Don’t let your lawyer screw your SEO

Written by Tom Greenwood - September 25, 2012

Article read time: 3 minutes

If you are in any way involved in search engine optimisation (SEO), then you’ll without doubt know that one of the most powerful ways of improving your search results is to get other people to link FROM their website TO your website.

It’s like a vote of confidence, telling Google that you’re the kind of respectable brand that they don’t mind being associated with.

So it may come as a surprise that there are loads of companies (many of them big brands) who actually ban you from linking to their website.

That’s right, when they should be desperately hoping that you will link to their site and their SEO teams are probably spending stashes of money trying to attract links, their legal teams have banned you from doing it in their terms and conditions.

This was brought to our attention by SEO guru Malcolm Coles with his latest list of brands that ban you from linking to them.  So we sniffed around the web and were shocked to find how many people are still doing this.

What might also shock you is how many brands have exactly the same terms and conditions.  It makes you think that all these T&C’s probably come from just a handful of lawyers.

Who is banning links to their website?

Here are just a few websites that you are not allowed to link to (including links to their websites):

For any charity, raising awareness is a top priority and so it came as a surprise to us to find out that WaterAid, one of the UK’s largest charities is banning people from linking to it, especially because they are one of our clients.  Whoops!  We’ve asked them to give their legal team a little nudge, and have requested written permission to link to them, but we’re going to link to them anyway because we think they’re a great charity and we want people to visit their website.  Go on, visit their website!  Their T&C’s say “No third party is permitted to link any other website to this website without obtaining the prior written consent of WaterAid.” 

UPDATE: WaterAid have come back and told us that this was an oversight and they will get it removed from their T&C’s.  They have also given us written permission to link to their website.  Hoorah!

It seems that this practice is catching on in the charity sector.

They control the sale of tickets to major events.  Now they control the sites that link to them too.  Their T&C’s say “You also agree not to deep-link to the site for any purpose, unless specifically authorised by Ticketmaster to do so.”

Too cool to need links, UKF music also say “You also agree not to deep-link to the site for any purpose, unless specifically authorised by UKF to do so”

They don’t want you to find out about jobs in Scotland.


Another recruitment site.  Perhaps the lull in the job market is just because people can’t find the recruitment sites.

The company famous for making designer kitchen bins are obsessed with hygiene, so they’re trying to keep their link profile clean.  Guess what they say?  Yep, same again!  “You also agree not to deep-link to the site for any purpose, unless specifically authorized by simplehuman to do so”

Yep, we’re back in Scotland, where apparently they don’t want people to find out about volunteering opportunities either.

Recruiment again!  Do you get the feeling that everyone in this sector got their terms and conditions from the same place?

Clearly the idea is to attract investment, not links.

One of our favourite charities, we are going to blatantly infringe their T&C’s and give them a link anyway because we love them so much!

Break the rules!

It seems that there are a lot of charities that have this rule written into their terms and conditions.  In reality most people don’t read T&C’s, but it still isn’t helping their cause.  If you have a favourite charity, we suggest you go to their website, read their terms and conditions and check that they are not banning links to their site.  If they are, let them know and give them a link from your website.  If they’re not banning links, give them a link anyway and spread the love!