Hello my little SEO experts, and welcome back to SEO Saturday in which I talk to you about things that you may not know, or may not understand or read and think ‘god, I could have told you that’. I’m starting to get a bit of writer’s block when I’m thinking of posts for this series so your suggestions are greatly received. Catch up on my previous posts by searching SEO or you can read my latest post on social media. I have been seeing a lot of people lately ask about no follow and do follow links, what they are and why we use them. So, I’m going to take it back to basics and explain exactly why we need to be using the correct links.
In previous posts, I have explained how Google has little spiders that crawl your website. These spiders pick up on links that you have been placing within your blog posts and use them in order the rank the page. Good referral links equal good page ranking in search engines. The ‘link juice’ that is being made apparent to the Google spiders could therefore be manipulated by people using ‘black hat’ techniques to place themselves high up in search engines outcomes. No Follow and Do Follow links are thereby used to show Google bots whether a website link is organic or not which in turn reduces search engine spamming. A business will want to be ranking at the top of Google as it will be quite important for their revenue, but for them to reach the top, they will need lots of links pointing back to them.
A No Follow link is a HTML code that tells Google bots to not follow the link, however the link you have created in your blog is still accessible to any person reading it.
A Do Follow link is the natural link which tells Google that the link juice is organic and the backlink is credible. Any Do Follow links that I leave are usually within an anchor text with the specific keyword ie: Selfridges, SEO Saturday.
As bloggers, we are asked by companies of all rankings to review products, place sponsored posts on our blogs and take money for placing a natural advertorial within our blog posts. In return, the company will usually want x amount of links back to their website, which is fair enough. Any link that has been paid for either with money or by goods/vouchers should be marked as a no follow to help the Google algorithms see that this large business has ‘paid’ for a link, therefore ranking the webpage according. It’s the same principle on how you can improve your DA by getting credible backlinks.
There is no law to say that you can’t accept sponsored posts, money or gifts without putting a no follow link but it is best practice to do so. You may not get fined and sent to prison, but what is worse is if Google picks up on these follow links using its very clever algorithms, you could find that your beautifully created and nurtured baby of blog could be penalised by dropping in ranking, therefore a loss of traffic. Even worse than that, you could find that your entire site is removed from Google. I know I would be absolutely devastated. All is not lost though, you can apply for a re-inclusion by changing those links that Google doesn’t like. Again, I recommend Webmaster Tools so you can keep up to date with any issues.
WordPress has several plugins which make it easy to change your link to a no follow by using a simple check box and I believe that Blogger has updated to reflect this as well. The actual HTML link is simply rel=nofollow after your webpage link. It’s not for me to say that you shouldn’t accept money if the company has asked you to place a do follow link within the text, but it’s really quite unethical to do so as theoretically you are manipulating how Google sees the website.
Before I finish, I also must point out that no follow and do follow links are not the same as disclosure and that leads me onto next weeks post nicely!