What are “Nofollow” Links and When to Use Them

Disclaimer: The information about nofollow links in this post is true as of October 31, 2017. The information may change in the future and may even differ for various search engines. So, please take the article with a pinch of salt and always be on the lookout for any algorithm updates in the future.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO—a term most of us are familiar with. But SEO isn’t just about researching and using keywords in your posts. There’s much, much more to it.

The trouble is no one really has the complete list of guidelines that will help you rank your posts on the first page of search results. As a result, most of us spend hours agonizing about keyword research and usage. This is not to say it isn’t important or necessary—it sure is, but there are a few other smaller things you must do to get in the good books of search engines, especially Google.

Did you know Google can penalize your website (i.e. affect your ranking) if you do not follow their guidelines pertaining to link listings?

For example, while writing a sponsored post, you will create a backlink to your sponsor’s website at some point in your post. Any backlink to a certain website adds to the website’s trustworthiness. But the problem is you are being paid to create this “trust factor”—a big no-no! So, for such link listings, you must apply what is known as a “nofollow” attribute.

The What, When, and How of Nofollow LinksThe What, When, and How of Nofollow Links

Dofollow Links Vs. Nofollow Links

Most links, by default, have the “dofollow” attribute enabled. Which is why SEO experts consider guest posting and commenting so important in driving organic traffic to your website.

When you guest post on another person’s website, they will typically allow you to add one or two backlinks to your website in your post. One way to look at it is the exposure you are gaining by posting your content and backlinks. That aside, every backlink to your website adds more credibility to you being a domain authority, and thereby, your ranking.

Similarly, by commenting on other people’s blogs and leaving your website URL behind, you create more and more backlinks for yourself. Nowadays platforms such as WordPress and Blogger have set links in comments as “nofollow” by default.

When it comes to big companies, the stakes are exponentially higher. Imagine how many people must be linking to their website and/or product listings. A high percentage of these listings is paid and therefore, segregated from genuine backlinks. This is where the “nofollow” attribute comes into the picture.

When search engines find “nofollow” links, they know these must be excluded from their influence-building algorithm (don’t know what else to call it :-)). In other words, these links do not influence the page ranking of the website.

How to Create Nofollow Links

There are two ways of doing this—using plugins or manually.

Plugin Method

There are several plugins available for WordPress that will allow you to mark select or all external links as “nofollow” links. One plugin I have used in the past and liked is the “Ultimate Nofollow” plugin. It’s easy to use.

Alternatively, just search in the WordPress directory for the one you want to try out (keyword: nofollow).

Manual Method

I find the manual method more reliable compared to using a plugin. Additionally, every new plugin takes up web space and slows down your website. So, choose your plugins carefully.

When you create a link, it looks like this in the HTML view:

<a href=”http://www.YourLink.com”>YourLink</a>

This is an example of a “dofollow” link even though the words “dofollow” are not spelled out.

Search engines will consider http://www.YourLink.com as an endorsement of quality content. This will push the link higher in the search results.

Conversely, if you are endorsing a website because they paid you for it, you have to enable the “nofollow” attribute. This is how it will look in the HTML view:

<a href=”http://www.YourLink.com” rel=“nofollow”>YourLink</a>

This link will not count towards link building for the website.

When Should You Use “Nofollow” Links

Affiliate or Sponsored Links

First and foremost, any time you are being paid to write about a brand, all backlinks to the brand’s website must be set to “nofollow”.

Display Advertisements

Embedding third-party display advertisements, such as via Google AdSense and Media.net, on your website is a very common method of earning revenue. Make sure the HTML codes of these advertisements have the “nofollow” attribute included.

Non-example or Offensive Website

It’s possible you want to mention a certain website as a non-example. For instance, maybe you are listing websites that are not safe for the work environment or for children. You want your readers to know about these websites, so you link them. But you do not want to endorse these websites by creating legit backlinks.

General Non-endorsement

This is similar to the previous point. Often, you will cite another website to make a point but are not necessarily endorse them. For example, you may embed someone else’s YouTube video to illustrate something. But that doesn’t mean you want to specifically endorse that channel. Make the link “nofollow”.

