Nofollow, Dofollow, and your Google Page Rank

In the blogosphere, I’ve come across lots of debate concerning how to tag paid links in relation to Google Page Rank. Some believe you never have to add a nofollow tag, others swear by the nofollow tag, and still others have no clue what the nofollow tag is. This post will shed some light on the controversy, and what you need to do in order to keep your hard blogging work secure.

What’s a Dofollow or Nofollow link?

99% of the time, when you add a link to another website in your blog posts, you create a “dofollow” link. The remaining 1% may apply if you have a sitewide widget or other coding which makes all of your links nofollow. Traditionally, however, links are dofollow by default. This means that when the Google bots make their way to your blog, they will leave your post through that link, taking along a smidgen of your page rank with it. (More info on what Google Page Rank is…)

What the “nofollow” tag does is simply tells the Google bots NOT to follow that link or share any of your PR “juice” with the site you have linked to. To add the nofollow tag, you need to edit the HTML of your post, adding [ rel=”nofollow” ] (without the brackets) just before the closing “>” in the link’s code.

When to Add the Nofollow Tag

So, you may be wondering when it’s appropriate (or necessary) to add the nofollow tag to a link. The short answer is, when any compensation between you and the website you are linking to has changed hands. If you have received a product to review, the product’s website link should be nofollowed. If you received cash for writing a sponsored post, the links mentioned should be nofollowed. If you are testing out a paid service for free at the creator’s request, the link should be nofollowed.

For other links, such as when linking to a fellow blogger or reputable website, dofollow is quite fine. In fact, it looks good for your blog, as it needs a healthy balance of nofollow and dofollow links to succeed with Google.

Why does compensation have an effect on whether a link is dofollow or nofollow?

Because Google says it does. The search engine is by far the king on the internet, and most bloggers strive to follow their guidelines and terms to stay on the beast’s good side. They state that paid links (no matter the form of compensation) MUST be nofollowed. This keeps advertisers from “buying” their page rank. In essence, the terms don’t allow for gaming the system.

How does page rank factor into nofollow or dofollow links?

One effective way to increase your page rank is to get more inbound links to your blog. When another site links to you (with a dofollow link), it tells Google’s bots that the site linking to you finds you important. Enough of those links spread out over the world wide web will eventually increase your PR. This is why guest posts and evergreen content are so important if you want a good Google PR.

Though some bloggers say page rank really means nothing and is just a number, the truth is there are some PR reps and advertisers out there that weigh their decisions on which blogs to work with based on numbers like page rank. It may not be the best route for them to go, but statistics run the show in a lot of cases. That’s why bloggers play by the rules, nofollowing paid links to keep their page ranks to get better opportunities and campaigns – as well as lots of organic traffic.

Plus, if you’ve worked hard on your blog for a long time, building those inbound links to increase your PR, don’t you want to be sure you protect it?

But I’ve never done a nofollow link and I have a PR of 3!

That’s good for you now, but it won’t be when Google finally catches up with you – and the crackdown seems to have already begun. Recently, several bloggers received notifications that their site looked to have “unnatural links” – basically too many dofollows that looked spammy or were obviously paid links. These bloggers were stripped of their page ranks, just like that. Some have fixed the errors and submitted reconsiderations with Google, hoping to get their page ranks back – but who knows if or when that will be granted?

An advertiser is demanding a dofollow link for a post. What do I do?!

That is up to you. Some advertisers don’t know the rules, and others know and choose not to follow them. Bloggers have gotten some very outlandish requests or reasons why they should do a dofollow paid link, but it all boils down to this: YOU are risking your blog’s page rank and status in the Google search results when you go against their terms. No matter what happens to that advertiser for buying your PR juice, it’s you that can later be penalized and lose all your hard work!

I hope have made the whole process of nofollow/dollow easier to understand! If not, please leave questions or concerns in the comments below.

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