A Link Is Not A Vote, It’s A Pointer

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Loren’s note about the article by Graywolf that talks about Google’s changing and unwritten policy on the usage of the nofollow tag got me thinking and leave a pretty long comment at Michael’s Blog. I thought that the premise is worth writing about in its own article. So here it is.

Everybody talks about that a link is a positive vote for another web page by the webmaster who adds the link to his site.

This might be true for the majority of links but can not be automatically assumed for any link. People also link to pages and sites they complain about. Maybe not you, the reader of the this blog, who thinks about stuff like SEO, Ranking, “Linkjuice” etc. , but the people that don’t know about this stuff. They link to the site they rant about to make sure that the reader is perfectly clear about who and what they are complaining about.

A better word for a link is “pointer” and not “vote”. Imagine that no search engines exists and think about what a link would be good for and what all links have in common. They have in common that they are relevant to the context they are being placed in.

Links that are the exception are untargeted advertising that is just slammed on the page based on general site demographics and similar criteria. This form of advertising is loosing effectiveness more and more and is by most teenagers of the “MySpace” generation ignored completely already.

Relevance does not mean recommendation. If search engines would understand the context and meaning of content like humans do, they would rank a bad service for example very high for negative keywords and phrases if a lot of post pointing to it are talking negative about it and rank higher services that are talked about in a positive manner.

The “Vote” or recommendation (which can be the recommendation NOT to use a service or buy a product) is completely independent from the link.

If you review a product and are compensated for doing it, not like it and criticize it, because of that, you might still post the review and include the link, if the Advertiser wants you to. In reality would you probably give the advertiser your opinion and may be even recommendations how to make the product better and suggest that you don’t publish it.

You would not pay back the compensation received, if you got it for the review, your time basically.  The fact that an advertiser reaches out and asks for reviews and listens to feedback is by itself already a positive thing which of course influences the review in a for the advertiser favorable way.

If you love the product or service you did a paid review for, you will recommend it honestly to your audience. Adding a nofollow to the link to the product or service would not reflect what search engines will understand because of the added nofollow. Instead of telling the search engines that you do a positive vote for the product are you telling them that it is not and your opinion was bought.

Sure, there are people that can be bought and promote something where they know that it is crap, but how long will they be able to recommend junk to people? Don’t you think that people will realize what is going on? A dishonest person will loose their reputation and trust or not build any, if they start lying right off the bat.

There are also the cases of a neutral point of view. A link would not be a vote about the product or service at all, but a simple pointer that makes aware of its existence, no more and no less.

This said, don’t add nofollow to affiliate links or links from a paid review. If you feel the need to add the attribute, don’t add the link at all.

Unfortunately is this not how Google see’s it and I use myself the nofollow tag in cases where I actually  recommend the target site, but added the attribute to make Google happy. This makes me sick, because it is a lie. I am an affiliate marketer, something a passionate blogger who wants to make his passion his profession should consider as basis to make a living.

There is nothing wrong with earning a commission for a referral of a reader you honestly recommend a product or service you like. Making a living via helping other people to find the right stuff to solve their problems is actually very fulfilling and positive. A fact that did not get around at the big search engines yet. Most people are actually good and yes, there will always be the people that abuse this system for their own short term financial benefits. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You also don’t put everybody in jail because there are a few criminals that break the law.

It’s late and I hope that I still make sense, but I think you get the general idea.

Carsten Cumbrowski
Internet Marketer and Entrepeneur – 2 more years to the green card.
Webmaster of Cumbrowski.com, the Internet Marketing Resources Portal, including affiliate marketing, SEM/PPC and search engine optimization.

 

 

Carsten Cumbrowski
Carsten Cumbrowski has years of experience in Affiliate Marketing and knows both sides of the business as the Affiliate and Affiliate Manager. Carsten has over... Read Full Bio
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