No Follow Links: 3 Things Brands Know That You Don’t


As a blogger, you hear a lot about follow and no follow links. If you’re not familiar, essentially, when you write a post which includes the web address (URL) of another website, it will either be a follow or a no follow link.

I think the no follow rule is absolutely brilliant and if you keep reading, you’ll find out why.

A follow link is a genuine recommendation; a message to search engines that you, as a blogger, recommend someone’s post, product or site. Whereas a no follow link is one that someone has asked (paid / compensated) you to include on your site.

Every time we bloggers are asked to do reviews or sponsored posts, we should use a no follow link because we’ve been compensated for pointing people to that site. Those are Google’s rules and if you break them, you could find yourself struck off the search rankings. If you’ve never heard of a no follow link, it’s a simple alteration to your code that looks like this:


FOLLOW Link:         <a href=”http://www.lucyathome.co.uk”>This is my blog</a>

NO FOLLOW Link: <a href=”http://www.lucyathome.co.uk” rel=”nofollow”>This is my blog</a>


But the problem is, companies prefer “follow” links.

Follow links contribute to their domain authority and their page rank, pushing them to the top of Google’s search results. This means they’re ranked higher than their competitors and so are more likely to be visited. A follow link basically says that someone has recommended a product or page for the sheer love of it, rather than because they were paid to do it.

In my 15mths as a blogger, roughly 60% of the companies who’ve contacted me have demanded follow links. That’s a lot of work to have to turn down. And the pay is good. So it can be tempting to just go along with it.

…HOWEVER,  I actually LOVE the no-follow policy and this is why…

No follow link laptop rose

The socialism of the no follow rule

Before Google introduced no follow links, a company could pay as many people as they liked to link to their site. The richer the company, the more links they could pay for, the higher up the search rankings they went. Did that mean their product was better? Nope! It just meant they had a bigger budget.

Now that “no follow” exists, pages are listed according to genuine recommendations.

Yes I know the big companies are more well-known and so they have more chance of receiving a genuine recommendation, but it’s still a much fairer system than it was before.

But it will only work if we bloggers stick to the rules!

Maybe it’s the socialist in me but I think the no follow rule is a great way of “sticking it to the man!” The no-follow rule means that Google lists companies based on the quality of their products, not the amount of money the company has to pay other websites to link to them.

Cheating bloggers

Think of it the other way around – what if it was fellow bloggers paying for follow links?

I’ve been working hard for the last 15months to get myself to the top of Google’s search List. I have squeezed long hours in around looking after my kids and running a home. I’ve been slogging my guts out promoting my work on social media and writing fresh, interesting content.

I would be fuming if some rich kid with a silver spoon in his mouth started a blog tomorrow and overtook me by paying a load of people to link to his site.

The no follow rule means he’s only allowed to buy no follow links so… no quick fixes!

It’s the same for companies. The best companies with the best products deserve to be at the top, NOT the ones who’ve got the most money to throw around.

No follow link google laptop mug

The law

I know many bloggers do make the decision to offer follow links. That is entirely your decision. But, whilst it’s not strictly against the law, if you get caught, you could lose everything.

Google locates paid-for follow links by searching for articles that contain phrases such as “sponsored post”. That’s why most companies who ask for follow links also tell you not to write any sort of disclosure or perhaps just put something like “via iloveshopping.com” at the bottom of the post. Folks, this IS breaking the law: you are not following advertising standards.

By asking bloggers for a follow link, that company has just proved that they don’t care about you or your blog – they’re asking you to risk all your hard work. They are disrespecting and undervaluing all your late nights, tired fingers, laptop-screen headaches. Don’t let them dictate to you – you are worth more than that!

Bloggers, please…

So bloggers, the next time you’re offered money (or a product / service) for a follow link, please think carefully. You’re giving someone a leg up who hasn’t earned it. They are using your hard work and effort to artificially boost their own presence. They are taking advantage of your organic rise to the top, that you’ve earned through publishing great posts and joining in with the blogger community.

Let’s put up a united front to these rich companies who think they can throw their weight around because of the size of their wallets.

I would rather be honest, and support the brands that stick to the rules. I would rather be proud of my contribution to the internet than earn a few extra pennies by pulling the wool over people’s eyes.

We have the power to stop these big companies manipulating people. But it will only work if we all stick together and stand firm. Who’s with me??!

I’d love to know your thoughts – have you been asked for follow links? Do you think it’s okay for bloggers to accept follow link contracts or do you only offer no follow links?

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40 Comments

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  1. 3
    Jemma @popcornlunchuk

    Lucy this is fab, especially for a new blogger like me. I had no idea what follow and no follow links were but you’ve explained it so clearly! DEFINITELY with you on this one and I love your strong sense of morals. It’s totally unfair for a big company to pay for website ranking, imagine all those amazing little local companies who have so much more to offer being put to the bleachers by the big budget giants. I won’t be a part of that x #blogcrush

  2. 11
    The Squirmy Popple

    I totally agree. I don’t really do much brand work on my blog, but if I did it would be no-follow all the way. I agree that the internet would be a better place if the companies that genuinely earned people’s endorsements were the ones that won out in the Google rankings. #DreamTeam

  3. 12
    chickenruby

    i wrote 2 blog posts today with follow links, one was a sponsored post, the other wasn’t. Both links I included were for companies I’d used before and will use again and can highly recommend, I contacted the company for the sponsored post as i’ve used them and advertised them when paying for their services. i’m not interested in monitising my blog or increasing my blog rankings #triumphanttales