I hope you found this post useful and will keep the pointers in mind. For more information, please read this detailed article about “nofollow” links (I have set the link to “nofollow” :-))

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The What, When, and How of Nofollow Links

How to Grab Your Readers’ Attention

According to a Nielsen report, “on the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.” So, if you wrote a 1000-word blog post, your reader will read only 280 words of your post. Wanna bet most of those words will be in your post’s introduction?

I have written about this earlier too: before even knowing the relevance of a post, your audience must be ready to pay attention to your writing. And you have about 15 seconds to do so.

Why Do You Need to Grab Your Readers’ Attention?

How many of you deal or have dealt with a toddler or a preschooler? There are times when you are fighting tooth and nail to gain their attention but they are busy doing something else. I face it every day…especially during meal times. My son is so lost in his own world playing with blocks or simply daydreaming that I often have to raise my voice to divert his attention back to the meal in front of him.

Your readers are distracted toddlers too.

Very few visit your blog intentionally to read your words (and for those of you who have loyal fans, kudos!). Most people land on your website via a search engine, as part of their blog hop, or because of a social media promotion thread both of you are participating in…while still having other tabs open or the television running in the background.

Once they are on your website, how do you ensure they don’t hit the Close / Back button immediately? Grab their attention such that they are happy to stay on your website for longer than they signed up for. However, to do this, you have only 15 seconds. That isn’t much! But there are a few things you can do to facilitate this.

How to Grab Your Readers’ Attention

Most readers on a webpage have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit. Here's how you can grab their attention and make them stay.

When your visitors land on your website, they will be either on your website’s homepage/landing page or on an individual post/page. Therefore, it is important not only to make your website pretty and functional but also your posts exciting and compelling.

 At the Website Level

  • Streamline your interface and make it functional: First impressions matter. When visitors land on your website, the first thing they will notice is the face of your website, i.e., the interface/theme. A cluttered website confuses and repels new visitors because they don’t know where to focus. Ensure your theme is minimal and streamlined. Additionally, focus on easy navigation. Pay special attention to your sidebar. Populate your sidebar only with the essential items, or better still, lose it completely. If you embed advertisements, ensure they complement your website’s aesthetics.
  • Utilize your sidebar effectively: If you choose to go with a sidebar, consider adding a small About blurb along with your photo to encourage personal connection with your readers. I always find it useful to know about the blog owner right on the home page. Alternatively (or in conjunction), consider adding your most successful opt-in offers to collect sign-ups.
  • Use your Header area to communicate: Utilize the header area intelligently. Instead of displaying a one-foot-long image, use this area to convey what your website visitors will stand to gain from your blog—state the benefits. One way of doing this is to use a tagline that conveys the mission of your blog.

At an Individual Post / Page Level

So, your visitors approve of your website. However, that still doesn’t guarantee a read because they are not your (loyal) readers yet.

Each page of your website (About, Legal, Resources, etc.) should be written in simple language and laser-focused on the task. These are not the places to experiment with your creativity. Sure you can organize the content in a specific manner but keep the content of these pages straightforward and to the point. If readers want to know about you, give them that; if they want to know about your privacy policy, give them that. Simplicity and functional are the two keywords for individual pages of your website.

Now, coming to individual posts, it’s a whole different story. You have the opportunity to impress your reader with a phenomenal opening to each of your posts. This is not to say the rest of your post can survive being crappy but the introduction is what will decide whether your visitor will stay for longer. Without a quality opening paragraph, forget any response from your visitors.

No time to read the tips below? Download the summary sheet.

Tips to Grab Your Readers’ Attention

Here are some ideas to write blog openings that will get your visitors interested in what you have to say.

