When to use follow vs. nofollow links continues to be a source of confusion in the blogging community. Find out when to use follow and nofollow links, and how to comply with the new recommendations Google implemented on March 1, 2020.
What are Follow and Nofollow Links?
A follow link is when you place a link in your post to another website. Google considers this to be an endorsement and will give the receiving site some Google juice.
However, Google only wants you to endorse another site out of the goodness of your heart, and not because you received something in return. In other words, Google does not want links to be bought or exchanged in a quid pro quo. You can read all about link schemes on Google’s support site.
But, you can tell Google that the link isn’t an endorsement by adding the code rel=”nofollow” into the link code.
Types of Nofollow Codes
As of March 1, 2020, Google also implemented additional nofollow codes so it can better understand the nature of those links.
For links where you received payment, you may use the code rel=” sponsored” INSTEAD OF rel=”nofollow.”
Google has said that the use of the rel=”sponsored” code is optional. It is not necessary to go back and change the nofollow code on your old posts. You may also continue using rel=”nofollow” on your links instead of rel=”sponsored.”
User Generated Content
The code rel=”ugc” is used to tell Google that a user-generated the content rather than the site owner, such as links within blog comments.
If you use the built-in comments function, WordPress automatically codes links within comments as rel=”nofollow ugc”.
When should use Follow vs. Nofollow?
You should use a nofollow code in the link if the site to which you are linking:
- Paid you in free product, no matter how small the value.
- Paid you money to write the post.
- Paid you in gift cards to write the post.
- Paid a third party, such as a blog network, who then pays you to write the post.
- Put a link to your blog on their website in exchange for you writing the post.
- Paid you in free lodging or meals.
- Paid you any form of compensation in exchange for you writing the post.
- It is an affiliate link, and you are paid if readers purchase through the link.
- You linked to their site because they asked you.
Nofollow Changes Implemented on March 1, 2020
On March 1, 2020, Google made changes in how they handle nofollow links. Previously, when a Google bot saw a nofollow code on a link, it would skip over the link and not look at it at all.
Now, Google looks at the nofollow code as a hint. Google may choose to follow the link, or it may skip over it.
What Happens if You Don’t Use Nofollow Links
If you DON’T code your paid links as nofollow, you could land in Google jail. You can find out if you are in Google jail by looking at Google Search Console under Manual Actions.
If you have a manual action, it means you are in Google jail. Your site has set off a flag in the Google algorithm, and a human must review it.
The Manual Action will tell you the nature of your crime.
Google has detected a pattern of unnatural, artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links on your site.
The most common Manual Action I have seen is for unnatural links, which are links missing the nofollow code.
You will need to fix ALL of the errors before submitting your site for reconsideration.
So the next time a brand wants to pay you for a follow link, just say no. It is not worth the risk of being punished by Google.