Digital Marketing

Google Says No Penalty For Using Affiliate Links Without Markup

Google search attorney John Mueller says that websites will not receive a manual penalty for using affiliate links without the recommended markup.

This came during a Google Search Central SEO office hours hangout recorded on December 10th.

A question is presented asking if a website will be penalized for not coding affiliate links with rel = “care” or rel = “nofollow” The qualities.

In short, Mueller says, “Probably not.”

For his full answer, keep reading the section below.

John Mueller of Google on manual penalties for affiliate links

To be sure, it is highly recommended to use the rel=”sponsored” or rel=”nofollow” attributes on affiliate links.

However, there is no reason to lose sleep if there are affiliate links on your site without the recommended markup.

Mueller says:

So, from our point of view, affiliate links fall into this category of something financial related to links, so we highly recommend using this setup.

But, for the most part, if it doesn’t happen while you’re selling links, it won’t be the case that we’ll manually penalize the website for having affiliate links and not coding them.”

If this sounds confusing – the main takeaway here is that you should Use the attributes rel = “sponsored” or rel = “nofollow” when posting affiliate links.

Google recommends it, so you can’t go wrong with following this tip.

What Mueller is saying here is that Google will not go so far as to issue a manual penalty if best practices are not being followed.

Mueller says the same thing in his following statement:

“But it’s best practice and I highly recommend that you do it, but it’s not something I’m saying we’re going to go out and do manually on these sites.”

This is generally in line with the guidelines Google has given in the past regarding affiliate links.

Where there is financial compensation associated with a link, whether it is affiliated with an advertiser or associated with a product for which you earn a commission, the link must be advertised with an attribute.

Google recommends using the sponsored attribute in these cases, but the nofollow attribute is also acceptable.

Why is it important to use these attributes?

Affiliate link coding prevents your site from passing link ownership to the other site.

This is an important SEO best practice, as you should never pass link ownership to sites that motivate you to link to.

If you are linking to a page because you believe it provides value to your visitors, and you do not receive anything in return, it is not necessary to declare it in markup.

You can also link to products and services without using a theme as long as you make a genuine recommendation.

it’s a never Acceptable to sell links, regardless of the attributes associated with them.

For more information about when you should and shouldn’t use link attributes, see this explanation:

  • Should you use Nofollow, Sponsored or UGC links?

To hear Mueller’s full response, watch the video below:

Featured image: Screenshot from, December 2021.

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