NoFollow Links & Sponsored Posts – Marking Advertising Correctly

Explanation with NoFollow links and DoFollow links, how to tag ads properly. “A Do-Follow link is not bad for your blog and other bloggers do it too.” “We are a young startup and need quality traffic to grow – help us.” “Other bloggers also put do-follow links and have no...

NoFollow Links & Sponsored Posts – Marking Advertising Correctly

NoFollow Links & Sponsored Posts – Marking Advertising Correctly

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Explanation with NoFollow links and DoFollow links, how to tag ads properly. “A Do-Follow link is not bad for your blog and other bloggers do it too.” “We are a young startup and need quality traffic to grow – help us.” “Other bloggers also put do-follow links and have no problems with it. Nothing happens to the really big bloggers when you put do-follow links either.” “If we post an advertorial and NoFollow links are included, it’s worth nothing!”

These are just a few collected comments about NoFollow links in the last seven days that have come to me for the purpose of advertorials and sponsored posts. The insults that followed of “uncooperative, arrogant, etc.” I leave once directly uncommented.

After last posting a few weeks ago on the topic of “bloggers do not have to be paid – it is, after all, a hobby” comes the topic of “NoFollow links or Dofollow links” and purchased advertising just in the last few weeks again very strengthened, so I would like to take up this outside of my next Blogger and SEO workshops at least once in a blog post.

Even if this is only a very small part of my SEO workshops – it is still very important for bloggers. One always just wonders, if other bloggers offer workshops, bloggers want to advise and optimize the blogs, why is not even with itself on “NoFollow links” and labeling paid attention?

What should I then learn as a blogger or how to optimize my blog then for 500 or 1,000 EUR (for 2 hours time!) Google compliant? You can’t optimize a blog in 60 minutes without knowing the basics, SEO doesn’t explain itself in half an hour.

Which link must be provided with a nofollow tag in a blogpost?

The question is quite simple and quite transparently explained by Google in the guidelines and webmaster tools and can be read for every blogger, as well as every SEO agency, PR company and business. It is not a well-kept secret what you do not find – but just as a blogger and PRler should know.

So that search results are not influenced by paid links and so that users are not deceived, we strongly urge webmasters to use the attribute nofollow for such links. Search engine guidelines require a machine-readable notice for paid advertising links. This is similar to how advertising in online and offline media is labeled to consumers. For example, full-page advertisements in newspapers are often identified by the headline “Advertisement” (Source: Google Guidelines).

Looking at the definition of the corresponding NoFollow links that must be marked with the attribute “nofollow”, a Nofollow tag is mandatory for the following links:

Paid Links / Fake Links
Paid advertising / sponsored posts (regardless of whether as text or image advertising)
Invitations to events, etc. – even if there was no money flow here, there was an advantage
Guest posts / advertorials
Links that do not fit thematically to the blog
Affiliate links (including, for example, for bloggers also RewardStyle, Tracdelight, Amazon, etc.)
Links on form pages (such as “sign up here”, “order newsletter”, etc.)
Links to content that is not “trustworthy” or content with a negative connotation

Google also defines very clearly what “untrusted content” is for NoFollow links. Here, for example, reference is made to websites for which the blog author cannot provide a guarantee or which are “not good for the common good”. This then includes gambling sites, lottery, online casinos, alcohol, as well as various e-commerce providers and dating platforms. Particularly as an American search engine, other fundamental values are once again brought to the fore here.

Also affected are comment fields, for which it is not clear what the content of the following page is. WordPress has generally set all links on comment fields to NoFollow links – so there is no danger for WordPress users. Links at Blogger are generally marked as NoFollow links as well.

In recent years, the spam in comments came up more and more often, where people tried to rank a page positively often with replica models from Asia, Russia, etc. through links from a page with a high page rank. The blogger himself gave away some of his ranking and thus unconsciously strengthened a page that was not trustworthy.

Similarly, there are many plugins for WordPress that give the opportunity to reward high-quality links or people who comment regularly – and properly – by removing the NoFollow link to a DoFollow link.

For collaborations or trips organized by me with different bloggers and mentions in my blogposts, the links to the other blog are usually always marked as “follow” and I do without the NoFollow links. The background now quite logical – the content is trustworthy, it is not a paid link and I know the person who reports on similar content as I do. So links can be distributed “safely” among themselves and both sides benefit.

