Nofollow links, dofollow links. What’s all the fuss about them? What do they even mean?
Explained in the simplest way, a nofollow link is a link with a rel="nofollow" HTML tag applied to it.
Normally, when search engines crawl web pages, they follow any links present on the page. This also has the ability to make the linked page rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
However, when you add a nofollow tag to a link on your page, it tells the search engines to not follow that link. As a result, nofollow links do not pass PageRank and hence, don’t impact search engine rankings—most of the time, at least.
How is Nofollow Different from Dofollow?
A link without a nofollow tag is a dofollow link. This is actually the default state of links. Dofollow links pass PageRank, and hence, impact search results. Simply put, a nofollow link is a link with a nofollow tag.
It’s impossible for you to tell the difference between nofollow and dofollow links just by looking at them. However, with search engine optimization, it's a whole different ball game.
Dofollow links help a page's search engine rankings and nofollow links don’t.
When you link to other sites in your articles, you pass PageRank or link juice to them. This is quite important in search engine rankings because it tells them that the link page has a lot of useful content. The higher the number of external links to that site, the higher it ranks, because Google wants to present this useful information to more readers. This used to be the default state of links.
However, people started spamming links to rank pages that don’t really provide value. A person could go to the comments of different blogs, pasting links to a particular page. This page would get a lot of link juice and as a result, rank higher in the SERPs—yes, even if it has no shred of valuable content.
Hence, Google helped develop the nofollow tag and rolled it into their algorithm, Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo followed suit and things began to change.
According to Google, generally, nofollow links do not pass PageRank, and hence, do not affect SEO, but this is not always the case. Some experiments have shown that nofollow links could, in fact, affect SEO. Of course, dofollow links are much better for ranking, however, nofollow links create diversity, can help with traffic, and can indirectly help with SEO.
To check if a link is nofollow or otherwise, right-click on the page in your browser and click “View page source”.
An HTML of the page will load. Look for the link on this page.
A rel="nofollow" attribute attached to the link indicates that it is nofollowed. If there’s no such tag, it’s a dofollow.
Nofollow Links and Affiliate Marketing
Should I use nofollow on affiliate links? This is quite a common question.
Adding affiliate links to your site, if you do it right, is no doubt a great way to generate passive, continuous revenue. This is how our entire affiliate marketing business model works and we've outlined it in this affiliate guide.
However, like we mentioned, search engines (Google in this case) crawls and indexes your website. It also follows any links present in your content, thereby passing some authority to them. Ordinarily, there's no problem with this (unless you're using black hat methods).
But, with affiliate links, you're linking to sales pages; a whole lot of them! And inadvertently, you pass link juice to them. So, how do you bypass this?
The solution is to make them nofollowed. In fact, according to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, all links with a paid relationship (including affiliate links), should be nofollowed.
Ordinarily, Google should be able to distinguish affiliate links and not rank them, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Like other links, when you add affiliate links to your wordpress site, they are automatically added as dofollow links; in other words, they can pass some link juice to the site.
With affiliate marketing, these links can quickly pile up, putting you at risk of being penalized.
You can avoid this by simply telling the search engines not to follow those links with a simple (rel="nofollow") tag.
Your visitors can't see this, and they can't tell the difference between Nofollow and dofollow links just by looking. Also, it won’t affect your SEO in any way.
Your referrals clicking your link will still count as they would and you'll still get your commission when they buy, sign up, or perform any other required actions.
As this has become the requirement from Google, it's also possible that the links you get from advert providers and affiliate programs are already set to nofollow. But you should check, just to make sure.
What About Amazon Affiliate Links?
Not all affiliate links are equal.
Amazon is one of the biggest online marketing platforms with millions, maybe billions of affiliate links on the web pointing to it. As such, one would think that Google should be able to treat Amazon affiliate links like royalty.
But one thing is sure: whether you dofollow Amazon affiliate links or you nofollow them, it won't probably won't move their page rankings even an inch.
So, maybe, just maybe, you won't be penalized for leaving them as dofollow links. But you know what they say: better safe than sorry.
You're better off not taking chances. It's not a difficult thing to do. Add those rel="nofollow" tags to your pages and you're good to go.
As for whether having too many nofollow links on your page will hurt your ranking, then, no. You have nothing to worry about there. In fact, you're doing the right thing.
Adding a Nofollow Tag to Amazon Affiliate Links
Having established why you should use a Nofollow rag on your affiliate links, how do you achieve that?
It's simple, really.
1. Manual Method
If you're just starting out with Amazon affiliate marketing, you can manually add a nofollow tag to your links.
Once you've located the link you want to change, add the rel="nofollow" attribute after the link, but before the first ">" sign.
For example, if this is your link:
<a href="http://myaffiliatelink.com">text to the link</a>
You want to add the rel="nofollow" tag like this:
<a href="http://myaffiliatelink.com" rel="nofollow">Text to the link</a>
Once added, you can then update your site, and that's it. Your affiliate link is now a nofollow link.
2. Automatic Method: Add & Replace Amazon Affiliate Links Plugin
If you're just starting out, you can go the manual route. But, what if you already have tens or hundreds of pages, and more of amazon affiliate links?
What if you don't even want to go the manual route, whether you're just starting out or not? Well, there's a solution: the Add & Replace Amazon Affiliate Links Plugin.
The Add & Replace Amazon Affiliate Links Plugin can convert all Amazon links on your site to nofollow links. Heck, it can even replace Amazon links with affiliate (nofollow) links; all with a single click.The plugin works by replacing your Amazon affiliate link's "&tag=ID-20" with a new one with the no-follow attribute added.
However, even if you have Amazon links without the "&tag=ID-20", the plugin will generate one for them.
What makes this plugin even better is that even if your links are shortened, it will automatically replace them with full URLs and add your &tag=ID as well. It can be used on a new website or on an existing one to bulk add or replace your Amazon affiliate links.
Even if you frequently upload articles, the plugin has a 24-hour check feature to ensure that each Amazon link is as it should be. As a side note, this plugin was born from understanding a particular pain point of our readers. That is, how much time it takes to replace affiliate tags.
Downloading the plugin is quite easy. It is available on WordPress.org, here.
Alternatively, you can go to your WordPress site, click “Plugins”, click “Add New,” and then type “Add & Replace Affiliate Links for Amazon.” Just make sure it's “By Hekkup”.
After downloading and uploading the plugin on your Wordpress site, install, activate, and launch it. Click backup to make a backup, enter the tracking code, and click update. That's it. Your links will be updated automatically.
Even if you uninstall the plugin, everything stays intact. Really smooth, right?
Are Nofollow Links popular?
Currently, inbound links from blog comments, forum posts, social media (like Facebook posts), some blogs and news sites, and more, are generally nofollow links. Sites like Medium, Quora, Wikipedia, Reddit, and more, generally use the nofollow tag on their outbound links.
You should note that Quota and Reddit may change your links to dofollow if your answer or thread goes viral.
Use Nofollow Links to Preserve Authority
So the answer to your question - 'Should I use nofollow on affiliate links' is yes.
Will you get penalized if you don't? Maybe not, if you're willing to take the risk. But what if you are penalized?
A general business rule is to take calculated risks. Leaving your affiliate links as dofollow is certainly not one of them. Plus, you have nothing to lose if you make them nofollow!