You take a seat at the bar and ask the bartender what he recommends. He throws out the name of a cocktail, then adds that a certain brand is paying the bar to promote their product. In essence, he’s letting you know what he suggests while also making it clear that he has an incentive to promote this product. NoFollow links do something similar. They let Google search bots know when a suggestion, in the form of a link, has been incentivized. Let’s take a closer look at NoFollow links and when to use them.
What is the NoFollow Attribute
When a website links to an outside site, they pass authority to the other site. It’s like a vote of confidence, letting search bots know that the site linked to has value. Adding the NoFollow attribute lets search engines know not to follow that link, or not to pass authority to the other site. The meta tag looks like rel=“nofollow”.
History of NoFollow
Links are a part of Google’s algorithm, and having inbound links to your site improves your SEO. Many people started to abuse the use of links to increase their SEO by spamming comments with links or forming “link farms”. Google’s solution was to create the NoFollow attribute. They have established guidelines for when to use NoFollow links, and the search engine penalizes sites who abuse links now. In order to avoid being penalized by Google, be sure to follow the rules carefully.
When to Use NoFollow Links
These are instances when you should always use NoFollow links:
- Links in comments or on forums. A spam blocking plugin can help moderate comments on your site.
- Advertisements and sponsored links. Anything that is part of sponsorship or paid placement must have the NoFollow attribute.
- Links in press releases.
- Paid links. If you charge a fee for a listing in a directory, a review, etc. then use NoFollow links.
No one wants to get kicked out of the bar for not following the rules, and you certainly don’t want to be kicked off Google’s search engine results for not following the rules. Pay attention to the links you use on your site and add the NoFollow attribute as needed to avoid penalties.
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