I belong to several Facebook groups, where I try to help, as much as I can. The one question that seems to pop up repeatedly is about the do-follow vs. the no-follow link.
There is a lot of confusion about these links such as if you should make every link no-follow or if you must have some do-follow links, etc. I have seen bloggers wonder if they must no-follow every guest post or if it is only affiliate links.
I remember being in your shoes and being lost about these links. In fact, I never used a single no-follow link for years! YIKES!! But, like many of you, I had no idea. To be blunt, I was rather clueless.
But, as I learned more and more about blogging, I became educated on the do-follow vs. the no-follow link. It makes sense to me, and I never have a doubt about which one to use and when.
We’ve already talked about the legal disclosures you need on your site, but now you need to understand the difference between these two types of links.
While there is not a lot you need to know, you do need to understand what these are, when to use them and why you need to.
What is the difference?
The difference between these two types of links is:
- Do-Follow: You are telling Google that this is a good site and you are giving them your authority and telling them to look at this as a quality back-link from your site to theirs. This can give you both a boost in SEO (search engine optimization).
- No-Follow: You are telling Google to ignore this link when building authority. It should never be considered in either page’s SEO.
When do you use do-follow vs. no-follow?
This is simple. If money – or the potential of money – will be given to you because of placing that link, it must be no-follow.
If you make any money at all, then you absolutely must make your link no-follow. No exception.
Why does this matter?
Internal and external links are part of building authority on Google. It is important to have links on your site that link to other internal content. It is as equally important to link to other pages. When you do this, it establishes your site and those you link to, as authorities. That is why you want sites to link to you – to build authority.
However, the authority must be natural and organic. It cannot be purchased. When you are paid to add a link to your site, for any reason, that is deemed as buying a link. The company or individual is paying for placement on your site. That is not allowed at all by Google.
It is acceptable for bloggers to use links to make money, but you must let Google know. By using the no-follow link, you are saying to them – “Hey, I don’t want you to think I am paying to put this link here, so just ignore it for both of our sites. Thanks!”
That way, neither you nor the site you link to, are penalized by Google for placement. No-follow links do not hurt you, but not using them properly can.
That is not good either. As stated above, you need a good mix of both internal and external links on your site. Since the no-follow code tells Google to ignore the link, you would be telling Google to ignore every link on your site. You would have absolutely no internal or external links. You’d be committing SEO suicide.
Make sure you have a good balance of both incoming and outgoing links to ensure you have a healthy site.
To make any link you create no-follow, just add in one small snippet of code to the link: rel=”nofollow”. That’s it. That means, your link will change from:
<a href=”linkIwaspaidfor” target=”_blank”>COMPANY NAME</a>
<a href=”linkIwaspaidfor” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>COMPANY NAME</a>
If you use WordPress, there is additional code, noopener, included. This has to do with the way others can open your site. Without it, the other page can access your window object via window.opener. So please, do not remove this. Instead, nest the nofollow code within the link as follows:
<a href=”linkIwaspaidfor” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>COMPANY NAME</a>
<a href=”linkIwaspaidfor” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow“>COMPANY NAME</a>
While you can find plug-ins to use on your site to do this, I highly advise against that. If your plug-in fails or no longer works, your links no longer have the code. It is better to take an extra second and manually add the code to your link, rather than use a plug-in.
To ensure you don’t forget to include those no-follow links, let’s go into more detail about the types of posts and content on which these are required.
Affiliate links. Affiliate marketing is one way bloggers make money. While you did not yet receive money for the link, there is a potential there. You stand to make money because of the link. Therefore, you must disclose that relationship by using a no-follow link.
The only exception to using no-follow is on Amazon links. When you use those, Google knows that they are from Google and disavows, or ignores them. That means, they already know about that link and will not consider that when looking at inbound and outbound links.
Sponsored posts. If you are writing a post for a brand, company or individual, then any external links to their content must include the no-follow disclosure. Since you were paid for placement, that would be deemed as buying links. Therefore, every single link on a sponsored-post must be no-followed.
Paid links. While I do not offer paid links on my sidebar or in posts, some bloggers will. This is fine, but make sure that these links are also coded as no-follow. Again, they paid to get that link on your content, so you must make sure the link is no-follow.
Badges/Icons. This is one that many bloggers are not aware of. Many sites and programs offer banners or badges you can place on your page to show you are a member. When Google sees many of these, they sometimes are flagged as paid links.
For example, if you are a member of the IZEA network, you get paid for placing articles on your site. Yes, those links are all no-followed, but since IZEA is a way for you to make money, it can lead to potential issues. If you display their button or banner on your site, it could lead to issues as there is a monetary relationship between the two of you. Google can flag your site.
There have also been instances of bloggers exchanging link buttons with others. Google looks at these as un-natural and flags them. Those links are there to send people to another site, so even though you did not receive money for placement, it can often hurt you.
One other thing that people do not realize is that blogger chain letters do this as well. These are the email you get that someone has nominated you as the better mommy blogger of the week (for example) and they want you to tell the world and give you a link to put on your site. When others are all adding the same link to the same site, it starts to look unnatural and all blogs could get caught up in a link baiting issue (this has happened to bloggers in the past). If you want to do these, make sure you no-follow the link (but to be blunt, delete the email and move on as it means really nothing).
To play it safe, just add in the no-follow code to any badges or icons you place on your site.
Must You No-Follow When You Pay for Content?
This was a question that came up in our Facebook Group recently. If you are paying for a post to add to your site via a freelance writer or VA, you do not need to make that link no-follow.
There you go! A simple explanation of do-follow vs. no-follow and what you need to know. Hopefully, you can now keep on blogging and make sure you comply when it comes to those links.