Why Nofollow Links Are Serious Business (My Personal Dealings with Google)

Quite a few months after I started blogging, I started hearing about “nofollow links”. Either from fellow bloggers or from companies reaching out for collaborations. All I knew was that certain links needed a certain code so I wouldn’t get in “trouble”. I thought I had a comprehensive understanding of what I was doing, but last summer I found out the hard way that if things aren’t done 100% correctly, Google can get you. Here’s how and why it matters.

Why Nofollow Links are Serious Business

What are Nofollow links?

From my understanding, every time there is a blog post or web page, search engine bots will go through it and attribute a certain amount of value (like a score). When they come across links within that page, the links give their value, or “juice” to the source of the outgoing link. It’s like the link is saying “I trust this source”. If you have a big, reputable source linking to your page, then you just received a lot of trust/juice and then Google will put you higher in the search rankings.

If you are being compensated in any way (product, money, experience, etc.) then the link you use pointing your audience to the product, company, etc. should not be saying “I trust them” because you are biased. If the search engine bots catch this then Google will label your site as spam and your place in the search engines (and page views) is drastically reduced. It’s a good thing that this system is in place because it identifies spam. When it comes to honest bloggers however, it can be a bit of a challenge making sure every link is correct. In order to make sure the search bots know which links to ignore (saying that you aren’t giving your value to the outgoing link) you need to place a “nofollow” code in front of each link that you are affiliated with or don’t know.

What does Nofollow look like?

Here is an example of the nofollow value when assigned to a link.

<a href="http://www.example.com/" rel="nofollow">Link text</a>

You can enter this in your hyperlinks manually, which is what I originally was doing, or you can use a plugin and make your life a lot easier. A friend turned me onto the Title and NoFollow for Links Plugin, where you simply check a box and it adds the nofollow value for you.

What will happen if you don’t correctly assign nofollow?

I previously mentioned that Google (or another search engine) can label your site as spam and destroy your page rankings. I had heard of this, but I hadn’t actually heard of it happening to anyone that I knew. Then I had this delivered to my inbox.

Why Nofollow Links are Serious Business

I mean, what?! I thought I had been correctly assigning the nofollow value to every link I should have. I had turned down numerous collaboration offers because they required follow links. By no means am I a mega blogger either. Yet somehow, somewhere, someone reviewed my humble site and found violations. So what did I do? I submitted a reconsideration request, but not before I went through each and every link from every.single.post since the creation of this site. It was daunting and super annoying, to put it mildly. I think it might have led to my “blogging break” that I still haven’t fully recovered from.

There were quite a few links from when I first started blogging (before I knew about this world of SEO and nofollow), a few where I just didn’t click the correct box on my plugin, or affiliate images I used where I was unsure how to assign the nofollow value (but assumed it was already done).

After submitting my reconsideration request (which included a detailed description of the changes I made and how I would proceed going forward), I had to sit back and wait for Google to review my site.

Hallelujah, a few weeks later I received another email stating I had been reinstated.

Why Nofollow Links Are Serious Business

 

The purpose of this post was not to vent, but to prove that you really can get in “trouble”, even if you thought you were doing everything above-board. Don’t let companies or people pressure you into using follow links because you are protecting your site’s ranking as well as theirs. Take it from me :).

What can you do to prevent being penalized?

Go through old blog posts. 

I know this is very time-consuming, and time is not something that bloggers usually have a lot of. But believe me, it will take a lot less time than having to go through every post and submitting a reconsideration request.

-Don’t assume.

If you don’t understand how to assign nofollow code to an image or link, either figure it out or don’t use it. Don’t assume anything.

-Double check your links before hitting publish.

I usually finish posts late at night, and kind of in a hurry. Sometimes I thought I clicked the box, but the click didn’t register. Just double check all your external links to make sure the nofollow value is assigned.

Do you have any advice or nofollow stories of your own? Holler at me in the comments below!

 

The Non-Holiday Winter Bucket List

One of my favorite ways to beat the post-holiday blues is to make a winter bucket list. Not just any winter bucket list, this is a non-holiday winter bucket list. One that has nothing to do with Christmas but that celebrates all that the season has to offer. Because let’s face it, winter is not always the season that overflows with an abundance of options. They’re there, you just need to think about it a little bit more. This non-holiday winter bucket list is the perfect way to be intentional with the season and make it your best winter yet :).

The Non-Holiday Winter Bucket List

Here is my list to get you started. Click on the link below to get your own blank non-holiday bucket list started NOW!
The Non-Holiday Winter Bucket List

 

Non-Holiday Bucket List printable here!

Need more inspo? How about Snowshoeing, Rainy Day Workouts, or Mystery Novels?

Let me know what you are most excited about this winter in the comments below. Happy winter bucket listing!

 

 

Word of 2017

After much thought, I’ve come up with my phrase for 2017, and with it, my intentions. As I mentioned in my last post, 2016’s word of the year was basically a complete bust. I want this year to be different. More realistic and measurable ways to actually live out what I set forth to do at the beginning of the year.

2017 – The Year of Cherish & Chill

2017- The Year of Cherish & Chill

 

If 2017 goes as planned, there are big changes ahead. I really don’t know all the ways that will play out yet and I don’t want to make goals that are unrealistic to my reality as a result. As I was thinking about this and trying to find a word(s) to encapsulate what I wanted my mindset to be, words like flexible and malleable came to mind. Yet those words felt boring, and besides, they weren’t active enough sounding for me. The challenge I ran into was finding that action word for an almost passive state of mind. I thought deeper about how I want to react to the impending changes and finally landed on these 2 words that I believe are perfect for 2017.

Cherish

As much as possible, this year I want to cherish all the little and big moments that arise. I truly think this will lead to a positive mindset, appreciation for life, and reduced stress. Not to mention (unlike the year of balance) it doesn’t overwhelm me; it’s a doable goal!

The How

I’m still working this out but here are a few measurable ways that I can move in that direction.

  • Every night before bed, think (or write) three things that I am grateful for that day
  • Aim to take at least 3 walks a week. Walks are not only physically beneficial, but they are a great time to meditate and ponder.
  • Take more pictures. I want to capture all those moments and memories that make me smile.

Chill

When I say “chill”, I mean that I want to be flexible and roll with the punches on what life hands me. That if plans change or don’t go as I intended, I’ll be able to adapt without great distress. Some people are naturally wired this way but I’m not one of them. Not yet, anyway:)

The How

  • Set soft goals.  I will still plan, but not have such rigid goals that they don’t allow any deviation.
  • Schedule in “me time”. This could just be a 20-minute bath, but the goal is to be able to step away from whatever situation has me feeling overwhelmed.
  • Prayer. Lots of it. Daily :).

 

What does this mean for this blog?

I will aim to post an average of 2 x a week, and the goal of my posts is still to uplift, inspire, or help you walk away with something new. I also hope to do some interviews and introduce you to some bloggers that I admire. There will continue to be lifestyle posts, because, after all, this stems from my life. And on those weeks that I don’t get a full two blog posts up, just roll with me knowing that it is the year of “chill”.

 

What are your thoughts on this upcoming year? Have you thought of a word or resolution that you want to achieve? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy 2017!

 

 

 

When Addiction Strikes Close To Home (Seasons in Malibu)

This is a sponsored post but all opinions are mine alone. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Chasing My Halo.

 When looking through snapshots of my wedding, there are a few that really stand out. There’s the typical walking back down the aisle with my newly-announced husband shot, my dad giving me away shot, sunset shots, and the picture with my brother. It’s one that was taken towards the end of the night by a family member, not the photographer. My skin is shiny and his is sunburnt red, but we are happy. Happy because my brother was there with us in Hawaii. My brother, who only three years prior was facing at least 15 years in prison due to his alcohol addiction and subsequent DUIs. Instead, he turned his life around and genuinely changed. That change enabled him to celebrate with our family, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

When Addiction Strikes Close To Home

There haven’t been many people in my life that I can say truly changed. I had grown very skeptical that it was even possible, and even my Hawaiian wedding to a wonderful man was as a result of a previously crumbled marriage to someone who after years of promises and lies, never could change his addictive behavior.

