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The basics of attaching a ‘no-follow’ to your external links
If you’re following best blogging practices and the unwritten rules of blogging, then you may have heard of ‘no-follow links’. Nowadays, almost every piece of content found on a website will have an impact on its position in the search engine results pages (SERPs) – whether it be good or bad. So, for your own sake (or your client’s); it’s a good idea to make sure you’re abiding by best practice.
What are ’no-follow’ links?
To ensure your understanding of no-follow links, let’s discuss how search-engines operate.
Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing use a 3-step process to decide their search results. This process starts far earlier than the moment you take to your keyboard to conduct a search…
The first step is ‘crawling’. Search engines are constantly sending out crawlers/bots to ‘read’ websites. These bots then take their findings back to be ‘indexed’. Search engines are only aware of the websites which are submitted to them, or that they have found through links during crawling.
Then, when someone conducts a search, the search engine will look back at every website it has indexed, and attempt to ‘retrieve’ the most relevant documents from its database in order to match the query as accurately as possible.
When a link is inserted from one website to another, it is always a ‘do-follow’ link by default. This means that when a crawler/bot finds a link in a website, it goes through that link to crawl the other website, rather than yours.
In contrast, a ‘no-follow’ link is one which has a tag that says to crawlers ‘Excuse me! Don’t follow this link!’. No-follow links are however controversial as links can be like endorsements in the world of SEO, which is why some brands prefer not to add the code.
Why are they important?
As mentioned above, good quality web content is important in ensuring good quality SEO. It is always being preached to us that having citations (links) that bring people back to your site is vital for SEO. The more your website is being linked to by other trusted sites, the higher your Google ranking will be. The opposite is also true if several poor/spammy sites are found to be linking to your website.
By making a no-follow link, you are telling search engines not to count that link as an association between your website and the one you’re linking to. You’re also getting to keep the ‘Google juice’, that would normally be passed on, for yourself.
How to add a ‘no-follow’ link
To do this you need to be in the HTML version of your blog post and find your link. The link will look something like this:
<a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk” target=”_blank”> Click here </a>
You will need to add this piece of code:
So that the link looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> Click here </a>.
When to use a ‘no-follow’ link
- Any time you have been paid for a link/can earn money from a link (since these aren’t organic links, they wouldn’t have been included otherwise). For example, sponsored posts and links when referring to a product you received from a company (product reviews etc.).
- Links from unreliable sources.
- Links for sites that you don’t want to receive Google juice, for example, if you’re writing a negative review about a company.
Using do-follow links in any of those situations may be seen as a link-building scheme by Google, which could damage your page ranking. Google has more than likely already identified sites using paid links, so they’re likely to have been penalised or downranked already.
When not to use a ‘no-follow’ link
You should NOT use no-follow links every time you post a link. This is equally as bad as never using them at all. Search engines look at incoming and outgoing links and are well aware of those sites that are greedy with the ‘Google juice’, and never link to other, authoritative sites. These will be downranked by Google.
What’s more, linking to authoritative sites may actually give you a little boost, so it’s worth doing every now and then! Similarly, links to other bloggers or social sites should ALWAYS be follow-links because they are trusted sites and provide good quality content.
On the flip side, if you’re linking to a site that seems spammy, has content you’re unsure of or breaks Google’s terms of service; you A. don’t want Google to see you in the same negative light, and B won’t be wanting to send any ‘Google juice’ their way!
If this is all still a bit too confusing, you can contact Web Designers like Cheltenham based MA Design for more information and if you have any questions.