Blogging is hard, you have so many things to do and it seems like getting a little free money just for adding a link to a blog post might be a great idea.
Here are some tips and ideas about why you should stay REALLY far away from this revenue channel!
please note :: I often recommend resources, some I receive an affiliate commission for at no additional cost to you! check out my policies here
SUPER SIMPLE ANSWER
First off, if you want to know the answer, here you go…
Yes! Anytime advertisers pay you for a link, you should mark it as “nofollow” or “sponsored”. This can include being paid for a link, writing a sponsored post or even getting something for free to review.
Why Do They Want A Link From Your Site?
I just want to reassure you for one wee minute here, I am going to have “real talk” in this post so you can finally understand why it is so bad to accept creepy, sponsored links!
First let's talk about why these spammers want a link from your blog!
You have been working your face off, writing blog posts and doing your best to be trusted resource for your readers and now FINALLY, you are starting to get emails offering to pay money for “advertising” on your website… Hallelujah!
And as you can tell I am all for advertising… I am with the ad network Mediavine and love the income I am getting from my blog.
So the answer to why they want a link is… your blog is trusted by your readers and Google!
That is a really good thing that you have worked super hard for and now maybe you can get a little income from it?!?!
The problem is that when a user clicks a link from your site, they think they are going to a site that you legitimately recommend that product or resource.
How is accepting a paid link from someone any different than getting paid for ads on your site?
More about that in a little bit, but first, let's talk about how the internet works…. I PROMISE, it will be interesting!
Additional Resource :: Should You Put Ads On Your Website?
Why Do They Want A “Do Follow” Link?
Back in the olden days of search engines (like 2001) the directories were just huge lists of websites without any filtering for what is good or bad.
Then Google came along and said they would use links from trusted websites as a signal that content is good and should be trusted too.
So when you are writing a roundup post and link to a really great recipe or craft project that you like, it SHOULD be a regular (“do follow”) link. You ARE saying that it is a good post and you like it for real.
But when you get paid for a random, out of the blue link, Google wants to know you got paid to link to them (or if you have a paid sponsored post, or even if someone just sent you something for free to review).
In that case you can link without any trouble as long as you “tell” Google you got paid by saying the link is not random by “marking” it NO FOLLOW.
Additional Resource :: How To Use Gutenberg Reusable Blocks To Sell Courses and Ebooks
Tips That They Are Spamming Blog Owners
Before we talk about why it is so bad to accept these links, I want to show you what the emails you might get will look like!
The Sponsored Link Emails
Here are a couple of the emails I have gotten in the last few days from spammers looking to “drop a link” in my site….
We are trying to create awareness regarding our Technology, SEO, Writing and video sites which are Easily accessible available to users worldwide. How about starting a collaboration and making a collective effort? You can help us by placing a piece of writing (Article/Link) on your website. The price is negotiable if you are interested.Tech company
See that “Easily” in the middle of normal words. Weird spellings and capitalizations are a good indicator that you are seeing a bad person. Also they are offering to pay me without us even talking first… ick!
We want to know is there an opportunity to add dofollow link of our products to this post on your website for permanent? Kindly tell us the price for this link insertion.Manufacturing company
Whoa, this is just a blatant question about adding a permanent “do follow” backlink in blog that they will pay for… wow!
Greetings & Salutations
You will also notice that they are not even bothering to find your name out, they are just sending blast emails out to anyone with a site.
- Hi dear,
- Hey There,
And this is a HUGE problem! They didn't find your blog, figured out if it was a good fit and then thoughtfully decide to contact you.
They are sending hundreds (thousands?) of emails out to see if they can get anyone to bite.
Email Subject Lines
This is what the subject lines will look like in these kinds of emails. They will be complimenting you and saying nice things that make you feel like they really are appreciating your site specifically!
- RE RE Pitching an idea for marketingartfully.com
- Hey Tara, Huge Fan of Your Work!
- Request For Sponsor Post
- I am interested in your content. Paid option.
I love the lady who has two “RE”‘s like we have been talking back and forth and she is just following up. That kind of manipulation is normal for these companies!
What Google Says
So why are these links so bad?
Adding paid for links without mentioning that you have been paid can get your blog post or even your whole site banned from Google's search engine results page permanently.
Yep, if you have lots of these kinds of paid links, your site goes from being a trusted resource in Google to being a spammy site that could get banned forever!
Here is Matt Cutts, Google guy, to explain why it is bad…
No Follow or Sponsored Links
Recently Google added an additional kind of link attribution called “Sponsored” to how you can mark your links. Starting at 2:09 you can hear more about it!
MOST IMPORTANT THING >> Why It Is So Bad To Add These Links!
Okay, that is the “official” version of why these links are so bad, here is real reason they are HORRIBLE to add!
Remember how I said they were sending those emails to hundreds or thousands of site owners, many like you who are just trying to make a little bit of money and thinking it isn't so bad?
Well Google is super smart and they will eventually find one or two of those links and realized they were sponsored, but still marked as “follow” like yours will be.
And then they will search for EVERY SITE that has those links and find your website with your “do follow” link and know you probably got paid for that link too!
Your trust with Google for that page will go down to nothing and you will probably lose any ranking on that post. But wait, it gets worse, much worse…
If Google decides it doesn't trust you at all now because you posted spammy links, you could get what is called a “Manual Action” and lose ALL your Google rankings!
You will then have to scour through your website and find any bad links and fix them, then go back to Google and tell them you cleaned up your act.
This is SO not worth the $20 or $50 that someone will pay you to put a bad link on your real website!
So can you ever add links to your website? SURE if it something that you really are interested in or that is a legitimate request.
For example, both of these companies approached me with a real ask to look at their products as a marketing strategy and wanted to see if it was something that I would include with a link…
Maria who wanted to tell me about their tech services…
…I thought it would also make an excellent addition to your article and a great reference for your readers.Tech company, Maria
And Diksha who wanted to write a guest post on my site…
If you're interested then I'll send you a few content ideas in the next email or feel free to share your ideas with me.Freelance writer, Diksha
Now, I don't accept guest posts, but some site owners do and including an author bio link in return for a free article isn't the worst thing in the world to do.
That said, understand they are contacting LOTS of sites like yours and may even be doing other black hat campaigns that could get you in trouble down the line so be careful even with these ones that seem legit!
What If A Sponsor Asks You To Make A Follow Link?
One of the reasons I wanted to write this post is that in a Facebook group for bloggers a gal recently said her post sponsor asked her to make the link out a “do follow” link.
Please understand this, a legitimate company will never ask you to break the rules!
If a company you are working with asks to make a “do follow” link just say no, you don't do that and move on (even if you haven't gotten paid yet… sigh). It is not worth adding fraudulent links to your site for money!
Additional No Follow Resources
Here are some additional resources to help you understand follow and no follow! (they are “follow” links because I trust them as resources and I wasn't paid to link to them!)
- Nofollow vs. Follow Links: Everything You Need to Know – ahrefs
- Qualify your outbound links to Google – Google Search Console Help
- Link schemes – Google Help
Sponsored Links For Bloggers Wrapup
Whew, that got crazy long, super fast but I wanted to make sure you understood the ramifications of messing around with bad links like this!
I promise you, no one came out of the womb understanding all these nuances and ALL of us have made mistakes in the past.
But now that you understand everything that goes into getting paid for links, you know which ones are good to take and which ones aren't!