Google’s John Mueller participated in an interesting conversation on Mastodon about linking between sites that are different languages and whether or not that may impact rankings.
The person asking the question was afraid that receiving links from a non-English language site to their English language site might negatively affect that sites ability to rank.
There is a belief that linking from a site from another language might affect the English language websites ability to rank geographically in English speaking countries.
The original poster wrote:
“Hi @johnmu I had a question.
We have several non-English language websites and we want to help our English website rank better.
Can linking from non-English sites help the English site with its pagerank and ranking?”
John Mueller reasonably assumed that the person asking the question was talking about linking their own non-English versions to their own English language websites.
So that’s the context of John’s first answer, a context that changed twice as the conversation progressed.
John’s initial response:
“@shahram Regardless of ranking, cross-linking language versions is generally a good idea.”
Are Paid Non-English Language Links Okay for English Language Websites?
The person asking the question next mentioned that these links were coming from paid blog networks, which caused the context of the question to change by a considerable margin.
They mentioned that the links were coming from a private blog network (PBN).
A Private Blog Network is a way to reference a Paid Blog Network. Everyone knows what it is but they still call it a private network, presumably because it’s secret.
The person asking the question followed up:
“@johnmu If I want to pay for this, is it still a good idea?
Buy from PBNs in different languages?”
John Mueller, of course, offered a predictable answer.
“@shahram Oh, it’s more about other people’s sites? Paid links are link spam, and against the search spam policies.
If it’s just about links between versions of your own content, that’s something you can control without payment or anything equivalent.”
Naturally Acquired Paid Links In Different Language
The person asking the question changed the context of the question again and mentioned that they weren’t buying the links from the PBNs.
They insisted that the link were acquired without any payment on their side, that they were acquired naturally.
That’s not as far-fetched as it may sound.
It’s an extremely common practice for paid link sellers to link to two relevant webpages plus the one link that’s paid.
Sometimes it’s one internal link, one external link and one link to the paying client.
For some reason it’s almost always three links, one of those rote practices that everyone does.
The point however is that there’s a belief that linking out to a normal site will help the Paid Blog Network website look natural and maybe the site of the person asking the question is one of those.
The person wanted to know if they should disavow the links from the non-English language shady websites.
John Mueller responded:
“@shahram There’s no reason to disavow links just because the linking website is in another language.
They’re not bad links due to the language of the page.
For some reason, this remains a somewhat common myth.”
Links From Different Languages Are Okay
John Mueller confirmed that links from sites written in a different language are not bad. He also called it a myth that those links could have a negative effect.
As is customary with certain kinds of questions, he didn’t affirm if there was any kind of ranking related benefit.
He didn’t say that those links were good for ranking. John clearly made the context of his first answer outside of the context of ranking with the phrase, “Regardless of ranking…”
“Regardless of ranking, cross-linking language versions is generally a good idea.”
That said, I have heard, for a number of years, that links from sites in other languages work, that may have changed, I don’t know.
I’ve never tested that out.
It does make sense that a link from a different language would not be bad because that sort of thing happens naturally.
Google tends to not let naturally occurring patterns negatively affect rankings.
An example of a naturally occurring linking pattern is the reciprocal link, where two sites link to each other.
Read the original Mastodon discussion:
Featured image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero