Online Business FAQs: Should I Sell “Do Follow” Links to Marketers?

You may be approached by marketing agencies or individuals wanting to place a “do follow” link in your existing content, or offering a guest post in exchange for including a “do follow” link in it. Should you agree?

Absolutely NOT!

These “marketers” are trying to build “backlinks”. That’s because search engines often consider the number of links to a website (backlinks) to be an indication of a higher quality website. If they believe your website is of high quality, your ranking in search results improves.

When this algorithm became known, marketers began to focus on increasing the number of sites that link to their website. Some build links naturally and responsibly, while others buy links on websites in an attempt to manipulate the algorithm.

When search engines (namely Google) realized the algorithm was being exploited this way, they took steps to curb the practice. Consequently, any link you receive compensation for must be HTML tagged rel=”nofollow” and/or rel=”sponsored” to let Google know they should not count the link as natural (uncompensated). The “sponsored” tag was recently added to alert search engines specifically that the link is sponsored, while the “nofollow” tag may be phased out eventually or be applied to another specific situation.

Why Not?

We all like to generate more revenue from our websites and this seems like an easy way to do that. However, search engines may identify links without the “nofollow” or “sponsored” tag as attempts to exploit their link popularity/authority algorithms. When that happens, both your site and the site you’re linking to can be penalized with removal from search results. That’s going to cost you a lot more than you’ll ever make from facilitating these “black hat” marketing methods.

You can access the HTML (or text) of your content through most of today’s platforms. Add the link as you normally would, then switch to HTML/text to add the “rel=” tags to the link. It will look something like this:

…consider a Canadian registrar such as [a title=”HostPapaDomains” href=”https://canadiansinternet.com/get/hostpapadomains/” rel=”nofollow sponsored” target=”_blank”]HostPapa[/a]

[…]=<…>

If you use a plugin like PrettyLinks, your links will automatically be tagged “nofollow” and you can have the “sponsored” tag automatically included as well.

Sponsorship Disclosure

The same “marketers” will often ask that you not identify the post as sponsored in any way. Your response to that should also be an emphatic “no”, because this is where actual Canadian marketing laws and policies come into play.

The Competition Bureau of Canada has strict requirements for posting reviews and opinions online. In the U.S., the Competition Bureau’s counterpart is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If your readers are in the US, you must comply with FTC guidelines. If your readers are outside of North America, you’ll have to research each country’s laws to ensure you’re in compliance.

Please post your questions in the comments below, or discuss this and other online business topics in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.

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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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