  • Go top-down: The first peep into your awesome post is through your headline. It’s the awesome trailer to your even-more-awesome blog movie. It is, therefore, imperative you spend quality time coming up with a headline.
    1. Start with 8-10 headlines (difficulty level: extreme!)—read them aloud; see how they flow. Make each word count because not every visitor will read your post, but they will read your headline for sure.
      • Make them catchy and emotion-driven.
      • Make them about your reader (try using second-person pronouns).
    2. Then, run all the headlines through analyzer tools, such as CoSchedule, to test their effectiveness. Here’s an excellent article on the magic of headlines.
    3. In the end, narrow it down to 3-5 headlines.
      • Use the highest scorer as your blog post headline, and the remaining headlines for your social media graphics.
  • Nail the opening: Once you are past the headline, it’s time to write a killer introduction. Your one and only job at this time is to write an introduction that will not only highlight the relevance or benefit of your blog post but also pique their interest. Use any of the following techniques:
    • Present striking statistics / facts / quotes
      • Numbers resonate with people and can even influence their thinking about certain subjects. Do your research about the subject matter of your post (where applicable) and present your findings using colorful charts and graphs.
      • Alternatively, present striking facts (such as “did you know that…”) that will make your readers go “whoa”.
      • And quotes, well, who doesn’t love those?!
    • Open with a problem statement
      • Use a personal story, famous quote, or just create a scenario to talk about the problem you are about to address in your post.
        • Use superlative examples to invoke a sense of hope/positivity
        • Use negative / mediocre examples to invoke a sense of disruption / shock / controversy
      • Invite reader interaction: Readers love to interact because it gives them a sense of control. Ask your readers to state their opinions on the subject of the post using interactive elements, such as a survey/poll.
      • Use multimedia: Using powerful visual or aural mediums help evoke strong emotional reactions. This, in turn, creates a highly receptive mindset for your story.
        • Images / Graphics / Animation
        • Newspaper clipping/essay excerpt
        • Video
        • Audio
      • Cartoon / Humor: When all else fails, humor saves. Enough said!

Don’t be afraid to restrict these elements only to your post opener though. Experiment with them midway or toward to ending to break the text monotony. It’s not unusual for your readers to remain on the website but completely zoned out. Mixing up your presentation elements will keep them alert and interested.

What are some of your tried-and-tested methods of grabbing your readers’ attention? Share in the comments below.

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Most readers on a webpage have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit. Here's how you can grab their attention and make them stay.

6 Lessons from My First 6 Months of Blogging

I have officially crossed the much-acclaimed six-month mark in the blogging world. Yay! I think six months is a good enough time to test the waters and find out if one is cut out for the blogging world. I know I am! During these first six months, I have learned about the backend of the blog, a basic idea of how to identify and attract the right kind of audience, how to create useful content upgrades, etc. But there’s so much more to learn.

You guys, I started blogging with some idea about the hard work that needs to be put in. That’s because I spent a lot of time researching the ins and outs of professional blogging before I decided to take the plunge. What I didn’t anticipate is how addictive this profession is, especially when you start seeing some traction, as I am starting to see. I often find myself sinking deeper into my work even when my preschooler is home. I have to constantly remind myself to stop but it’s difficult to tear away from the screen. I am working on this aspect with all my might because nothing in the world can be worth more than my family time. They are the reason I quit my high-paying corporate job though I continued working part-time to quench my creative thirst (I have been creating online courses for 15 years now—I started long before it hit the professional blogging market).

But I digress.

In honor of crossing the six-month mark, I am sharing six things I have learned about professional blogging during this time.

6 Months. 6 Lessons. 1 Blog’s Journey

Six lessons I have learned about professional blogging during my first six months of being a blogger.

All links prefixed with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. Any purchase you make by clicking these links will earn me a small commission but will not require any additional cost from you. For more details, please read my Disclosure Policy.

1. Define your business vision and goal(s) when you start…and take your time doing this.

Why do you want to take up professional blogging? Make sure you are doing it because you want to give back in some way. Sure, all of us want to earn an income from our blogs, but that’s for the service you will be providing to your readers. Here’s the thing: the blogs that blow up within the first six months are few and far between. For the rest of us mortal souls, it will push your limits and then some more. Without a vision, these are the times, many will abandon the ship because they were in it only for the income and that’s nowhere in sight. Your vision is your driving force, and often, subjective and emotion-driven. Earning 1 million dollars is NOT your vision; helping others realize their financial dreams is—the keyword being ‘helping.’

