What are NoFollow links and when should bloggers use them



Discussion about NoFollow links pops up regularly with bloggers and I also have this conversation often with brands that wish to work with me so I wanted to give you a simple break down of how NoFollow links work and why they are important.

Chuck your tech hat on for a minute.

Search engines have robots, known as bots, that land on your page and crawl through your content to figure out what your page is about. Once the bot knows what your page is all about it can then index your page and show it in search results.

When a bot crawls your site content and lands upon a link you have inserted, it follows the link and crawls the linked page as well. Search engines assume that these links are ‘endorsed’ by you as pages that you like or find helpful so they want to crawl and index them as well.

The problem is that there are occasions where you should not be endorsing some of the links on your site and if you do you could be penalised by search engines, like Google, and nobody wants that!

This is where the NoFollow links come in to play.

A NoFollow link is a way that bloggers can tell search engines not to count some of their links to other pages as ‘endorsements’ of that content.

If you are working with brands doing sponsored posts, have affiliate links on your site or publish any kind of content that you are paid for either by money or gift, NoFollow links are something you should be using.

When you are being paid for something that forms part of your blog content and you have follow links in this content, Google has specifically stated that if a link is paid for, it must not “pass page rank,” which means that the link cannot and should not be used to increase the authority of the sponsored site.

Here is a simple breakdown –

When should you use a no follow link:

  • If you are doing a sponsored post, a review or producing any kind of content that you have been paid for and you have inserted the brands links within your content.
  • If you are using affiliate links, or linking to content from your sponsors.
  • If you have sidebar widgets that link to external sites, such as a blog roll.
  • If you are linking to a site that you are not very comfortable with and don’t wish to give it a thumbs up.

What do NoFollow links look like?

They look just like your normal link and will not be visible to your readers. All you are doing is adding in some ‘behind the scenes’ HTML code that your readers cannot see.

What will happen if I don’t use them?

If you don’t use NoFollow links this can discredit your site and makes you run the risk of your site being banned by search engines or appearing much lower on search results.

How do I set up no follow links?

There are a few options you can choose from –

  1. You can install a plugin if you are using WordPress. Ultimate Unfollow adds unfollow options to your blog post editor so that you can simply make the links in each of your posts UnFollow or not.
  2. You can edit the HTML by adding a rel=”nofollow”attribute to the <a>This is not as complicated as it may sound to any newbies out there. Simply:
    1. Add the link into your post how you normally would.
    2. Switch to the HTML mode. In WordPress this is easily done by switching from the ‘Visual’ tab to the ‘Text tab’ which can be found in the top of your post editing window.
    3. Find the link code which should look something like this – <a href=”http://mylink.com”>Brand link</a>
    4. Insert the NoFollow tag by editing the link as follows: <a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://mylink.com”>Brand link</a>
    5. All done!

Tips for working with brands and selling your advertising packages:

  • Be careful about how you sell advertising on your site. If you state that an advertising package includes a link to the future sponsors website, Google looks unfavourably upon this.
  • You are likely to come across brands that want to work with you but on the premise that you do not use NoFollow links when you link to their website and content. Make it clear from the start that you do not do this on your website and will not run the risk of being penalised by search engines.

Need a visual, check out this great infographic from Search Engine Land.



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