of incoming link love, though I am glad it has generated some great discussion.

    When the post was first published, even if I had included a few links to 3rd parties, a large proportion of the links on the page go to internal pages, and almost always using a suitable keyword.

    The post has become popular with my readers, lots of comments, and I share some link love using Dofollow.

    I have gained a little link love to the page in various ways, and eventually that juice has to leave my site.

    It is a bit ugly in this incarnation, but that tag cloud that grows just below this post based on the number of comments serves to ensure that other posts and commenters receive a fair share of that juice that flows out – I have no idea how many of the links actually get counted.

    Ultimately the juice does flow out to my readers or the people I link to, and generally isn’t wasted on submission forms.

    I might do things differently for a very tight niche site, and I do experiment a lot. This site is experimental

  24. says

    Ilker, what you can do is just copy the code generated (it is just a bunch of links and icons) and add in the code that creates permalinks on blogger.

    or just use something like addthis.com

  25. says

    hi andy, i just want to know whether you have done any plugins like this or code for blogger users? i am excited to have this up and discuss in my blog and would like to have a link for a code to my bloggers mate.Update me when possible, thanks!

    • says

      Ilker did something for the voting buttons on blogspot, I am not sure if the code was made available but in many ways it looks better than sociable, with a niche rollover effect.

      The subscription buttons are just a list of links and graphics, but with rel=”nofollow” on the links.

  26. says

    Google…. who would have thought that social bookmarking links or references to Wikipedia can harm tour blog/site. I own a car website and i’ve started using social bookmarking to brand it and increase its popularity – I still have quite a few links to social bookmarking sites on my index page, but after reading your post Andy I am seriously thinking of removing them.

    I was wondering if it also works the other way around – do you trigger some sort of filters if you have too many links from wikipedia or digg for example, pointing towards your website. Any advice on that?

    Thanks!

    • says

      Mike, all you have to do is stick nofollow on the links, but you only have the links on your homepage, so it wouldn’t be any potential penalty (and that is only speculation reading a 2 year old patent)

      I would also think of a way to have bookmarks that are specific to each page of content.
      I am not sure which CMS you are using, but there should be a way to have the permalinks added to the submit URL

  27. says

    i thought this was a great article, and i did wonder about the effect of linking out to social bookmarking sites. but does it really matter if you follow comments?

    there is a social bookmarking plugin that has the option to use nofollow on the links, and i think it is more descriptive than sociable which i used to use. the plugin is called “bookmark me”

  28. says

    I’m glad to see you mention the Digg badge. I have used that several times and have have had some GREAT results with it. I strongly recommend everyone use it. Just be sure to use the code so that the title and description defaults. That way you can control the anchor text.

  29. says

    Really good site here Andy. Bookmarking it right away. Was reading on Social Media Marketing on Caroline Middlebrook when your link featured in the comments section and I followed it up. Lots of interesting articles here and very helpful too.

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