There’s so much to take into consideration when it comes to SEO and Google. It can be quite frustrating. This one is part SEO and part Google’s official guidelines. It’s SEO because not following this easy rule can be very damaging to your SEO. In addition to disclosing sponsored content and paid links, you also have to add a piece of code to links that you are compensated for. The code is the code pictured above. The full link with that code will look like this:What defines a paid link?
Google has stated that a paid link is not as simple as someone saying, “I’ll pay you $10 to put this link on your site.” Any link included in a sponsored post is considered a paid link. Even if a link is not required from the sponsor.
FYI: free things also mean sponsorship and are considered as equal compensation as money.
Why do they do this?
Google is trying to prevent people from raising their Google Page Rank and search position by paying for links. They want good content to be rewarded, not big pocketbooks. Therefore, they will penalize websites who are found to be linking to other sites for money without using the “no follow” attribute.
Here’s the purpose of the “no follow” tag according to Google:
“Nofollow” provides a way for webmasters to tell search engines “Don’t follow this specific link.”
They are simply trying to protect the integrity of their search results. Take a look at their official page on this subject here.
So this means that the glasses company sending you free glasses for posting about them with X number of links should be getting “no follow” added to their links. This is tricky because often a company generally expects to get “do follow” links. They rely on blogger ignorance of Google’s terms and are ultimately putting your blog and their own site at risk by purchasing links. Major agencies such as Collective Bias have come out and required links from their sponsored posts to be “no follow” links. That is because they know the rules and want to protect the bloggers in their network. Truly legitimate companies like this will not ask you for “do follow” paid links.
If a company ever requires “do follow” links or gets upset that you have made their links “no follow”, stick to your guns. They know they are asking for something that is against the rules and you’re right to call them on it. Feel free to refer them to this page to read it from the source. I’ve heard every trick in the book (even threats) coming from companies determined to get a “do follow” link, but don’t fall for any of them. If they have already paid, the money is yours as long as “do follow’ links were not promised. If they have not paid and are requiring “do follow” links, you simply should not accept their offer.
Now, the chances that Google will find you not using the “no follow” tag are low, but it is very possible. They’ll find the site you’re linking to first, since they have probably paid a bunch of other bloggers for the same link. That sets off red flags for Google. The they investigate where those links come from and start handing out penalties. I know of sites that have been heavily penalized by Google for not following their rules. Being downgraded or worse, de-indexed by Google can be absolutely devastating to a website owner.
So there you go! Following this simple rule will protect your site from being penalized by Google. So do it!