Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Blogger Help - What are no-follow links and when should you use them?

I think tonights #fblchat has seriously confused some people, there's been lots of talk of 'follow' and 'no follow' links and the consequences of not using the right one in your blog posts. 

What is a follow link?
This is a link which google will use to help push a certain website up the search page rankings, lots of links from high authority sites will push websites up the rankings when certain search terms are used. These are the most valuable when companies are trying to improve their SEO.

What is a no-follow link? 
Adding this attribute to a link will make Google ignore it when it's 'crawling' websites for information which influences where websites are in the search page rankings. These are pretty much useless from an SEO point of view because they do nothing to push a website onto the first page of Google. 

When should you use 'no follow' links?
If you are sent a sample, something for free or you are paid to write a post/publish a guest post you must add any links to the companies pages 'no follow'.

Why do you have to use 'no follow links'?
Because Google does not like 'spam' links, and although your none of your links are 'spam' in the sense we would generally associate with the word, they are put there under influence of payment or compensation. Because of this, Google see these as unreliable and they do not want their users to use sites who have basically paid for their site to be at the top of the search pages. Google like organic links, which you have chosen to put their because you've bought something from the brand or experienced something off your own back and you can wholeheartedly support it.... without needing to be paid or compensated to do so.

What happens if you don't use the 'no follow' attribute when you should?
You (and the brand in question) risk having your site wiped completely off the google search pages. This has happened with companies such as Interflora and Music Magpie who paid bloggers to write posts and add followed links. This creates a massive influx of new links next time Google does a crawl and looks very suspicious to them, which is why they investigated and penalised the offending brands. 

How do I add the 'no follow' attribute to a link?
If you are using blogger, when you add a link using the little link button a box comes up, you need to tick the 'add no follow attribute' box so it looks like this:

Alternatively, if you want to use HTML this is the piece of coding you need to use:

ANCHOR TEXT HERE

What do you say if someone emails asking you to add a followed link?
Politely decline and explain why, using examples like Music Magpie and Interflora, it should make them think twice!

Should you be panicking right now?
Not too much but Google does crawls periodically, so you should change all necessary links to 'no follow' as soon as you can really... a pain in the bum but it can save you a lot of SEO heartache!

If you have any more questions please feel free to ask in the comments :)
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8 comments

  1. I'd noticed when searching for Music Magpie that their site didn't appear! And had seen many bloggers posts using their links so put two and two together - just shows how it can affect the biggest businesses so what's it to stop them taking your blog off too. Not worth the risk! I'm guessing many companies that pick 'newer' bloggers because they hope to get around regulations from their lack of knowledge xx
    www.LaurasHaven.com

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    1. I know it's happened to one blogger for definite... I don't think people should 'panic' as such I think it's just a wise idea to watch what links you include! xx

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  2. This is incredibly helpful thank you! I've never even thought about it before but will be doing that from now on. xx

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  3. This is a really great post. I think I've finally come to terms with the rules and regulations now, but this has confirmed it nicely :) X

    www.justrach.com xo

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  4. This is definitely helpful - but it's worth noting that not every single 'freebie' link needs to be nofollowed. Google generally tracks for unnatural links, so if you're genuinely writing about a product that fits your content and isn't a random link to somewhere on the company's site then it's (for the most part) fine.
    And, if you have no form of disclaimer, Google generally doesn't pick up that it's a sponsored/freebie link. They are becoming increasingly strict with stuff like this, but it's worth having a thorough think about personal disclosure and how you write in a link.
    It won't hinder you by putting everything as nofollow, but definitely won't help you either in terms of ranking, so try to only do it where really necessary :)

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  5. I've just recently done a SEO and PR post so I'm definitely going to link back to this, incredibly helpful yet easy to understand! :)
    www.shemightbeloved.com x

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  6. Wow what a shocker, Google is just too smart! You'll be surprised how many bloggers (and sadly brands) still have no idea about all.. a very useful article ;-) xo

    Aliona | www.fromalionawithlove.com

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