Link spam is pretty common, and for that reason Google and other search engines have had to put in some pretty effective anti link-spam measures. I found a post from GoogleGuy over at Search Engine Watch that addresses why a site was penalized. You don’t have to read the whole thread, just GoogleGuy’s post, and you’ll realize that you’ve got to go far beyond analyzing a site for quality content before linking to them.
According to GoogleGuy’s post it would seem that you have to do a full-on site and link analysis of every site that you link out to. Does the average web site owner know enough about how to analyze other sites to determine if they are in fact “bad”?
Most people link to sites based on the quality of their content. Let’s assume we find sites that are all relevant to yours with excellent original content. OK, looks like a great source so we link out to them. But wait! I have not analyzed their code. I haven’t checked out their CSS file, and have not reviewed their “optimization” techniques. I know how to do all that but I can assure you that most don’t.
I can’t say whether its fair or not to institute such penalties. Part of me thinks it is absolutely ridiculous to penalize a site for linking to another site that may be bending the rules, especially when you may not even be aware that it’s happening. For all I know a site I linked out to last year because it was relevant, began spamming this year. Must I go back and analyze the site every month? On the other hand, I fully understand the need for Google to implement such measures.
One of the irrefutable laws of leadership is this:
Those around you determine the level of your success.
The sites you link to can determine the level success your site can achieve on Google.