On to goals, determine your objective, number-driven goal that will help you deliver your vision. What can you do to ‘help’ others but grow your own business? Writing goals help you gauge your growth strategy and progress. It includes statements like x number of subscribers by xyz date; $x amount of sales by abc date; etc.

The vision statement is your ‘why’ while the goal statement(s) is your ‘how’.

Note:

  • Write your goals in a statement format so that it is in alignment with your vision.
  • Make sure your big goal funnels up to your vision, and your small goals funnel up to your big goal.
  • When defining your goals (big and small), use the SMART goal-setting methodology.

2. Pay attention to data

Linking your website with Google Analytics is one of the most common pieces of advice you will come across in the blogging world—for good reason too. Business analysis is fundamental for any business—online or offline, big or small. Without studying your business data, you will not know about the direction your business should take.

Now, while I understand the importance of analytical tools, especially Google Analytics, I am far from mastering it. I do use it on a weekly basis to check my time on page, referrals, and demographics so I can tailor my content accordingly. I am sure there are a lot more cool things I can do with Google Analytics but I am saving those tricks for later (read: I am scared to even think about it). It used to break my heart to see a bounce rate of 70-80% but I recently learned that is the norm for new-ish blogs, not the exception. Phew! My aim is to bring down the bounce rate anyway.

Similarly, I use my Pinterest and Facebook Page analytics to check visitor counts, engagement rates, and demographics.

I realize I need to dive a little deeper into data, but for now, what I know serves me well.

(Note: If you have any recommendations about essential data to focus on, please feel free to leave a comment below, or send me an email at [email protected]. I shall be indebted.)

3. Invest money in your blogging business

You are a business owner and you need to invest money first before you can see any returns on it. I get it: it’s natural to keep your wallet close to you when you are just starting out. I have been there! I thought, “Oh why should I pay for information that I can find for free.” Makes complete sense but here’s the thing: as a business owner, time is money too. If you are okay with spending hours searching for content instead of spending it to create content and network, go right ahead. The other thing is the echo chamber effect. Often, the free content you find sounds similar because everyone (even a new business owner) is telling you the same thing…but those are just the basics. Nobody is going to give away a game-changing tactic free.

Let me give you an example: when I started blogging six months ago, everyone was talking about Pinterest being the next best thing. I read post after post advising to pin content 20-30-50-100 times a day. And to sign up for a business account. So I did. But it wasn’t until I enrolled in *Jen Snyder’s Find Your Tribe Online course that I learned about Pinterest aspects that free content doesn’t talk about, such as setting up your profile and types of pins that convert. *Jen’s course also helped me find and narrow down some amazing Facebook groups for networking and marketing.

*Find Your Tribe Online was the first course I invested in and I do not regret the expense one bit because the knowledge I gained from the course far outweighed the cost. My Pinterest monthly views have grown from about 50-75 to 25K+ in little over two months. It is also translating to increased blog traffic and more email signups for me.

So, go ahead and invest in your business. It may be a course to help you gain mastery over a certain topic, or it could an automation tool to save you time, or it could be a paid mastermind group to hold you accountable. Determine your business needs, research the available products, and start investing. It doesn’t need to be a big purchase because big is not always better!

Note:

  • Courses aside, please invest in an external hard drive or SSD card or cloud storage because your laptop WILL fill up fast and as a result processing WILL slow down. I learned it the hard way.
  • Be ready to invest time as well. You cannot grow your blog into a business by spending one hour a day on it. Or, maybe you can, but it will just take that much longer to see the returns. Schedule at least 3-4 hours a day to spend on your business. If you need help in the time management department, I have created a resource to help you to manage your time better. Hint: prioritization is key!

4. Sign up for all the big social media platforms but focus on only one (or two)

You have defined your vision and goal(s). You researched your niche and target audience. You have created awesome content that is in alignment with your business vision and goals and added keywords in strategic positions throughout the blog. Apparently, in the olden days, that was enough. You build and they will come.

Not anymore. Especially for a new blog owner, you are yet to build domain authority. Without that, Google is unlikely to rank your content on the first page.

