Ok, so something that keeps coming up for us bloggers and social influencers, is the follow or no follow link and what the blimmin' heck we should be doing. The subject was briefly covered in our workshop this month and sparked much interest and discussion...
Follow or No Follow Link?
You might know that link-building is a great way of increasing your Domain Authority and basically, making Google like you! If you do it right!
It can position you and your blog as an "expert" in your field, writing useful content and therefore increasing your rankings (making you come up nearer the top of the page when someone searches you).
That's why everyone likes it when you link to their site, whether it be in a blog post or a social post. It's always good manners to do so.
Being a blogger or social influencer, you may have noticed or have been asked by brands particularly to include a link back to their site when you write about them? Fairly simple right?
But have they used the expression "please include a follow link"? What on earth does that mean? To follow or no follow link? That is the question!
What's a follow link?
Basically, this is a link that "counts" in Google's eyes. When Google is trying to work out how useful a site is (and calculates their DA score), they will look to how many external links there are back to a site, showing how influential a site is. The more links, the higher the DA score.
What's a no follow link?
Basically, if you include a no follow link, Google will know not to count it. The link will not increase the site's DA score and therefore the site's rankings.
But why? I hear you ask...
Essentially there has to be some regulation to stop a load of businesses, brands, even bloggers with lots of cash, paying for links and spreading their site across the internet in a non "natural" way. I mean it wouldn't be fair for the rest of us if the richest ensured they had the highest rankings, just because they had the dough to spend on buying-up links, would it?
So...Google prefers everyone to link "naturally" and genuinely.
So I'm being paid to link?
Arguably, if you're being paid or sponsored in some way (maybe with free product), your linking to that product is not entirely "genuine" and therefore Google would see it as the brand buying a link. So, best practice, if being paid or sponsored, would be to use a no follow link - which sends people in the direction you want them to go, but doesn't improve the brand's site rankings in any way. It's more ethical.
But I genuinely like what I'm linking to?
That's great! If you genuinely would write and link to something in your blog or social posts and haven't been paid or gifted to do so, then link away as usual. Share the love!
What if I use a follow link but have been paid or gifted for it?
If you use a follow link but you've been paid by a brand or you've been given a free gift in return, then Google can and may track you and pull you up on it. Likelihood is, they'll ask you to take the post down but there have been tales of fines and all sorts. So best thing to do? Use a no follow link.
Will the brand still want to work with me if I use a no follow link?
The answer is, yes they should! They should be pleased for the extra exposure, the natural and organic content, which will help raise the profile and exposure regardless. If they insist on a follow link, they may not have an ethical approach any way. Most brands are aware of these regulations now and will understand if you respond saying you only include no follow links.
How to insert a no follow link:
So chances are, when you automatically insert a link on your blog or social accounts, it'll be a regular follow link.
So, if you want to ensure it's a no follow link, then you'll have to edit the html (if you use WordPress, go to the 'TEXT' tab in your writer, instead of the 'VISUAL' tab). You'll need to add into the link:
rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag.
Not sure what that all means? Then read this easy article from Dummies, which explains in more depth. (FYI - I'm not sponsored or endorsed by Dummies in any way, I just genuinely think their article is useful so I've used a follow link).