In life, if you don’t follow the rules, then you have to be prepared to pay the penalties. That’s true even if you don’t know the rules.
Google recently updated its Webmaster Guidelines with an important new rule regarding the use of links, specifically anchor-text links, in content published online. If you run afoul of it, your website likely will be penalized. To explain what HCM providers need to know, here are the answers to five questions about the rule:
1. What is the New Rule?
Google now requires that any links that could be construed as being paid be given the “rel nofollow” attribute to ensure PageRank is not passed along to the page being linked to (you can find information from Google about this issue here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en).
If this confuses you, read on. We’ll clear it up.
2. What are the Dangers of Not Complying?
If you don’t play by Google’s rules, you could face extreme penalties. A company that repeatedly breaks the “new law of online linking” could have its website delisted on Google, or it could drop from page 1 of search results for a given keyword phrase to page 2 or 10 (or worse). Either can have devastating impacts, and it can take an extensive amount of time to get relisted or to recover your ranking.
3. What Types of Content are Impacted by the Rule?
The most significant content type that needs “nofollow” links is any press release located outside of your web properties. This includes press releases that are distributed through online “wire” services. But any other type of content that Google could deem as being “paid” content should also have “nofollow” links. Examples could include guest blog posts and paid article placements. If you are not sure whether or not your news distribution service conforms to the new rule, ask them–or contact HRmarketer and we’ll let you know. Those who are using HRmarketer software for press release distribution are OK.
4. What Does the “Nofollow” Tag Look Like
First, it’s important to remember that the rule affects anchor-text links. An anchor-text link is a link hidden under text. In the examples below, the words “anchor text” are the anchor text, while the links go to HRmarketer.com:
This is a link to HRmarketer.com with “nofollow” in the anchor text.
Here is the HTML: <a href="http://www.hrmarketer.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">anchor text</a>
This is a link to HRmarketer.com without “nofollow” in the anchor text.
Here is the HTML: <a href="http://www.hrmarketer.com/" target="_blank">anchor text</a>
Note that the two sentences look the same. The only difference is that Google doesn’t follow the first link (that’s good), but will follow the second link (that’s bad).
5. What Can You Do?
A: Make sure that third-party websites (including press release distribution services) or agencies that are posting your press releases are using “nofollow.” As we mentioned, those who are using HRmarketer’s press release distribution system are OK, as our distribution partners all use “nofollow” links, as do our syndication sites.
B: If you are unsure whether Google will view a link as being paid, then err on the side of caution and use “nofollow” links. For example, even if a guest blog post isn’t a paid opportunity, it’s best to use “nofollow” links.
C. Don’t worry about using “nofollow” links on your website or blog. You want the links there to be followed, so that they can benefit your SEO.
D. Stay on top of the rules! Or make sure your marketing/PR firm knows them. The rules have been changing rapidly, and Google (and other search engines) will continue to make adjustments that affect how search rankings are determined, and should affect your SEO strategies.
E. Look for an upcoming post on this blog to learn about other ways to get visibility for your news announcements, now that Google has eliminated press releases’ “link juice” SEO benefit.
Post written by HRmarketer / SocialEars HR team member Andy Benkert.
Labels: Andy Benkert, nofollow links, seo