A couple of weeks ago in my post about How to Create a Great Product Review I mentioned the importance of using rel=nofollow links in sponsored posts (including product reviews when the company has provided the product to you). Unfortunately, I didn’t tell you how to create nofollow links and the truth is that it’s a bit tricky and confusing for those who aren’t used to writing HTML.
What are Nofollow links?
Nofollow links are something that were created strictly for the purpose of letting Google know not to follow a link. Typically, Google (and other search engines) send out spiders that travel from link to link. For instance if a spider hit this page it might follow the link above on How to Create a Great Product Review and index it into the searches. Or, if I linked out to another site it would follow that link and that give that site a credit for having a link to it, potentially increasing that sites ranking in Google.
That last example is why they developed nofollow links. Over the years some websites attempted to use and abuse in-bound links, creating link schemes, to improve their search ranking. They would pay people to post links to their site knowing that if enough other sites linked to them Google would see it and spider those links, ranking them higher in Google. Instead, Google caught on and started lowering those sites ranking to punish them for this practice. But, there were those of us who were honestly linking out as part of sponsored posts or product reviews. So, nofollow links were created to allow us to share the link with our audience while telling Google not to follow it.
While some companies believe that nofollow links are useless, they are not. Nofollow links still bring visitors (and potential sales) to the website while also raising awareness. As a rule, we encourage our bloggers to use nofollow links on all sponsored posts, because in the long-run it’s the best thing for both the blogger and the business sponsoring the post.
When do you use nofollow links?
Most of the links you place on your website or blog posts will still be dofollow links. This is the default. The only times you will use a nofollow link is when you have been paid to place a link (whether with money or product). If you have been given a product in exchange for a review on your blog you’ll use a nofollow link in that post. If you’ve been paid to write a sponsored post about a product or service then you’ll use nofollow links when linking back to the sponsor.
If you have sponsors (whether they’ve paid you outright or are paying you via an affiliate program) that pay you to place ads in your blog or anywhere in your website, those links should be nofollow.
Think of it this way – you use nofollow links to tell Google that you were paid to place that link.
How do you create a nofollow link?
This is where things get tricky. Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to write or edit HTML it’s very difficult to create a nofollow link. This can lead to a lot of confusion on the part of the blogger. Should I just not link at all? The answer to that question is a resounding no, you should definitely link. As long as your links are intentional and not intended to create a link scheme you are still better off to link with a follow link than to not link at all.
Follow links are created by default. You don’t have to do anything to create a follow link. You do, however, have to do something to create a nofollow link, but it’s not that difficult or scary. And, depending on your platform there may even be plugins that will make it even easier.
Option 1: Use a plugin – If you are on a WordPress self-hosted website there are plugins available to make create nofollow links as easy as clicking a button.
- Title and Nofollow for links – this plugin adds a rel=nofollow checkbox on the standard insert link tool. When you want to make a link nofollow you just check the box.
- Ultimate Nofollow – this does the same as above and also provides a few other options to make adding nofollow links easier throughout your blog.
Option 2: Create nofollow links manually. If you aren’t on a self-hosted WordPress site you really only have one option and that is to manually add the nofollow code to your links as needed. This might be scary if you’ve never messed with HTML code but it’s not that difficult.
- Step 1: Add the link as you normally would using the insert link button
- Step 2: Go to the text (or HTML) view of your blog post.
- Step 3: Find the link that you want to edit. I’ve highlighted the code in the image below so that you can see what it will typically look like.
- Step 4: Add rel=”nofollow” before the closing > tag
If you have multiple links to the sponsor within your post you’ll need to edit each of them to add the rel=”nofollow” tag. Keep in mind that if you’ve done this right there shouldn’t be anything on your page that visible shows readers it’s a nofollow tag.
More info on Nofollow links:
- Dummies Guide to Adding Nofollow tags
- Adding Nofollow links to all post labels in Blogger
- The Blogger’s Guide to Nofollow links
- How to manually add a nofollow link to blog posts
- How to add nofollow links manually
This infographic may help you understand the rel=nofollow tag further: