Confused about follow and no follow links?

Here’s a quick overview of the difference between the two, and how to change your link to a no follow link when it’s required.

Website Links and Search Engines

A follow link is a normal link to a website page. Once upon a time, a link was just a link. The reason why there is such a thing as a no follow link now is due to the rise of search engines over the years. When a user searches for a particular word or phrase, search engines like Google have to decide what are the most relevant websites to show them. Google wants to show the most useful links first to their users. They have lots of ways to rank all the websites and pages that match the search so that they can present a user with the best search results. One way of doing this is by using all those website links already out there.

 

How Search Engines rank pages

This is a very simplified example, but let’s say I have a page on my website that talks about black cats in great detail. How can Google know if this page is any good compared to all the other pages on the internet that also discuss black cats? If it’s a good source of information about black cats then it’s very likely that other web pages will have links pointing to mine. Google can rate/rank my page by simply counting the number of links to my page and comparing that to the number of links to other black cat pages. Google can then display search results for ‘black cats’ based on that ranking. They can also factor in how highly rated a page is that is linking to mine is. A link from a reputable news website will be worth more than a link from some random person. Google can then pay attention to what the users searching for information about black cats do with those search results. Did they skip past my page based on the title or description? Did they click the link to look at my page, but return back to the search results straight away to go further down the list looking for something more useful? There are lots of extra ways that Google can tweak their search results to give a user the best possible search results for what they’re looking for.

 

Why do we need no follow links?

The above way of ranking pages based on links to a page (called inbound links) from other websites would work fine if everyone on the internet was only creating links to pages with good content. However the reality is that there is money to be made by being at or near the top of the search results for something, especially if it’s a product. In order to move up the search rankings, a person or company might be tempted to generate a lot of links to their web pages. Or pay others to write reviews and generate links to their product for them. Now users will get bad search results. Search engines like Google want to differentiate between genuine links to pages that people think are valuable, and links that shouldn’t count towards rating a page. This is how the no follow link came about. Google wants you to mark any link that should NOT be counted for rating pages (for search purposes) as ‘no follow’. Google will then ignore that link when calculating page rankings. This is the only difference between the two types of links.

 

When to use a no follow link

Recent discussions about Google penalising websites for using follow links have scared many into making all links on their blog or website into no follow links. This is unnecessary, and not what Google wants. You can continue to use normal links to web pages that you think contain valuable content. The exception is a situation where you’ve been paid/compensated to promote/link to a web page. In this scenario you must use a no follow link to avoid falling foul of Google. Why do you care about what Google wants? Because if Google blacklists your website then it will effectively no longer exist as far as users searching for your website content are concerned. Apart from marking paid links as no follow, you should also be making it clear to your readers that you were paid to write this content. But that’s a whole other discussion…

 

How to make a website link a no follow link

Here are two links created normally in the wordpress editor that are exactly the same:

 

Follow link to my website

No Follow link to my website

 

To make the second link a no follow link I switch to the Text editor tab and add rel=”no follow” to the href tag. Just as in the video below…

 

It’s that simple to make the link a no follow one. There are plugins you can use to do this for you, but this method will always work.

 

 


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