In yesterday’s Great Blog Posts linkup, I linked to several posts with tips to sell advertising. I meant to include a little note about nofollow code. I forgot, so you get a designated post. Besides forgetting, this information is important enough for its own post anyway.
What is a Nofollow Code?
Nofollow attribute is a little snippet of information that tells the search engines to not pass PageRank from the site linking out to the site being linked to. This code is rel=”nofollow” and is added to the <a> tag. It makes a link look like this in HTML:
<a href=”http://theworkathomewife.com” rel=”nofollow”>The Work at Home Wife</a>
What is the Number One, Most Important Reason Why You Will Need This Code?
If you sell advertising on your blog or website, you need to learn, memorize and implement the nofollow attribute into all advertisers’ links. Why? It’s search engine law.
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.
Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:
- Adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag
- Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file
So-and-So Isn’t Using Nofollow. Why Should I?
I could name at least six so-and-so’s now that rely heavily on advertising for their blog income and don’t use nofollow links. It really isn’t that hard to find out if someone is or is not nofollowing their links. But, you care a lot more about your site than so-and-so. You have worked hard to get your site up in search engine placement and for that nice PR you are sporting. You want to keep that.
What If I Don’t? How Will the Search Engines Know?
Well, they aren’t going to come asking if that is a paid link. That’s for certain. Their little algorithms search out clues to determine what they think are paid links and go from there. In my own opinion, one big clue is sponsored posts.
Per FTC Guidelines, these partnerships need to be disclosed. This most often includes verbiage in a post such as “this post has been sponsored by…,” “sponsored” or “product and/or compensation were provided for this review.” That makes things rather obvious.
Per Matt Cutts, they want disclosure to their search engines as well:
Clear disclosure of sponsorship is critical, and that includes disclosure for search engines. If link in a paid post would affect search engines, that link should not pass PageRank (e.g. by using the nofollow attribute). Google — and other search engines — do take action which can include demoting sites that sell links that pass PageRank, for example.
So, what happens? Typically, both sides get a nice search engine smack. In 2009, a big shakedown happened with posts sponsored by Kmart. They got a hit when Google found out, and Google deemed a number of those bloggers that participated in that partnership to no longer be trusted in their algorithms. I have also read of little bloggers working with direct advertisers that awoke one morning to being de-indexed and having no PR after selling less than a handful of dofollow links.
But, That is What My Advertiser Wants
Pfft! Tell that advertiser to take a hike. Do you really want to work with someone who is perfectly okay with potentially flushing your long-term earning potential down the drain so they can get a quick PR boost? No. You don’t.
If you lose your PageRank and Search Rank, you more than likely aren’t going to have any advertisers showing up any longer. You are likely going to have a lot of cleaning up to do to get back in the good graces of the search engines. How much is that dofollow link worth to you now?
I know how it is, especially when you are starting out. People are going to show up waving big bucks for breaking the rules, and you are really, really going to want to take it…just.this.once. But, you need to hold out. Pretty soon nice, trustworthy people will show up wanting to honestly work with you, not against you for their own benefit. Soon these people will outnumber the latter.
If you think no one will know about it. Think again. I had one unsavory advertiser show up this week wanting a dofollow post. When I said “nofollow only,” they emailed back offering up a list of names and posts of a lot of bloggers that I know that gave them dofollow posts in exchange for compensation. Tsk tsk. You definitely don’t want to work with someone who will rat you out.