In general, for all bloggers, as soon as a cooperation arises, regardless of whether it is through a flow of money, as a barter deal (goods deal) or through an invitation to a trip or hotel presentation there is always some kind of payment involved. With all types of payment for a link to the partner, the NoFollow links always apply. This also applies, for example, to the famous smartphone case, which is gladly provided free of charge.

What happens if I do not provide the blogpost with NoFollow links?

In the first moment, probably nothing happens with wrong NoFollow links. As soon as the page is put online, this has no direct effect, except that against the Google guidelines and the labeling obligation is violated.

A few years ago, only a few websites and blogs were punished by Google because of missing NoFollow links, but the change and the regular updates of the Google algorithm led to a tightening and significantly increased detection of fake links.

In addition to the automatic detection of fake links and link exchange programs, websites are also increasingly being “manually” punished by Google. Through this case-by-case examination, the processes are precisely analyzed by Google and the corresponding websites are restricted in visibility in the ranking or even removed completely.

A warning example should be the travel portal Expedia, which was manually punished by Google in spring 2014 and lost 25% of its visibility. The company’s stock fell by over 4% in the following days after the Google penalty became known, and some German companies have also received corresponding penalties in recent months and years (just do a Google ranking search for Expedia).

Whether it was wrong texts, wrong NoFollow links, bad links, the conversion to Responsive Design or similar things, can not be clearly presented – but a loss of visibility of 25% would certainly not like to have any blogger.

Should purchased NoFollow links have not yet been detected by the algorithm of Google, there is at the same time the possibility also still “report purchased links to Google”. Here Google provides a function in the Webmaster Tools, where you can report fake links to Google. In the form one enters as a competitor of the Blogger only the appropriate values:

Link to the website that sells the space (e.g. the blog where the untagged link is contained) – alternatively, the agency that tries to buy appropriate do-follow links for the client can also be reported here.
Link to the website that buys the space (e.g. the famous smartphone case manufacturer)
Justification field – here, for example, the email can be copied in, where the company makes the request to spread Do-Follow links and how “harmless” it is for the blog after all.

Google has already removed some SEO agencies through these forms, which have repeatedly purchased links for various clients – which were then also marked with Do-Follow. The warning from Google to the agencies was often ignored, so that subsequently a massive collapse in the search engines of the customers occurred. If one asks with an email to the agencies once, for which customers the Do Follow instead of NoFollow links was made nevertheless already problem-free and which Blogger converted it, one receives frequently a whole list and the astonishment is large. You then have to decide for yourself whether you want to be active and report everything or not.

Danger for bloggers – wrong NoFollow links marking at other bloggers.

The most popular justification for missing NoFollow links are: it will already not notice, all “big” bloggers do it too, is of course a nice “agency justification” and has nothing to do with truth and knowledge.

It is certainly true that some big bloggers simply provide all links as “dofollow” link and also do not mark as advertising, ad or “sponsored post”. It is of course noticeable when several bloggers of a community make a trip at the same time and then “by chance” all tell about the same sunglasses, the latest sweater or the special camera in the blogpost.

Is it ignorance, is it intentional or do they simply not know the Google guidelines? It’s hard to give an assessment, but anyone who has been blogging for more than four years should inevitably have come into contact with NoFollow links, mandatory labeling, etc. at some point. Of course, the problem here is not only for the client who provided the sweater, but also for the bloggers themselves.

After reporting via the above-mentioned form on the subject of “Paid Links” or via the automatic missing NoFollow Links detection of Google’s algorithm, the pages are permanently penalized and the customer also loses its visibility. Do you then book another action with the agency?

There are enough examples with bloggers who had to experience punishments in the visibility by Google through cooperations with companies. Sometimes it was beachwear, sometimes it was pantyhose, sometimes it is the special perfume and sometimes a special system camera. Who now thinks it is not noticeable, will be surprised very quickly.

If suddenly in the ranking more and more contributions of bloggers, who were also “together” once on the road – appear, which all “accidentally” report on a great, fascinating and incredible “favorite gadget”, Google also knows that it was a cooperation.

NoFollow Links Problem for Honest Bloggers: If you follow guidelines, tag your links accordingly with “nofollow tag” you are still always dependent on the honesty of all other participants. Even if you are the only blogger who sets the tag, marks the post and makes it clear that it is a “sponsored post” can still happen that you are also penalized, because the whole brand or the whole company has otherwise only bought “dofollow” links. Often the ratio is then 200:1 (dofollow/nofollow) and you experience the crash yourself.