So, what do you do? Do you just wait and watch? No, if they don’t come looking for you, you go seek them out. This is where the social media platforms come into play. People hang out on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc. a lot more than on Google search page. So, that’s where you go too.

Facebook groups are awesome mediums to promote your content actively.

*Suzi Whitford’s signature course, Blog By Numbers has an exhaustive list of Facebook groups you can join but she also puts her finger on her favorite ones. You are free to join and check out all of the groups she provides, or you could go with her recommendations. I definitely joined her recommended groups and I have also started identifying 3-5 groups that I want to continue in. These are groups I had previously joined on my own.

*In her course, Suzi also gives you access to a long list of Pinterest group boards, which are a big thing these days to promote your content. I’ll be honest: I haven’t joined too many group boards. I think I am part of just 4-5 such boards and I definitely need to pick up my pinning game on these boards. Who knows…maybe if I was active on these group boards, my numbers could have been even higher.

For now, Facebook is my focus and Pinterest comes a close second.

5. Create systems and processes for your blogging business

Once you have spent a few weeks on your blog, you will begin to see certain patterns emerging. These will relate to your posting schedule and techniques, your working process and schedule, your preferred social media platforms, etc. Pay attention to these patterns and see what you can do to simplify/automate and standardize these patterns.

I described in an earlier post about how I batch process my blogging tasks and the schedule that I follow to execute the batched tasks. Another thing I am seriously looking into is automating my social media posting, especially Pinterest. (I almost bought Tailwind but I don’t own a credit card and Tailwind doesn’t support PayPal yet, so there’s that.)

Another example of standardization is creating templates. When I started blogging, I used to run around like a headless chicken trying to come up with graphics for my blog promotion. I kept experimenting with fonts and colors and come up with a certain style only to forget what I had come up with when it was time to do it again. Then a light bulb went off—why was I not doing what I had been following for the last 15 years as an online course creator? Maintaining a style guide has been an integral part of my professional life and it was time I built it into my blogging life too. Boom! I now work with premade graphics templates—all I need to do is change the image and text. What took me 15 minutes earlier now takes me no more than 2 minutes.

The idea behind the automation and/or standardization is to save time. As your business starts growing, you will find yourself spending more time on creating epic content and nurturing your subscribers. You cannot afford to waste any time doing other tasks that can be automated or delegated. Again, make prioritization your best friend.

6. Build relationships with people

Like most bloggers, I am an introvert too. Quitting the corporate rat race was my greatest gift to myself. It used to drain me to function in a structure that essentially favors extroverts. I would feign illness on days of office parties because I just could not stand the whole networking scene and gabbing nonstop for three hours.

So, when I read to be successful, bloggers not only have to network but also market and (gasp) sell, I panicked. Then I thought I don’t HAVE TO meet or broadcast myself live. I could still hide behind my screen and do it all.

I was wrong. Well, technically, I wasn’t…I really can hide behind my screen and do it all but the truth is like everything else in life, blogging success also depends on human interactions. Luckily, I don’t have move around in big groups (nightmare for my introverted personality). I can have meaningful relationships with others on a one-to-one basis.

Remember your vision is to ‘help’ others…make their lives easier by providing them with inspiration, advice, and tools. In return, find people who will help you give your best and boost your confidence. And it helps of course when your network supports you by supporting your products or services.

So, after dilly-dallying for 4 months (out of 6!), I finally took the plunge and sent out an email to my only subscriber. I sat waiting for the unsubscribe notification to pop up. But she didn’t unsubscribe. My list has since grown (albeit slowly) and I have been sending emails on a weekly basis to my group. I have seen a few unsubscribe notifications too (some on the same day as subscribing :-P) but the number of subscriptions far outweighs them and motivates me.

I am now working towards creating a safe environment for my subscribers and me to interact. To understand their needs and equip them with the information they need is my one of my top blogging priorities.

How long have you been blogging for? What have you learned in this duration that you think can help others, like me? Share in comments below.

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Six lessons I have learned about professional blogging during my first six months of being a blogger.

