Attributes That Devalue a link in Google Algorithm

This absurd attack by phil on Tim O’Reilly ignited silly debates everywhere but helped confirm this informational gem:

[Google engineer Matt Cutts] also stated that he had been aware of O’Reilly’s link sales for some time, and that “parts of,, etc. have not been trusted in terms of linkage for months and months.” Further, that “just because a site shows up for a ‘link:’ command on Google does not mean that it passes PageRank, reputation, or anchortext.”

We have noticed for some time that neither Blogrolls nor text ad links have the “throw” in Google that other types of links have.

It would be “Un-Google-like” to try to manually weed out ads. To return the most relevant results, Google engineers have decided to change the Google algorithm to focus on links that appear to speak to a specific subject matter and discount links that appear to be ads or only for SEO.

The Google algorithm probably devalues outbound links for:

1. Being inside <div>, <p>, <span> or any tag class with a name that commonly implies less importance to subject matter: These classes would include”secondary” “sidebar” “footer” “blogroll” “links” “sponsors” and even “noindex” (seen on’s page source)

For Example:

<p class="secondary">This <a href="”> Example Link</a> would get less weight.</p>

because of the p class= secondary.

2. Close Proximity to text that implies the link is not germane to the subject matter. These words include: Sponsored, sponsor, link, blogroll, supported by, ads, advertisement, check out, and Affiliate.

3. Being one of
a list
of links
that isn’t
separated by normal text.

4. Being clearly generated by a JavaScript (instead, use server side includes).

5. Link rel=”nofollow’ (obvious)

6. Being on a “Links” or “Directory” page

7. Being a site-wide link (every page of website has the same outbound link)

8. Target URL having “Ref=” or “affID=” or any non Search engine friendly URL.

If anyone has observations to add to the above list, please chime in.

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10 Responses to “Attributes That Devalue a link in Google Algorithm”

  1. hermen shermen says:

    it’s not getting any easier is it?

    but this is very interesting … i’ve actually been working on a directory model that instead of selling text links, charges more for a “page” on the company in particular … then charging a premium rate.

  2. Tim Yang says:

    Waitaminute… all links in divs and paragraphs are devalued? But that would mean… shudder… Google loves table layouts! Gulp!

  3. QuadsZilla says:

    Thanks for the heads up: my original post was a little confusing. Not all divs and paragraphs are devalued, only ones with class types similar to the ones listed in the post.

    I have amended the post in green to include an example of the tag class html I was referring to.

  4. […] An interesting post by Quadszilla on his blog about Google valueing certain kinds of links less. Google is smarter than most people think. […]

  5. Jesse says:

    I don’t agree with some of this. I am not sure if google deems all those links unimportant. This last year it has been frustrating as Google does just about everything it can to twist SEO work into a big guessing game.

  6. SEOGirl says:

    I couldn’t agree with Jesse more. It’s been a frustrating year and for this reason alone I decided that learnig a little black hat wasn’t such a bad gig after all.

  7. Frakkle says:

    SEOGirl – Exactly! Not much more to be said…

    Trackback :Reduced value of some Links in Google

  8. tpiddy says:

    do you think google reads the div/span class ids, and looks for terms such as left, right, side, etc?

  9. I heard rumors that now google gives more value to the links surrounded by content related to the link title. Is this true?

  10. Money Market says:

    I don’t think Google is going to try and guess the importance of links based on class names – but there is evidence that adsense ads are affected by the keywords in classes:

    “Back when I was using a ColdFusion blog system (before I changed over to WordPress), it used the word “blog” in nearly all the css classes. Hence, i ended up getting tons of blog-related adsense ads. I changed those classes to use my keywords instead, and boom!, i got related adsense ads.” –