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…
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.
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.
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!
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?