11

I am just wondering if it is a good practice to hide external links from search engines?

What I mean is like that I have tons of MediaFire and Google Drive links (15,000 exactly)and I have a WordPress plug-in that can hide the link and make it look like: example.com/go/1AS34b.

If I use a link redirect, is it a good for SEO? Or should I keep the original MediaFire and Google Drive links?

  • 14
    It's not a good SEO practice to cloak anything. – Harper Apr 17 '17 at 4:37
  • 1
    The kinds of tricks some SEO "gurus" were teaching years ago will probably all get you penalized. Search engines are not (that) stupid, and they keep up to date with such tricks and update their ranking algorithms constantly to filter out such abuse – vsz Apr 17 '17 at 10:39
  • I've removed "cloaking" from the question. Cloaking is the practice of showing different things to users than what search engines see. Using a link redirect script is not actually cloaking as both users and search engines see the same links. – Stephen Ostermiller Apr 17 '17 at 14:36
9

What you propose could be argued as blackhat SEO which can find your ranking negatively affected. At no times should pages or links be cloaked in any way. If you are wanting to prevent ranking passing on to the links then you can add the rel="nofollow" attribute to the links to ensure that they are not followed through to the destination site. If however you do want the link juice to carry on to the destination site then there is no need to do anything and there is no need to cloak the links through a forwarder.

Edit #1: A re-read of your question after @Stephen Ostermiller's edit clarrifies that you are not actually trying to cloak anything and are simply trying to redirect URL's which is not considered cloaking at all. Best practice is to ensure that the correct 301 redirect header is sent to ensure that any potential ranking signals are sent through for he destination file but that depends on if you want ranking for those files or not.

  • 1
    but google itself cloaks links... it's penalizing all sites for doing what google itself does.. isn't that a bit "hypocrite"-ish? Or doesn't replace link javascript on click count as cloaking? – Gizmo Apr 17 '17 at 11:31
  • 1
    Google does this slightly differently, they do it to track which links are clicked through to for ranking reasons but as the Google search results page isn't itself crawled or indexed so it isn't quite the same as the cloaking has no effect at all on indexing from the SERP. – Chris Rutherfurd Apr 17 '17 at 11:54
  • I've edited the question and I removed "cloaking". It appears they actually want to use a redirect script which is not cloaking, nor would it be blackhat. – Stephen Ostermiller Apr 17 '17 at 14:37
2

I think that the safest would be the add a "rel=nofollow" to your cloaked mediafire links if you want to cloak them. How do i know it? This is what happens with many youtube webpages where people add links to sell something in their descriptions under their youtube videos. They are all nofollow and they are often cloaked.

2

You should use a link redirect script for any of the following:

  • You want to track the clicks in your server logs
  • Search engines don't want to see the links because they are paid
  • You don't want the sites you are linking to to rank better because you link to them

Link redirectors are most commonly used for advertising. In that case tracking is essential for payments and Google requires that the links not pass Pagerank. Link redirector scripts are not the only method that can be used in this case. using rel=nofollow on the links prevents pagerank passing and clicks can be tracked using JavaScript and analytics packages.

If you are linking to a competitor, you could consider using a redirector script or rel=nofollow.

Beyond these use cases, I see little value in redirector scripts. They won't conserve link juice on your site. Google's Pagerank algorithm now drops link value equally for plain links, nofollow links, and links blocked by robots.txt

MediaFire and Google drive links are fine to let search engines crawl. They are not sponsored, and having the links on your site won't hurt your rankings in any way.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.