Google's Cutts: Linking To A Few Bad Web Sites Won't Hurt You

May 22, 2012 • 9:24 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

bad linksYesterday, the Google Webmaster Help team posted another video by Matt Cutts - this one was named What happens if I link to a good page that later becomes spammy?

In short, Google's Matt Cutts said, you should not worry about it. He qualifies that by saying that if you link to a ton of bad sites, then yes - it is an issue. But if you have a few bad or dead links then it is not something you should worry about.

Here is the video:

This reminds me of when Ask Jeeves became a porn star. In short, Ask retired Jeeves in 2006 and made a web site for his retirement at They intentionally or un-intentionally did not renew the domain name a couple years later and a really nasty adult site put content on it. Yet, and all these other publications - good sources - linked to the domain name. Those sites did not suffer from linking to this one bad site.

Here is the video transcript:

0:00 SPEAKER 1: Today's question comes from Toronto.
0:03 MrTVTL has a pretty long question: Site A links to Site
0:08 B because Site B has content that would be useful to Site
0:11 A's end users, and Google indexes the appropriate page.
0:15 After the page is indexed, site B's content changes and
0:18 becomes spammy, so does Site A incur a penalty in this case?
0:23 OK, so let's make it concrete.
0:24 Suppose I link to a great site.
0:26 I love it, and so I link to it.
0:28 I think it's good for my users.
0:30 Google finds that page.
0:31 Everybody's happy.
0:32 Users are happy.
0:34 Life is good.
0:35 Except now, that site that I linked to went away.
0:39 It didn't pay its domain registration or whatever, and
0:41 now becomes maybe an expired domain porn site, and it's
0:44 doing some really nasty stuff.
0:46 Am I going to be penalized for that?
0:49 In general, no.
0:50 It's not the sort of thing where just having a few stale
0:52 links that happen to link to spam are going to get you into
0:54 problems. But if a vast majority of your site just
0:58 happens to link to a whole bunch of really spammy porn or
1:01 off-topic stuff, then that can start to affect your site's
1:04 reputation.
1:05 We look at the overall nature of the web, and certain amount
1:09 of links are always going stale, going 404, pointing to
1:13 information that can change or that can become spammy.
1:15 And so it's not the case that just because you have one link
1:18 that happens to go to bad content because the content
1:20 has changed since you made that link, that you're going
1:23 to run into an issue.
1:24 At the same time, we are able to suss out in a lot of ways
1:28 when people are trying to link to abusive or manipulative or
1:32 deceptive or malicious sites.
1:34 So in the general case, I wouldn't
1:37 worry about it at all.
1:38 If you are trying to hide a whole bunch of spammy links,
1:41 then that might be the sort of thing that you
1:42 need to worry about.
1:43 But just a particular site that happened to go bad, and
1:47 you don't know about every single site, and you don't
1:49 re-check every single link on your site, that's not the sort
1:51 of thing that I would worry about.
1:53 Hope that helps.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Image credit to ShutterStock for broken chain

Previous story: Pause Your Ads To Rotate Your Google AdWords Ads


Nick Stamoulis

05/22/2012 01:47 pm

I never thought a few bad links could ruin the rest of your link portfolio. It's when the "bad" links start to become the majority (or at least a noticeable minority) of your back links that site owners need to be be concerned. You can't control what someone does on their site, so even if when you created the outbound link it was a great resource, you don't always know what that page has become.

Sachin Kumar

05/23/2012 05:05 am

I think, Bad website has good traffic and we make few links with that this one definitely hurt our ranking.


05/23/2012 05:47 am

Does it means negative seo works here ?

Ryan DeSort

05/23/2012 04:01 pm

I think this makes perfect sense. Just like in school. You have a 99 tests you got A's on and 1 C. It's not going to matter much in the long run in terms of overall grade.

blog comments powered by Disqus