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I recently obtained a customer who runs an adult based nightclub, and built a website for them which has a very large amount of organic traffic from Google.

I would like to link from this website to my own to gain exposure, however would doing so negatively affect my search engine rankings?

The customer's website has adult based backlinks pointing to it from before I re-designed and developed it. Would rel="nofollow" be suitable protection, or is it best to avoid linking back all together?

This is the first time working with a customer in this industry, there is a lot to gain in organic exposure from having a link on their site, but I don't want to drop down my current Google rankings.

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I believe that the traffic Google sends to a website is completely correlated to the types of links it has and what types of websites are linking to it. It can also have an effect on what type of pages and URLs Googlebot is willing to crawl. If your website has links from adult websites, then Googlebot will want to prioritize your website URLs that are related to adult content over other types of content.

As @Igor pointed out in his answer, if 1 adult website link were to terribly tarnish domain authority then competitors could buy links from adult websites to negatively affect others. However, it should be noted that it actually has been a successful black hat SEO tactic for websites to buy "bad" links from many websites all pointing to one of their competitors. This has caused their competitor to derank from Google's search results.

The official stance might be that a bad link from one website might not hurt your site. And in fact it might not. But because bad links have actually hurt many websites in the past, it would be unfair to rule out the potential consequences. The link could also help you if the adult website has strong domain authority and good clientele coming to your website as a result.

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Nothing bad will happen to your website if you get a link from one adult-themed website. If that was the case I would make one just so I could link to my competitors.

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