  4. 13
    tammymum

    I think it’s difficult sometimes because if you do a follow link and have been compensated for it but you genuinely like the product and would have used a follow a link whether compensated to or not then what is the right thing to to there? I am not sure it is all black and white. That’s not to say I completely disagree with what you are saying however. It’s the big issue facing bloggers and I imagine it will be for a long time to come. #triumpahnttale

  5. 14
    Toni | This Mama Blogs

    I don’t think it’s quite as clear cut & simple, although I do agree with a lot of your points. Google could suspend you from their rankings but that doesn’t mean you’ll lose everything. For me I think would I genuinely recommend that product, brand or blogger, I do the same with reviews such as days out etc including those that I have paid for myself, but I will always disclose if I have been sent an item or have been paid to work on a collaborative post. On the flip side, if I’ve had a bad experience with that brand or product I’ll write an honest post on that too #TriumphantTales

  6. 16
    RawMum

    Wow. Another totally new aspect I didn’t know about. Thanks for the heads up and also for the call the action. I’ll definitely be sticking to the rules. It makes total sense. Thanks. #dreamteam

  7. 18
    Emma T

    I turn down a lot of opportunities too for exactly this reason, and probably a higher %. I’ve never done paid dofollow links and I won’ because I get decent search engine referrrals and I don’t want to lose that. Having said that, it’s wouldn’t be a permanent issue because they reinstate it once you’ve changed all the links.

    What I find is that the people who ask for follow links won’t even pay good money for them. I’m getting offered less money for those than I do by companies who say I can do nofollow. Just about sums up the type o company or scruples they have. I do wonder sometimes whether I should just give a huge fee and see if anyone would pay it.

    The hard thing is, there’s very few full time bloggers who refuse follow links. And that’s because the work would be limited and they need the money. I can pick and choose because it’s pockey money and not my job. I only know of 2 big bloggers who refuses follow links. The rest accept them because of the number of opps dn the fees they can charge. #brilliantblogposts

  8. 19
    jen @ thehollyhockdoor

    Wow! I’d heard of no-follow links but I had no idea what the difference was – thank you for explaining it so clearly! I’m not much of a tech person but this is really easy to understand and a compelling argument. #brillblogposts

  9. 20
    Becca Farrelly

    Really interesting as it took me a long while to decide to monetise my blog and I found it so confusing as to whether to accept money for follow links. I do accept them however they are very few and far between and I do them for companies I’m genuinely interested in. Its a tricky one but I do think it should be very clear within the post that its got paid for links and hate it when bloggers aren’t up front with this!

    #brillblogposts

  10. 24
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com

    It’s no-follow links all the way for me! And full disclosure if something has been given to me. I don’t deal with brands who ask for follow links and/or hiding the fact that a product or other compensation was given. Don’t risk your professional reputation or your personal integrity for anything!

  11. 25
    Wendy

    Fab post Lucy..so informative and explains the minefield of website links perfectly. I have done follow links in the past but don’t any more, i would never write a sponsored post without a disclaimer though, I think being honest as a blogger is the most important thing xx #blogcrush

  12. 27
    Rhyming with Wine

    I am so very naive when it comes to these things that I’ve generally avoided collaborative posts as I always feel a bit suspicious. I had a good idea about follow and no follow links and was always adamant that I’d play by the rules – but only because I’m very complaint and don’t do rule breaking haha. You make an excellent point here and I am totally with you. It is wrong that companies should be able to buy their reputation. No follow all the way for me! Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

  13. 28
    Tubbs

    They don’t care about themselves either. If Google thinks a company is trying to buy it’s way up to the top of the search rankings, they reset their DA to zero as well and they have to rebuilt it in the same way. The other thing that annoys me is when they ask for you not to disclose that a post is sponsored as well. Which is against ASA guidelines. Another reason I don’t do much brand work either. So frustrating!

  14. 30
    Jessica - A Modern Mom's Life

    Lucy – you rock! I too have had many many offers of paid “guest posts” (for lack of a better term) but they all want a do follow link. Sorry, but no. If I link to another blogger’s content organically – because I love it – then for sure, do follow! But never for payment. I am with you 100% and I would love the entire blog-o-sphere to get on board as well.

    ~Jess

  15. 31
    Jaki

    Great post for those who are new to blogging or those who aren’t aware of the whole follow or no-follow thing. Thanks so much for linking up to #TriumphantTales – hope to see you again on Tuesday!

  16. 32
    The Mum Project

    Completely agree, but I didn’t realise I was even doing it until four months into blogging. It’s great you have written this post to share the knowledge! Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama

  17. 33
    Janet T

    I was asked to use that phrasa “via” by a company recently who backed this up by quoting chapter and verse of the ASA rules to “prove” it was allowed. I am not at all sure. So I quoted them a large fee and they gave up on me. The more traffic I get the more likely I am to preserve my google ranking. So no, I haven’t done a paid follow.

  18. 37
    Pamela lorimer

    This is great and i totally get it now! I am on wordpress and the only way i add links is by the link button and i just add in the companies web address and bang there it is, should i be using code like this and writing it in the html instead for any post where i am given the product to review? Clueless x

  19. 39
    Soffy

    I had read about this but still didn’t understand but now I do! This is something everyone should read! Thank you for sharing x

    Soffy // themumaffairs.blogspot.com

  20. 40
    Alice v

    Good article, I have been asked recently for a review with do follow links and up not disclose that it was sponsored. I declined the offer. However I think that if you loved a product you’re reviewing then you should be able to provide links, even if it is sponsored. I fell in love with several products I was sent and asked to review, I think it just makes sense to be able to provide more info. So in a way no follow links can be bad too.

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