I’ve been writing on the web since 2008. And since then, I’ve seen websites come and go. It’s often dizzying to see how quickly a site can rise, only to fall and never be seen again. I’ve seen pages that rank for a year or more for certain keywords, and then simply…vanish. Sometimes I’ve been privy to the “strategies” used by these sites since the owners would talk to me about what they were doing. And I’ve learned since then, that above all, you should be safe. This is specially true when it comes to link practices for SEO.
Here are three link-based practices that either provide no benefit for SEO or can actively harm your site.
1. Don’t Use “Nofollow” for Internal Links
When Google still used to regularly update the metric called “PageRank”, obviously everyone would try and get as high a number as possible. To do this, they would use all kinds of strange techniques to maximize the perceived value of their important pages. One of those techniques is called “PageRank” sculpting, and there are still some people who use it today.
Essentially, it consists of using the “nofollow” attribute for all internal links on a site other than for links to important pages. The idea is that PageRank is a limited quantity that “flows” from one page to another via links, and so you maximize the PageRank of your important pages by nofollowing links to all other internal pages.
So why is this a bad idea? To start with, it should make your internal radar go off because it’s trying to be a little too cute. Google’s algorithm takes into account a wide range of websites, and to think that you can game the system using such a technicality is naïve.
To be clear, I have no evidence that this harms your site. But there’s zero evidence that it benefits it either. Given the stakes involved, if PageRank sculpting worked, I can guarantee you that every site would be doing it. And once that happened, search engines would take that into account and put a stop.
Also, it’s hard to maintain. So don’t do it.
2. Don’t Use Guestbooks for Link Building
I’ve seen some website owners get desperate for links, and start submitting their site to all kinds of weird places in hopes of getting their link profile up. Some sites offer “guestbooks” with dofollow links, which are nothing but magnets for spam. Just imagine a blog comments section without nofollow!
The best bet is to build high-quality links slowly, instead of trying to trick the system with dozens of backlinks. This kind of thing only drops you further in the rankings, and you can easily get a manual penalty as well.
3. Don’t Mask Affiliate Links
Google recommends that you just nofollow them, or maybe use the new rel=”sponsored” link attribute instead.
However, like with the first one, I suggest you don’t try and get too cute. It’s hard to predict the impact of these changes, and even if you succeed in hiding these links, one day will change its code and it’ll suddenly see hundreds of affiliate links, and who knows how that might impact your site rankings? Ideally, you want your site to walk the straight and narrow, and no indulge in any unusual technical schemes that might trip you up later. Even if everything’s going fine right now, it can come back to bite you.
Hopefully, these three link-based practices will give you a feel for what you should avoid in the future as well!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!