I’ve heard several people talking about DoFollow versus NoFollow links, along with companies coming back and asking their links be changed to no-follow (I’ve received 2 this past week from companies that requested DoFollow before I knew better), so I thought I would try to shed some light on the topic. Plus, Google updated PageRank this morning, so it seemed even more timely.
When I first started blogging, I had no idea that some links should no-follow or what it even meant and how important it was. When I did some research on the topic, it was kind of overwhelming, so I decided to break it down a bit.
Who: Who is affected by do or no-follow links? Anyone that posts links on the web whether it’s a blog, website, etc.
What: What’s the difference between a do-follow and no-follow link? Straight from Google, a NoFollow link provides a way for webmasters to tell search engines to not follow links on this page/post or in regards to a specific link.
Okay, so what exactly does that mean, Michelle? It means that Google PageRank (a scale that Google uses to assign numerical weighting – or how important a website is- to websites on a 0-10 level) is NOT passed from websites linking to your website. I’ll talk more about Google PageRank in the future, but know that while it’s just one slice of the pie, it can be an important factor in working with brands and your search engine placement, though I wouldn’t base your total success on your PageRank.
It can also mean that Google doesn’t recognize the anchor text (or hyper-linked words) that are set as NoFollow. This doesn’t mean that your entire post will not be seen by Google. You can include other DoFollow links or links to other parts of your site in the post.
A DoFollow link simply means that Page Rank is passed and anchor text is followed as normal.
Where: NoFollow links may need to be used on any sort of website or blog post, whether it is a text link or hyper-linked graphic.
When: So when exactly should you use a NoFollow link?
1. If it’s a site you’re not sure you can trust. It’s common for spammers to hit comments on blogs, and while there are plugins and means to counteract this, it’s not a bad idea to NoFollow any comment links incase someone links to a site you can’t vouch for.
2. Paid links or any link associated to something you receive payment for. This should include:
- Paid Text Links
- Paid Graphic Ads
- Reviews you receive compensation and/or products in exchange for no matter if it’s $1 or over $1000. This includes physical products like food or non-physical products like website memberships or apps.
- Affiliate links that you may make money from (for example, when you post something from Escalate Network, etc.)
- Any sort of trade or bartering, such as getting a post about your site in exchange for putting a text link on your site.
3. If a link could be perceived as paid for. Sometimes we love a product so much that we decide to post about it even though we didn’t get compensation for doing so. If you have any similar posts that you normally get paid for, Google may think you’re also getting paid for these posts and dock you. After all, there’s not a lot of ways to prove this one way or the other.
Why: Why does it matter if you use Do or NoFollow links? I’m just one of millions of websites and blogs. I’m not big enough to get in trouble with Google, right? Right?
Wrooong. There are constantly both businesses and blogs getting the dreaded email from Google for “unnatural” links because they have so many other sites out there linking to them with DoFollow links. On the flip side, if Google notices you using a lot of DoFollow links for links you are obviously getting paid for, you’ll get an email and lose all of your PageRank, which can effect your income and search engine traffic.
So, if a company is offering you a good amount of money for a DoFollow link, make sure the money will be worth potentially losing your PageRank and search traffic.
How: So, you’re now convinced that some of the links you commonly use need to be changed to NoFollow, but how do you do it? There are some plugins you can use such as NoFllowr, which let you set links or graphics on an individual basis or WordPress SEO by Yoast which allows you to set a whole page NoFollow, and may be useful if you do a lot of affiliate posts or reviews. If you tend to have posts that you would like some links to be DoFollow and others NoFollow in the same post, I like to just code it by hand and it just takes a few seconds. All you need to add to your link’s html is: rel=”nofollow” . For example:
<a href="moneysavvymichelle.com" rel="nofollow" Money Savvy Michelle</a>
Other Things to Keep In Mind:
- You’ll likely run into PR companies that only want to work with you if you provide DoFollow links. I always encourage trying to educate these companies, but they will often reply that they’ve done hundreds of posts or reviews with DoFollow links with no issue. Remember, it is also your own site on the line for using DoFollow links and the money or product they will pay you is likely not worth the risk. Plus, as I mentioned before, it’s entirely likely they’ll come knocking on your inbox in the future asking you to change or take down the link.
- Wondering how you can make sure a link is NoFollow or DoFollow? I like using the Chrome extension SEO for Chrome. All NoFollow links will be outline in red or orange (according to page or individual link NoFollows). It also includes helpful information for any website including PageRank, Alexa rank, incoming links and more just by clicking on one little button.
All in all, while NoFollow vs DoFollow can be very confusing at first, I hope this post has helped you make at least a bit more sense of it. 🙂 Be sure to check out our past blogging tips and please feel free to comment with more No vs DoFollow tips or to request a future blogging tips topic.