What is "NoFollow" and When Do I Need It? - Smart Creative Social
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What is “NoFollow” and When Do I Need It?

If you run in circles with bloggers who get paid to blog, you’ve probably heard the term “nofollow” or “no follow back” used when talking about sponsored posts. What is “NoFollow” and when do I need it?

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As a blogger, you mark outbound links as “nofollow” when you’re being paid to link to another company. This tells the crawlers from Google and other search engines NOT to count that link when determining the legitimacy and relevancy of your post to the link.

For example, if I posted about how much I love Starbuck’s, I would post my link as-is, without a “nofollow” tag. This is how links are shown in your site’s code, by default:

without nofollow

But if Starbuck’s (or a network or PR company on their behalf) paid me to post about their product I would need to make sure any links they requested that I provide were tagged as “nofollow”. If I wasn’t working for them but I posted affiliate links to their products, I would also need to add a “nofollow” tag to the links. “Nofollow” tagged links look like this in the code of a blog post:

This is what a "nofollow" tag looks like in your blog post's code.

My sites relationship with a link I was paid to include is viewed as “unnatural” but search engines.  In the past, people exchanged links for links or links for money in an effort to increase their search engine ranking because search engines like when sites link to other relevant sites. Since then, search engines caught on to this and have made rules to help them figure if links in your post are there organically or unnaturally (you were paid or compensated in exchange for putting the links in the post). A “nofollow” tag tells the search engine that the link is not organic so they should skip counting that link in their evaluation of the website and page. If a search engine figures out that you are being paid to post links (which is essentially how they look at sponsored posts and affiliate links) and not tagging them as “nofollow” then your site can be pushed down in the search engine rankings or removed from search results altogether for not properly tagging those links as “no follow”.

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Here’s the key points you need to know about follow and nofollow links:

  • Were you asked my someone to include the link in your post? Mark the link as NOFOLLOW
  • Were you compensated with money or product or a service in exchange for posting the link? Mark the link as NOFOLLOW
  • Can you potentially be compensated in exchange for posting the link, for example, you’ll make a commission IF sales from an affiliate link occur? Mark the link as NOFOLLOW
  • Get the word from the search engines themselves – Google’s Quality Guidelines in regards to Link Schemes

If a sponsor asks you to post a “do follow” link in your post, be very wary. This is a shady practice that I see sponsors ask for and it can be very tempting when they dangle money in front of you. Sponsors who ask for this upfront know that it is wrong and they know that you are the one 100% at risk when you add a do follow link for sponsored content.

Here’s a quick vid on how to add “nofollow” tags to your links:

 

I no longer recommend using a plugin to automatically add “nofollow” tags to your links for the following reasons:

  • Plugins can be buggy and might not work all of the time
  • If you ever decide to drop the plugin, all of your “nofollow” links could become “dofollow” or drop the “nofollow” attribute. You’ll then need to go in and manually code all of the links as “nofollow” anyways.

A best practice is to manually code the links as “nofollow” as you drop them into your posts and save yourself any future hassle. You can check your work by using the Chrome NoFollow Extension. It will outline the nofollow links on ANY site with a red box so you can see if your links are all properly coded. Here’s what it looks like in action, on this sponsored post from Just JP:

RMW---Use-Chrome-NoFollow-Extension-to-check-that-your-links-are-coded-as-nofollow

I check all of my sponsored posts and posts with affiliate links using this tool – it has helped me so much because I always miss coding ONE link as “nofollow”. You don’t want the sponsor to email you about editing a silly mistake like that! If you have your photos linked to affiliate or sponsor links, this Chrome extension will pick that up too if they are coded as “nofollow”.  You can see in the image above how my linked photo is outlined in red because the extension has picked it up as having a “nofollow” tag.

Are you using “nofollow” links now? If not, do you plan to start using them on your blog? Let me know in the comments!

rmw 2016

 

About the Author Jennifer Priest

A craft industry professional for over 14 years, Jennifer Priest has been featured in major publications and online by the likes of Apartment Therapy and MSNBC. Jennifer's digital marketing consulting firm, Smart Creative Social, has a prestigious client list in the craft and hobby industry, connecting influencers with brands, developing digital marketing strategy, and guiding clients in creating a solid social media strategy for their brand.

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5 comments
16 Reasons to go to SoFabUOTR says February 16, 2015

[…] What is “No Follow” and When Do I Need It? […]

Reply
Angelica Suarez says March 26, 2015

Jennifer – great post! I’ll admit I had never truly understood “no-follow” links, and I’ve been blogging for over 10 years! Good stuff to know. Thanks!

Reply
    Jennifer Priest says March 27, 2015

    Yay! Yeah, they were super confusing to me too and all the info I could find about them was confusing tech speak. Glad you found this helpful.

    Reply
Leanna says March 8, 2018

Hi Jennifer – I have never done any affiliate marketing as I was unsure of the legalities of it. This is very very helpful. Thank you.

Reply
    Jennifer Priest says March 9, 2018

    So glad you found this helpful!!

    Reply
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