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I have a website that contain all user generated content. The users are free to add links to the content. I also provide my users with an about the author column, where they can add links too. All the links in my site are dofollow, as of now.

Is this an SEO threat? There is a strong editor system and people are not allowed to spam, but there are more and more articles and about the author columns coming up with outgoing links.

Nofollowing all external links is an SEO threat, as some users say.

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There should be a way to tag links as user generated content. If Google would just allow such a tag things would be easier... –  Christian Jan 12 at 15:36
    
@Christian right said! –  Rana Prathap Jan 12 at 18:14
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

As long as the number is balanced and the link targets are not spammy sites, then there is no reason to worry about.

However, you may want to add some sort of filter that allows dofollow links only to users with a trusted reputation.

Another alternative is to limit the maximum number of links in a document. You can either set an absolute limit or compute the limit in percentage depending on the article length to make sure the final result is more natural.

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Is there any way to determine whether link targets are spammy sites? Also, there is a possibility that the link targets that are reliable now may turn spammy in the future. It is not possible to check the targets of hundreds of links on a regular basis. –  Rana Prathap Jan 12 at 16:20
    
@RanaPrathap Oh that would be great for spammers if they could just check with Google whether or not their sites were listed as spam and if so they could automatically move on the second this happens. So yeah, with UGC, people will link to shit. The more sophisticated your trust system, the less likely it will be but it will happen and there's ultimately nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. –  Christian Jan 12 at 16:58
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Maybe nofollow can help. It's a quite radical method, but it does the thing you intend - the external links won't affect SEO.

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But I have got writers who writer for my website exclusively because they get dofollow backlinks. Also, there are people who complain that nofollowing all outgoing links dropped their positions. –  Rana Prathap Jan 12 at 17:49
    
Combining mine and Simone Carletti's answer might be good then: create a "whitelist" of authors you trust that may post links without "nofollow" and add the nofollow for all the other authors - so when someone saves an article, it is decided whether there will be a nofollow or not. –  chaosflaws Jan 12 at 17:51
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If they're writing for your website in exchange for links, then that's a bad sign -- Google would generally see that as a link scheme / unnatural links. –  John Mueller Jan 14 at 21:07
    
Bad sign for whom? For them or for me? There are maximum two links per 500 word article, all with proper contextual anchor texts. Are they bad for SEO? The fact that such articles are bring in a lot of search engine traffic for me leaves me confused! –  Rana Prathap Jan 17 at 8:21
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