While most webmasters are playing it safe these days when it comes to linking to random websites in exchange for using banners, buttons and widgets, Creative Commons licensing is a slightly different animal… but one that many are looking at without the suspicion they should be.
During the last Google Webmaster Office Hours, the question came up regarding Creative Commons licensing content. This content – most often seen with photos and other images – requires Creative Commons licensing – essentially a link back to the image creator in exchange for the free use of these images. But fancying up what is essentially a “paid link” by calling it “licensing” has definitely caused some confusion.
John Mueller from Google specifically mentions Creative Commons licensing and recommends only placing the link with nofollow on it.
I think you mean the Creative Commons share by attribution licenses? That’s perfectly fine but it’s not something where you need to require a followed link back to the source. If you want to use a no follow for that, that’s fine, if you just want to attribute that, that’s fine. But essentially if you are providing this trade with content in exchange for a followed link, then that’s kind of the link that we kind of see as being unnatural. It’s not there because someone wants to link to your website and kind of say this is a great website. It’s just that they are kind of in this exchange where you get something and you have to do something back.
Mueller is correct, there is nothing in Creative Commons licensing that requires the link be a followed one. And these types of links have been flagged by Google as being poor quality links.
A visitor to the hangout then asked if Mueller “so you are advocating against specifically making content specifically to grab links from people that use it?” (Yes, really).
I think it’s perfectly fine if people want to link to your website, that’s fine. I think it’s also fine if you want to kind of have attribution for something that you do. But it’s not something where you would require a followed link back. Maybe it’s a nofollow link, maybe something that people can link back in however way they want to. But essentially it shouldn’t be required to be a followed link.
So bottom line, even if you are linking for the feel-good Creative Commons licensing (or you are requiring it for your own content), you should always be nofollowing the links.
Here is the full video.
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