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My wife is a writer and often has pieces published on other sites. The articles usually list a short bio and her blog URL but never seem to anchor link to her blog. They will write www.blogtitle.com in the bio but only as plain text. My question is does this count as a backlink to Google for SEO purposes? I'm guessing it doesn't so I've been trying to convince her to request a proper link back to her blog.

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You can read this article prensenting a test on what you're talking about. –  Zistoloen Mar 7 at 16:47

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No, according to Matt Cutts (the Google alter ego) the url text with no link it does not count as link.

I think the undesirable fashion of using text url instead of links might be caused by Google nofollow policy. Basically those articles once would have probably added a nofollow link to your wife's blog because nofollow links apparently did not leak out link juice. Once Matt Cutts explained that nofollow links do still leak out juice, many eager webmasters got scared to loose a tiny, tiny bit of juice and started to use text url instead of adding links.

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Thanks a lot for the links and info. I get the logic but I always understood external inking to be a positive thing if the link sources are legit. I thought it was a case of being mutually beneficial to both sites. Can I make a case somehow for a proper backlink been a benefit to the publishing site? –  lustandfury Mar 7 at 16:46
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@lustandfury: I agree with you, it's nonsense, but eventually some webmasters think their site will move down in SERPs if they waste a puny bit of juice. IMHO it might be the opposite: relevant outbound links can help your visitors and improve your reputation, Google's 1st quality guideline is "Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines." support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en Would you say that a site with no outbound links is made for users?! :-) –  Marco Demaio Mar 7 at 17:08
    
Yeah that's exactly my thinking. In the end whoever is the webmaster for these publishing sites is callin gthe shots on this as I'm guessing they're the ones with any understanding of the process. I'm going to get her to send an email to request it and see what comes of it. It's something I'm considering asking here to discuss in any contracts going further. Thanks again for all the useful info. Much appreciated. –  lustandfury Mar 7 at 19:16

Does it count as a backlink? No. But not all is lost. These are citations and count nearly as much as a link some say. I am skeptical, however, I have seen citations work positively. In fact, any link created on another site may end up being no-follow anyway which is treated differently. Please do understand that no-follow does not mean no-follow (from a spider's perspective) if the target site is known to Google or becomes known to Google via other means and that the target page is not restricted in the robots.txt file. No-follow is meant to be a protocol to prevent blog, forum, and comment sites from becoming targets of abuse.

The upshot? While it is not necessary to create links in the case that you described, it does help and it will count more. There is no significant harm if the old citations are not updated to links. But if you can edit them, I would. Should you create links from this point forward? Yes. Absolutely.

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Thanks for this. Basically she would have to request the publishing site (an online magazine most often) create a hyperlink to her blog. The issue for me is that the pay for these gigs is minimal at best so in order to help her own blog's SEO a backlink would really help. It's the one thing that's lacking after 2 years of pretty heavy blogging. The non-linked url seems to be standard practice. –  lustandfury Mar 7 at 17:20
    
Your are right about citations vs. links in blogs when you are guest blogger. However, there are sites that do create links and perhaps she should look for popular blogs that will link to her blog in the byline. Still, Google will count the citations and will reward her hard work even if there is little direct traffic driven as a result of these citations. Somewhere along the line, her blog should take off too. Be sure to add 10%-40% new content each year and do good SEO work. That alone should drive traffic. –  closetnoc Mar 7 at 17:32
    
Yeah the SEO aspect is what I've been focusing on recently after doing a major redesign. She blogs pretty heavily, not sure how she finds the energy, so the content is there. Just trying to expand on the backlinks as all the SEO reports I've run point to it as a weak spot. Thanks for all the info! –  lustandfury Mar 7 at 19:13
    
Backlinks are important. Rock and roll on them but make sure they are coming from quality sites that already have SEO juice to share. Otherwise the time may account for nothing. –  closetnoc Mar 7 at 19:22
    
@closetnoc: you say "These are citations and count nearly as much as a link according to Google", where did you read this? Any references? –  Marco Demaio Mar 8 at 19:05

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