If you blog just for you and you never intend to work with brands or make money from your blog, then this distinction may never need to bother you.
If you intend to undertake reviews and maybe even earn from your blog, then you need to know the difference between ‘follow’ and ‘nofollow’ links. Google may penalise your blog if you get it wrong, so it is better to have the facts.
What is a ‘follow’ link?
When search engine bots search through your site they will follow all of the links that you have embedded into your posts, to see where they lead. So you may link back to your own content (which is a great thing to do) and you may also have links going out to other blogs or websites. Every time you include a link it is like giving a personal endorsement to that site. So the more links you have on other blogs/website to yours the better. It is also great to share the love and link to blogs/businesses you like on your site too.
This is where it gets a little more confusing. If you want to link to a brand because you love them and want to shout about them that that is fine, use a ‘follow’ link. Endorsing products is fantastic and it is great to share honest opinions. However, if you have been sent the product to review and use a follow link then Google may get upset.
Using ‘nofollow’ links
If you are sent an item you are being paid in kind. So, when you write a review you are only leaving that link for the purpose of the review. If this link is a follow link (and gives the site a boost) then Google will frown upon this and if they see it, they will penalise you and the brand.
How do they penalise you? It means they could exclude you from Google search results or worse still, if you are using Blogger (owned by Google) your blog could be taken down completely.
To get around this problem all you have to do is make the link ‘nofollow’, this means that when the Google bots trawl your site they will come to a dead end, they will not follow through to that link. You are still linking to the product, so the reader can see where they could get the product from, but you are not providing the brand with ‘link juice’.
How to add in the ‘nofollow’ links
If you are using Blogger then you will have to manually add it in. This isn’t too difficult though, just a bit tedious. When you insert a link, click into the text/html view of the post and add in rel=”nofollow” to the html code.
So, if I had been sent a teddy bear from a fellow Editor here at Live. Love. Blog it would look like this.
With a follow link (default): <a href=”https://www.liveloveblog.co.uk”>teddy bear</a>
With a no follow link inserted: <a href=”https://www.liveloveblog.co.uk” rel=”nofollow”>teddy bear</a>
If you are using WordPress there is a plugin called nofollow for external link, which means only having to tick a box to make a link no follow. n.b, we have not tested this plugin.
So, next time you add in a link just think, am I endorsing this site because I want to? Or am I adding the link because I was sent something in return?
Has this cleared up the distinction between follow and nofollow for you?