Google Scares Webmasters Even When Linking To Charity Sites

Dec 9, 2013 • 8:54 am | comments (17) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

donateEarlier this year, we covered how publishers are afraid to link out and how it has become a problem for the savvy webmaster community.

A new thread at WebmasterWorld started over the weekend, with one webmaster saying how he was touched by Paul Walker's death and his contributions to the world when he was alive.

Because of all that Paul Walker did, he wanted to do his little part and add a link to his charity site. But before doing so, he asked if he would get dinged or would it hurt his Google rankings and his business if he linked to a charity site. And more importantly, he asked if it would hurt the charity site if he linked to it and didn't nofollow his link.

He wrote:

I've decided that the VERY least I can do is link to his charitable foundation from the footer of my sites, a simple "please donate to" sort of thing and that's presenting a bit of a problem.

Google, while I don't particularly care if they lie it or not the reality is that a footer link to a charitable trust makes my site seem like a template and the last thing I want is for that to be held against the charity site, and to a lesser extent my own.

Is it safe (according to Google algorithms) to link to a charity site from your pages in 2013/2014.

It is amazing we live in a web world that has to ask questions like this.

Most of the responses are to nofollow the link. But why? It is not a paid link? It is a link out of true giving and without anything wanted in return.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for donate image

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12/09/2013 02:01 pm

Google controls by fear. Sticking your head in the sand is the best way to survive.

Eric Ward

12/09/2013 02:34 pm

I'm pretty vocal on my views about why it's important to play by Google's rules, but I have to be candid here. Charities are one area where I do what I want, and the heck with the engines. For example, I have a deaf son, so I link out to pediatric hearing loss charities. This has nothing to do with algos, it's about my belief if the cause. I also have linked out to charity sites for victims of the Gulf oil spill, which affected me and friends both personally and financially. Again, I did this to be helpful, not to rank. I realize Google likely has no way to divine my intent in linking to these charities, and could potentially ding me, but I don't care. The causes and helping others are more important than any algorithm for me, and the web is bigger than Google. So this is a case where I do not abide by my own best practices, because I believe the cause natters more than any potential damage to the search position of my site.

Krystian Szastok

12/09/2013 02:40 pm

I totally agree Eric. I think is important to remember that web is indeed bigger than Google. Wait - at the end of that you say 'this is a case where I do not abide by my own best practices' - does this mean you'd usually nofollow any link you give someone?


12/09/2013 03:43 pm

The person that wants to link to a charity has legitimate concern. I recall where Google listed an unnatural link in someone's webmaster tools account that pointed to some save the forest through furniture recycling promotion. It's so sad that during the holidays Google has scared people into linking to charities. I wonder how much money charities will lose because of less recognition online?


12/09/2013 03:43 pm

It's also an easy way to get sand crabs!


12/09/2013 06:13 pm

because google gone insane. they penalize everybody for anything. Just check link profile of any big top ranked site and you will hysterically laughing when will see their google counted links.


12/09/2013 06:14 pm

it easy: google is unnatural "something search" engine now.


12/09/2013 06:17 pm

victims of google. nofollow is unnatural thing. It not described at any RFC and not a web standard. I still unable to believe, how near perfect world largest company (xxxx-2012) become a world dictator, police, business destroyer, liar, and even evil in one face.

Durant Imboden

12/09/2013 06:53 pm

Google didn't scare this guy. The guy scared himself: He thought he saw Chicken Little and worried that the sky might fall.

Michael Martinez

12/09/2013 10:34 pm

"Most of the responses are to nofollow the link." Not much has changed at Webmaster World, has it? :rolleyes:

Eric Ward

12/09/2013 10:54 pm

What I was referring to when I mentioned not abiding by my own best practices is that in general I don't like the way people have tried to manipulate search rank by joining associations or charities just for the link. In my case, I am aware that because my site is 18 years old and has a clean history, it is conceivable that my links to those charities might help them in ways other than just on-site publicity. But I'm not going to nofollow them to stop that from happening.

Alex Polonsky

12/09/2013 11:38 pm

I don't understand what the problem is. If he didn't get paid for the link, he should go ahead and post it up. If he's worried, make it nofollow.

Jitendra Vaswani

12/10/2013 05:15 am

I agree not much has changes.


12/10/2013 12:50 pm

Perfect example of how Google have gone the wrong way about fixing the issue. Webmasters should not feel to scared to link to such a cause through fear of it effecting sites negatively. The sooner Google stop acting like they own the whole internet the better. We were always told to build sites for visitors, not search engines, we were always told we should not do things simply because it pleases search engines, ect. Yet in a case like this we are unable to do the right thing due to Google and it's new rules of nobody is allowed to link to anybody without the risk of being slapped with a penalty whether the link was paid for or not, whether its relevant or not. Whether its useful for visitors or not.


12/10/2013 01:01 pm

This doesn't need no-following since it's editorial in nature rather than advertorial. Guidelines state (usually without contradiction, but I'm sure someone will find an example) that editorial links are allowed and do not have to be no-followed. It would be better not to no-follow the link, since the charity 'deserves' the link-juice (don't cringe at the term) which might be ascertained through this action. Only undeserving or advertorial links should be no-followed.

Sundeep Reddy

12/10/2013 01:08 pm

A simple Nofollow will do... anyways he mentioned that he's doing it to raise funds and for no other what's all the fuss about Google and their ways of approach towards fighting spam...Nofollow is there for a reason... #GoogleFanBoy ;)


12/10/2013 02:17 pm

There were other posts there that were far more critical of Google, but they were deleted. At least one of the moderators there acknowledged he owns shares of Google, and one must question how a moderator's bias is used to shape or redirect debate. This is why I don't think Webmaster World is a good community - open discussion is thwarted by moderator's financial ties to Google.

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