5 experts demystify SEO link building

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Will I be passing link value to my competitor if I link out to their website?

Rand Fishkin
If you do so without a "no-follow" tag or a JavaScript redirect, technically, you will be passing link value. However, this doesn't stop me from doing it on sites that I control. I think that when a competitor has done something worthy of notice, I get more value and trust from my audience by pointing it out than by staying silent.

Seth Besmertnik
In some cases. Think of a link as an endorsement from one site to another. If you sell computer equipment, would you want to recommend other computer equipment companies to your customers? Probably not. In the event marketers want to link out but not pass authority, the no-follow attribute may be used to signal to search engines that the link does not imply an endorsement.

Debra Mastaler
Yes, unless you stem the flow of link popularity by using an attribute such as no-follow. Link value passes in two ways: algorithmically through the transfer of link popularity and "humanly" through the transfer of trust. 

Algorithmic trust or link popularity passes through links from page to page. When linking out, you pass along some of that link popularity to the destination web page through the link itself. Human trust is shown through the physical act of linking out. While this has no algorithmic effect on your business, it does establish professional goodwill and hopefully a reciprocal link.

Eric Ward
Yes. And while you could no-follow or use several other technical methods to diminish or even eliminate any SEO-related benefit of such links, I think such efforts are a waste of time and energy. There are plenty of sound reasons to link to a competitor's site and stop obsessing over passing link juice to them.

Todd D. Malicoat
Yes. It's probably even a good idea. Unless you're duking it out in a very high competition, low search volume, ultra high value marketplace, it's probably fine. Start a good dialogue with your competitors, and pass them some juice. You can potentially use no-follow links, but that's just bad mojo, in my opinion.

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