It’s been talked about (and talked about…aaaaaand talked to death about) in the past few months especially but from our sponsored post survey (which you can find out more about here – we’d love to hear your opinions!), it seems there are still quite a few of you out there who aren’t sure what a “nofollow” link is, and when they should be used.
Let’s start with the basics. What is a “nofollow” link? Marking a link as nofollow won’t make any difference to your standard reader but it’s when you make a note in a link that a search engine should not follow that link. For example, if your standard link looks like this:
then a no follow link would look like this:
If you’ve been asked before to publish a sponsored post on your blog, you probably disclosed that you received a payment for that post (at least, we hope so! Disclosure is a good thing!) Your readers are clever enough to understand whatever language you used to say that you were compensated but the search engines are not – this is why they need a special bit of code.
Why does Google and the rest of them want to know if you were paid for a link? Why should they care? Well, because of the way that they calculate the best search results. Google (et al – we’re just going to say Google for the rest of the post to make it easier!) rates links that have been naturally included in a blog post (also known as organic links) The more sites that link to a certain site with specific words, the higher up Google’s rankings it goes. This is why a SEO agent might contact you with a request to include a link to a certain site with certain wording. Google doesn’t like this very much – they think that this is not fair to the sites that haven’t paid to get their search rankings boosted. Google wants bloggers (and all other site owners) to mark any link that they receive payment for as nofollow so they wont get counted unfairly in the latest search algorithm update.
One example that you might have heard of regarding nofollow links is when Interflora were penalised for their search campaign. While it turned out that the campaign that had caused the problems were advertorial (a feature that is actually just an advert) posts on many different local newspaper websites, the people running the campaign panicked and thought that this was due to the work done with bloggers – this is why bloggers were being requested to take down posts or mark the links as no follow.
Hopefully that’s a bit clearer now – let us know if theres anything you’re not sure of!