Continuing our series of blog posts looking at making money from your sex blog today we’re looking at the use of follow and no-follow links.
What are follow and no-follow links?
Links act as a recommendation and measure of authenticity to search engines.
Follow links (also known as do-follow or natural links) are links that pass on the benefit of your Google page rank to the blog they are linking to. No-follow links use a piece of code to block the passing on of your page rank.
Search engines use links as one of the measures of how popular a site is, the more links in the more popular and authentic the site is judged to be and so this positively affects a sites page rank and position in search results.
Links also pass on a little of your popularity to the page you are linking to. Think of it as being friends with the popular kid at school – when the popular kid likes you then you are seen to be a little bit cooler than you were before.
So why do I need to worry about them?
Recommendations should be unbiased, see our previous post about declaring commercial relationships when blogging, and so search engines want to be able to distinguish between natural recommendations and recommendations that are part of a commercial relationship.
Follow links are for natural recommendations and no-follow are for commercial recommendations.
What does this mean to me?
As per Google’s webmaster guidelines, all links that are part of a commercial relationship should be coded as no-follow. This includes sponsored posts, content you are paid to host, product reviews where you were sent the product in exchange for a review and posts in exchange for gift vouchers; any content where you are paid directly or in kind to put on your blog.
What about affiliate links?
These should be flagged as no-follow, you should double check the code you are supplied with from the affiliate scheme and if they aren’t already flagged as such you should do so.
Why does it matter?
Follow link buying is seen as a bad search engine optimisation (SEO) practice, in other words it gives an unfair advantage to companies with the budget to buy links no matter how authentic or trustworthy their content or service.
You run the risk of being penalised by Google by having your page rank stripped if you are found to be hosting commercial follow links. This from Google:
“Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site, or outgoing links from your site. Manipulating these links may affect the quality of our search results, and as such is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
It isn’t against the law to host paid for follow links on your blog, however it is worth considering if it is worth the risk of losing your page rank for. If you rely on search engines for your traffic or if you use your page rank as a way to negotiate advertising rates losing your page rank will adversely affect your blog.
But the company that sent me the product said it was okay to use follow links.
As stated above, hosting paid follow links isn’t against the law, it is against Google Terms and Conditions and if discovered the company and the blogger will be penalised by Google. The company should know this, if they want to increase brand presence and build relationships with bloggers they will understand that bloggers will want to use no-follow links.
If they are after a bit of your page rank to boost their search engine rankings (a giveaway is if they ask you to use specific keyword anchors) then they are using bad SEO practices. Ask yourself if you want to work with a company that is willing to put your blog at risk to make themselves seem more popular?
How to make a link no-follow?
Use the attribute tag: rel=”nofollow” infront of the link code, it should look like this:
<a rel=”nofollow” href=http://www.writesexright.com>A really fantastic blog for sex bloggers</a>
If you are on WordPress you can find various SEO plugins that can help you make links no-follow via a menu options on your post page.
Whether a blogger uses a no-follow links for their reviews and paid content is a personal choice, only they can decide if the risk of having their blog de-indexed by Google is worth the value of the products they’re reviewing or being paid for. We hope this guide to follow and no-follow links will help you make and informed decision.
Useful links and source:
Google webmaster guide: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=96569
Googles guide to paid links: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356
Internet Advertising Bureau UK guide to paid content: http://www.iabuk.net/sites/default/files/IAB%20ISBA%20Guidelines%20on%20the%20Payment%20for%20Editorial%20Content%20-%20July%202012.pdf