 

How to create 10 blog posts from just one idea | FREE 300+ blog post ideas

You started blogging with great intentions. You started with a bang and in the process exhausted all of your awesome ideas. Now, a few weeks in, you are struggling to come up with topic ideas. That spells trouble for anyone with true intentions of blogging professionally.

Or, perhaps you are great with ideation. You are religiously publishing a new post every week. Now, you want to ramp up your publishing schedule and publish more blog posts every week.

Even if you don’t see yourself as either of the above examples, it’s always good to have a list of ideas to work with.

So, what can you do to come up with more and more ideas? Sure, you have to use the tried-and-tested techniques (Google Keyword Planner, Pinterest search bar, BuzzSumo, etc.) But once you come up with an idea, what if you could create multiple blog posts using that single idea?

Yes, it is possible! Let’s call it the multiplier effect.

The process is simple: you pick one idea and spin it to create the following types of blog posts:

  • List / Top 5
  • (Expert) roundup
  • Ultimate guide / Long-form / Research-based
  • How to / Tutorial / Instructional
  • Case study / Problem and solution / Success or failure story
  • Infographic
  • Podcast
  • Video
  • Opposing view / different perspective / guest post
  • Opinion-based / review

That’s 10 blog post ideas right there!

Let’s work with an example.

You want to publish more blog posts. But you are running out of ideas. But what if you could create multiple posts using a single idea? Click the image to learn how. You also get 300+ blog post ideas across 9 profitable niches if you sign up.

Suppose, per research, you have come up with the idea ‘KonMari techniques of decluttering.

Back to your chosen topic: ‘KonMari techniques of decluttering.

At the outset, determine which types of blog posts you can create with this idea. A little thought reveals that your chosen topic lends itself to all of the aforementioned types of blog posts. Cha-ching!

(Okay, let’s be real for a second here. Not all ideas may translate to 10 blog posts, but if you put your mind to it, you can easily come up with at least five. That’s great too, isn’t it?)

Now, let’s see how we can use the KonMari idea to create 10 blog posts. The objective of each of these posts will be to help your readers determine whether they should adopt the KonMari techniques in their daily life.

  • List / Top 5: This could be a list of advantages and/or disadvantages of the KonMari techniques.
  • (Expert) roundup: This could be a roundup post citing short reviews of the KonMari techniques from organizational experts.
  • How to / Tutorial / Instructional: This could be an actual tutorial of the KonMari techniques of decluttering. Create a step-by-step guide aka user manual for your readers.
  • Ultimate guide / Long-form / Research-based: This could be an extensive post evaluating the KonMari techniques. Think of it as an in-depth review.
  • Opinion-based / Review: This could be a subjective post about the KonMari technique. It will highlight what YOU think about the techniques. It is NOT an in-depth objective review.
  • Opposing view / different perspective / guest post: This could be an opposing view of the KonMari techniques, i.e. why your readers should NOT adopt it. Essentially, by writing this post, you want to go against the grain. Or, you could write a pro post while a guest blogger can write an anti post or vice versa. Write it as a narrative.
  • Case study / Problem and solution / Success or failure story: This could illustrate an example of a KonMari follower and their story from point A to point B. You could begin with a problem statement of the user and then show how adopting the KonMari techniques did or did not help alleviate that problem.
  • Infographic: This could be a visual chart of the KonMari techniques. Summarize your findings of the methods (such as statistics, techniques, advantages, disadvantages, etc.) and present them as an infographic. Great boost for your Pinterest account as well!
  • Podcast: This could be an audio version of your findings of the KonMari technique. Make it long or short.
  • Video: This could be an audio version of your findings of the KonMari technique. Make it long or short, but videos usually work best when they are short (5 minutes or less) and focus on the key points.

There. One great idea. 10 awesome blog posts.

It’s time you get started with your own multiplier effect.


How do you come up with ideas for your blog? Share in the comments section below.

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You want to publish more blog posts. But you are running out of ideas. But what if you could create multiple posts using a single idea? Click the image to learn how. You also get 300+ blog post ideas across 9 profitable niches if you sign up.