Posted on August 9, 2016

Are you taking a risk by giving follow links in exchange for money and reviews?

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bloggers nofollow and dofollow links

Follow links, or do-follow links are like gold for those wanting to rank high in Google.

It’s common practice for bloggers to be approached about reviewing things with a follow link to the product or service page, or for linking to something for some cash.

But what are do-follow and no-follow links?

Follow or do-follow links are likes that pass page rank. Websites want this because it’s good for how high they get positioned in Google. Google has many ways of selecting which pages to bring to the front page when a query is searched, one of those ways is how many links the website has and how good are those websites that are being linked from.

A no-follow link is a way of being able to link to a site or page, but telling Google not to pass page rank. So from an SEO point of view, the link is useless. Although it can still get traffic to the site if your audience click on it.

I’ve always been really relaxed about giving brands do-follow links when I review something. This isn’t something that they always ask me to do, but I’ll do-follow it if I do really like a product or service.

There were never any clear guidelines around reviews. It’s always been clear that Google does not want paid links. But etiquette around reviews has always been a bit vague.

follow and do follow link bloggers reviews sponsored posts

That was until this March, when Google posted on their site that no-follow links should be used when working with brands for product reviews.

Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link). Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.

The article also states that all reviews should be disclosed, preferably at the top of the post in case the reader didn’t read it all.

Not only have Google warned bloggers about this, but they’ve started issuing some bloggers with a manual spam action that means Google doesn’t trust any link on their site. Basically, this makes your whole site no-follow – so any link on your blog is worthless. There is an option to change all unnatural links to do-follow and request the penalty to be removed.

Google is doing this because they want all links to be natural and organic, so only the best results get to the top. This is so when somebody Googles something, they’re getting the best quality results, not the result of something rubbish that someone has paid loads of sites to link to. This ensures that Google stays the mores reliable search engine out there.

So why am I still getting asked to give do-follow links?

This is something that I can’t figure out. It’s been months since Google announced this and I’ve seen many articles about it on technology and blogging sites. I have friends that work in SEO and PR and they’re all aware of the changes, so it’s likely most others in the industry are too.

Yet I’m still getting asked to sell links.

I’m still getting asked to review something in exchange for a link. Or agreeing to review something, then afterward being asked to change my link from a no-follow to a do-follow.

I would expect most SEO’s are just risking it – putting their client’s site at risk as long as our blogs. Or the person the brand has employed to do outreach isn’t experienced. Or maybe it’s a new business and the owner has read articles on link building and thinks it’s okay.

When I went to the Bloggers Brunch at the start of July, one of their SEO experts spoke about it. They’re aware of the rules, they’re aware of the fact that they putting bloggers sites and clients sites at risk. When asked why companies still ask for follow-links, she basically implied that they’re idiots. They either aren’t clued up or just want to risk it anyway.

I’ve thought a lot about this and from now on, I’ll be no-following everything I review. I’m not willing to put myself at risk anymore.

I think eventually it will be requested less and less.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this and if you’re still getting asked for follow links in exchange for reviews or cash.

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12 Comments

  • Reply Anca August 9, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I don’t understand why some bloggers are risking this. For me, my blog is a hobby, and I wouldn’t want to risk getting banned on google (I get 20+% traffic from google) for this. If my blog would have been my job, than is even more scary to add a dofollow link for a fee.
    Anca recently posted…Aira Force waterfallMy Profile

    • Reply Corinne August 14, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      I guess it depends how much traffic they get from twitter vs the amount paid. I know some bloggers that risk it because they hardly get any google traffic at all!

  • Reply Aimee August 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    I still get asked for do follow links. I don’t understand why if the guidelines are that clear cut. I think from now on I’ll be saying no to do follow links too! It’s not worth putting your blog at risk for.
    Aimee recently posted…The Dog House RescueMy Profile

  • Reply Amy August 9, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Yup I still get asked for follow links, although only by brands that I wouldn’t want to work with anyway – the ones that are a bit more professional in the way they approach me anyway are always cool with no follow. I definitely wouldn’t risk it!
    Amy xx
    http://www.callmeamy.co.uk
    Amy recently posted…Summer AccessoriesMy Profile

  • Reply Ela August 9, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I had no idea what do-follow no-follow links are until a few months ago and I was always linking the products I was talking about even though they weren’t sponsored or anything. After finding out what it is, I had to add those code to the WP so whenever I add a link, I can pick which one I want. I put internal links as do-follow but the rest are no-follow. If you don’t want to get penalty from Google and be ranked lowest, it is best to be careful about it. Companies just think about themselves so they still insist on do-follow since the penalty won’t really affect them. x
    Ela recently posted…Garnier Micellar Oil Infused Cleansing WaterMy Profile

    • Reply Corinne August 14, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      Yeah, a lot of bloggers don’t realise! It took me about a year to find it out.

  • Reply Sarah August 9, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    I’ve had requests for links to be changed in the past as a ‘nice gesture’ or a ‘favour’, even when no money or product has been exchanged for any links and/or write ups on the blog. When I’ve pointed out this is not good practice some brands have gotten really pissy with me. Fact is, my blog is a hobby, I have a day job, as much as I might like to have your money, I’m not risking jumping through flames to get it. Jog on.

    Sarah 🙂
    Saloca in Wonderland
    Sarah recently posted…Things I forgot to take to ScotlandMy Profile

  • Reply Rowena @ rolala loves August 10, 2016 at 1:27 am

    I always say no when I get requests for do-follow links. It’s just not worth the risk to my site to have them and I definitely don’t want to get penalized by Google.
    Rowena @ rolala loves recently posted…Innarah Eye Treatment Ultra-Hydrating Eye CrèmeMy Profile

  • Reply Shireen L. Platt August 11, 2016 at 3:45 am

    I had zero idea about no and do follow links for years up to a couple of months ago when I started accepting sponsored post. A very good blogger friend pointed it out to me and slowly explained it to me so I changed all my PR posts to no-follow links. I’m not taking risk, I worked so hard for my blog.
    Shireen L. Platt recently posted…My Thoughts on Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Collection Face PaletteMy Profile

  • Reply Stacey Loring August 12, 2016 at 4:25 am

    I was searching the web last night trying to understand the difference and I was even more confused then I was to begin with. Thank you so much for writing this in such a way a newb could understand. When I stumbled upon this in my Bloglovin feed, I was like, OMG, someone has heard my prayers. Ha ha.
    Stacey Loring recently posted…Shove Your Dog Friendly Store Up My AssMy Profile

  • Reply Aphrodite August 12, 2016 at 8:52 am

    What a coincidence!Yesterday i read a thread on twitter about that!Maybe this sounds silly but how i will know if a link is do follow or not!Most of the times brands don’t send me links to include!
    I just copy and paste links directly from their sites in order to use them for my post!
    I guess that’s a no follow link?
    Totally clueless over here haha

    xx Aphrodite ~ BubblyBeauty
    Aphrodite recently posted…How To Stay Motivated To Achieve Your GoalsMy Profile

  • Reply Fashion and Frappes August 13, 2016 at 6:54 am

    The reason some PRs ask and some bloggers are ok to use no-follow since their traffic source is not Google but they have a well built up social media or good reader list. I think the bigger issue is why some bloggers continue depending on Facebook for the views and get black-listed by Google. Facebook (and Instagram since now owned by FB) is not a dependable source at all and I would definitely trust Google over them.

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