Affiliate Links

Google Says No Penalty For Using Affiliate Links Without Markup

Google Says No Penalty For Using Affiliate Links Without Markup
Written by publishing team

John Mueller, Google’s search attorney, says websites won’t receive a manual penalty for using affiliate links without the recommended coding.

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

A question is sent 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.

Google’s John Mueller on manual penalties for affiliate links

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


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

Muller says:

“So, in our view, affiliate links fall into this category of something financial related to links, so we highly recommend using this setting.

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

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


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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 followed.

Mueller says the same in his following statement:

“But it’s a best practice and I highly recommend doing it, but it’s not something I’d say we’re going to go through and take action 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 a link to an advertiser or a link to a product from which you earn a commission, the link must be advertised with a theme.

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

Why is it important to use these features?

Encoding affiliate links prevents your site from passing link ownership to the other site.

This is an important SEO best practice, as you should not pass link ownership to sites that incentivize you to link to them.

If you are linking to a page because you believe it provides value to your visitors, and you receive nothing 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 give a genuine recommendation.


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that it never Acceptable to sell links, regardless of the attributes associated with them.

For more information about when and what you should not use link attributes, see this explainer:

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

Featured image: screenshot from, December 2021.


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