Google’s John Mueller emphasized once again that it’s unlikely that Google will penalize your site or manually give it an action if you don’t add the nofollow or sponsored rel attribute to your affiliate links. He said this at 31:58 in last Friday’s video.
The question was “Will I be penalized if I don’t set a sponsored rel or no follow up on my affiliate links?” “Probably not,” replied John.
John added that it is a best practice to do a sponsored link nofollow or rel, as we covered in February 2020, Google prefers to use sponsored rel on affiliate links. So from our point of view, affiliate links fall into this category of something financial related to links, so we highly recommend using this setting. But mostly if it doesn’t show up while selling links, it’s not that we’ll manually penalize the website for having affiliate links and not encode it”. “It’s a best practice and I highly recommend doing it, but it’s not something I’d say we’d go crazy with and take action manually on these sites,” he added.
This is the implication where John said this:
Why doesn’t Google penalize a site if it doesn’t put a nofollow on those links? Well, Google actually treats most affiliate links as nofollowed even if they don’t have a nofollow on them. This includes Amazon affiliate links and others. In fact, nearly ten years ago, Matt Cutts said the same thing:
Here’s how Glen Gabe summed it up on Twitter:
more than Tweet embed: It’s definitely a best practice and John recommends setting up nofollow and/or rel sponsorship for affiliate links, but it’s not that Google will take manual action on those affiliate sites if the links aren’t encoded: https://t.co/y3zhvVIJbX pic.twitter.com/HSyyZWHBIc
– Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) December 14, 2021
Forum discussion in Twitter.