Something similar also happened to me two years ago once on my fashion blog and within a few days I lost visibility in some search terms by over 70%. My post was marked with “nofollow”, however, the company otherwise bought mostly only “dofollow” links – but did not make it transparent. Only when the posts and the search term were removed, the search entries came back within a fortnight and the ranking returned to old positions within six to eight weeks.

Generally, the more bloggers write about the product, the higher the risk that many “dofollow” links will also be used. There are few agencies that carry out a very clear definition already in the preliminary discussions and explicitly want NoFollow links. The intention is of course clear – as an SEO agency I try to place my clients as fast as possible, as good as possible, in the search engines. What happens when the cooperation is over, the agencies then do not care.

When I do cooperations, I often ask how many bloggers will be involved in the joint project and always send an example of a former advertorial and also explain to the customer how the blog post, their text will look like.

Thus, the customer can clearly look whether he agrees with the “nofollow marking” or not. If subsequently asked for a “dofollow” link, the cooperation is automatically not feasible for me – even if with me at least it would be waived. You can be sure that with other bloggers then directly urged to “dofollow”.

How do I mark the link as Blogger at Blogspot and WordPress

On both versions of the Blogger platforms (WordPress, Blogger), marking links with the “nofollow tag” is relatively easy to implement. Basically, first of all, all links are marked with “follow”.

On Blogger: It’s as simple as clicking “Edit Link”, just like any normal link you add to another page, and then clicking the checkmark “Add ‘rel=nofollow’ attribute” just before the OK button at the bottom of the page. Then select OK and the link will be marked accordingly for the search engine.

With WordPress: Even if WordPress offers far more possibilities as a place form, the marking is somewhat more difficult and nevertheless with some practice relatively simply to accomplish. For this there are two possibilities with WordPress

Through an external plugin such as “Ultimate Nofollow” – where an addition is built into the link box and you have to make similar to Blogger directly only a hook. Especially for beginners the easier way – disadvantage: every additional plugin is an additional source of errors and can reduce the speed of the blog.
By changing the link in the source code manually:
First, insert the link into the blog post as usual and format it accordingly.
Then switch from “Visual” to “Text” in the top right corner of the blog post.
Search for the link in the source text – for longer texts you can also use CTRL+F and then search for the word.
Insert the addition between the square brackets – example before/after:
<a href=”” target=”_blank”>
<a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>

NoFollow Links & Sponsored Posts - Marking Advertising Correctly

CONCLUSION – NoFollow links labeling – fake advertising.

It becomes more dangerous with every update from Google for your own blog to get a penalty from Google if you are not careful with your link placement. Generally, this does not mean that every link has to be a “nofollow” link. You can and should continue to have a good mix between “follow” and “nofollow” links in your blog, as this is also important for ranking.

If you only place nofollow links in your blog, you also indirectly tell Google that there is not much interesting content or that all links are bought. On an advertising page Google has of course no interest and will generally not visit your page so often or rank accordingly. A blog without traffic from search engines is not interesting for advertising partners, the growth of the blog will be limited and new followers will be difficult to add.

Why many companies still try to take blogs with a poor ranking for link placement or invite them for events remains incomprehensible, but is probably just as much a part of it as always demanding “dofollow” links for all customers.

Last but not least, a small warning that has become commonplace with some companies in recent months.

A cooperation with a “nofollow” link is first discussed, placed and also marked. The blog post goes online, the invoice is paid and a few weeks later another employee writes to the blogger again and asks in complete amazement why the link was suddenly set to “nofollow”. After all, it had been clarified a few weeks ago that it should be a “dofollow” link and the customer had already paid for it weeks ago. Please change the link immediately – otherwise you would never have paid the fee in this amount.

Therefore, always make sure to include appropriate examples in the agreements, clarify it beforehand and refer to corresponding texts at Google or also to this text, why no purchased link may be marked with “dofollow”.

Further questions I try to answer with pleasure also still in the comments and of course also again in the next workshops to the topic “SEO and GOOGLE” which I will announce as always.

About the general marking of advertising, sponsored posts or ads I will report in the next few days again separately – this would be too long for this blogpost.

Believe in yourself, your personal dreams and start your own journey – just for you….

Believe in yourself, your personal dreams and start your own journey – just for you….

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