Sponsored Content: Follow Links Vs Nofollow Links

Sponsored Content: Follow Links Vs Nofollow Links
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So you’re publishing a piece of sponsored content on your blog. Do you use a Follow Link, or a Nofollow link?

Let’s take a look at what these terms mean, and what you should be using when selling sponsored content or sponsored links on your blog.

To start with, we need to know exactly what a follow link is, and what a nofollow link is. Then we can explore the reasons brands buy sponsored posts, and get a better understanding of what type of links you should be using.

Before we get into explaining exactly what the different types of links are, it pays to have a very brief understanding of the role links play in the SEO game.

In a nutshell, each time a website gets new links to it from other websites, it will receive a small SEO boost.



The easiest way to see if a link is Nollow or NoFollow is to take a look at the web pages source code. In Google Chrome you can right click and View Source.

Let’s do an example right here, right now!

This link is a nofollow link. If you right click and view the source of this page, you’ll see the screenshot below:

This link is a follow link. Take a look at the code for this link, and you’ll see the screenshot below:

You no longer see the rel=nofollow bit that the first link had! This is literally the difference between a follow and nofollow link.

What Does Google Say?

The reason we are even having this discussion is because selling sponsored content on your website is often seen as a taboo topic. Bloggers are often scared, rightly or wrongly, that selling too much content will result in their website being punished by Google.

The reason for this belief is the the screenshot below, taken from Googles official documentation on outbound links.


But what is rel=”sponsored” then?!

Good eyes! There is a third player in the ring now, and it’s known as rel=”sponsored”.

A key point from this blog post is this: If you want to stay on Google’s good side, you should ensure you mark any paid links, including those within sponsored content, with the rel=”sponsored” value.

You’ll see Google also states that “The nofollow attribute was previously recommended for these types of links and is still an acceptable way to flag them, though sponsored is preferred”.

See that bottom bit? Using the fancy new sponsored attribute is preferred, but if you have been using nofollow links over the past few years, then you are ok just to leave them as they are.

Why Do Brands Buy Sponsored Posts?

There are a number of reasons brands buy sponsored posts or sponsored links.

To increase brand awareness

When brands are solely wanting to increase brand awareness, they won’t care about whether the links are follow or nofollow.

These brands will mainly be focused on reach. They want as many people as possible to read their sponsored content, and build a genuine connection with the brand. They aren’t worried about SEO, or even referral traffic. They simply want the reader to be aware of the brand and what they offer.

To get genuine referral traffic

When brands are wanting genuine traffic to their website, they also won’t care about whether the links are follow or nofollow.

To get improve their search ranking

When brands are wanting to improve their own search ranking, they will more than likely insist the links are dofollow.

As we saw above, nofollow links give no SEO benefit to the website you are linking too. Therefore, if you insist the link is nofollow, a brand buying the sponsored content with the goal of improving their search ranking will immediately lose interest.

This is when things become tricky, and you need to decide whether to turn the advertiser away, or make the link a follow link.

So, Follow, NoFollow,or Sponsored?

So when you are selling sponsored posts or sponsored links on your website, should you use Follow, NoFollow, or Sponsored links?

Let’s give you a few options to choose from:

Option 1: If you are selling sponsored content, and want to stay perfectly on the Good side of Google, make all the links rel=”sponsored”. This will mean you have to turn away some advertisers who ask you not to use this tag.

Option 2: If the idea of turning away an advertiser (and therefore money) makes you feel sick, then default to making all links in sponsored content rel=”sponsored”, unless specifically asked not to.

With Option 2, be sure to not be too risky, or one day you might find your website is slapped right out of the Google results. This means not selling too many sponsored links, and not linking to dodgy website like gambling and drugs.

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