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