Experiencing addiction with prominent people in my life caused me to wonder why my brother was able to recover and live his life differently when so many others had failed. We had a nice lunch the other day where I picked his brain on that exact topic. Here’s what I extracted from our time together.

  • Life before rehab and treatment was “self-centered” and “directionless”. He thought that rehab was for weak-minded people and “serious” alcoholics who were helpless. Since he did not see himself in that light, he did not consider rehab as a good option.
  • It wasn’t until forced with rehab or prison one night in a cell that he knew he really needed to change. He got out of his own way, put his ego aside, and was ready to start over again, as scary as that was at the time. It was his surrendering moment.
  • He looked at rehab as a tool to live a healthy life. It helped him clarify and understand what was going on with him and increased his knowledge on addiction. He also believes that rehab gives the addict a voice. It helped once he got out by giving his recovery credibility and a chance at a normal life.
  • My brother strongly believes that those struggling with addiction will only find help and truly change if they are open to new possibilities and have a willingness to try.  To get out of their own way so true healing can begin.

What I loved from our time together was the glimpse at what was going through his head when he entered rehab. His openness at the prospect of starting over and the description of himself prior to his recovery was inspiring. Inspiring because it takes a lot to realize that looking out for #1 might be causing more harm than good. That self is the one thing between you and living a better life.

He brought up a scene in the current movie, Dr. Strange. The scene shows Dr. Strange entering a spiritual center to get physical healing. He relied on his experiences and intelligence, and they became his biggest stumbling block. That got him kicked out, unable to get the healing that he desired. It was the perfect picture of how the addict needs to shed their ego to become whole.

When Addiction Strikes Close to Home (Seasons In Malibu)

I’m so thankful for the existence of rehab centers that help those, who are willing, find that healing and a path to change. Seasons in Malibu is the ideal addiction treatment center. They are a luxury world-class, accredited, dual-diagnosis treatment center in gorgeous Malibu, California. What sets them apart (besides their stunning site and facilities) is the holistic and personalized approach they take towards addiction recovery. They boast up to 65 one-on-one sessions a month. To put that in perspective, my brother only got one personalized session a week. He said, “Oh, wow” when he learned of how Seasons in Malibu operated. Imagine how much more you would learn about yourself if you had that kind of attention from such educated professionals!

When Addiction Strikes Close To Home (Seasons in Malibu)

My wish for those dealing with addiction (and for the people who love them) is that they find the tools that they need to help them truly change. Seasons in Malibu is one of those tools that I hope many take advantage of.  Hopefully, they can also find themselves smiling into a camera for all those big life moments.

Have you or anyone you loved dealt with addiction? What did they do (or not do) to recover? Let me know in the comments below!

When Addiction Strikes Close To Home (Seasons In Malibu)

When Addiction Strikes Close To Home (Seasons in Malibu)

Stress Less on Seattle Roads – 5 Ways to Become a More Calm and Safe Driver

City of Seattle, I love you. Like with a deep down, fiercely loyal kind of love. The skyline (swoon), the water, the technology, the music, and a long list of other attributes are what makes this city so great. The downside of such a great city is that more and more people keep moving here, making the roads more and more crowded. That’s my number one complaint with this city. The traffic is awful. For four years I worked in North Seattle and lived in West Seattle. There were nights when it took me almost two hours to get home. Insane! I just couldn’t take it anymore and it was one of the reasons I ended up leaving that place of employment.

Lately, I’ve been very intentional about trying to lower my stress level. As a result, I’ve changed how I approach my travel outlook. I will get stuck in traffic at times, that’s just a given of living here. However, I can improve the quality of that time I’m on the road and make it safer for me and for others. As you’ll see in the infographic below, October is the month where most traffic accidents occur, so what better time to draw attention and awareness to our commute. The Car Accident Lawyers at Khan Law Firm agree and today we are partnering together to make the Seattle experience a better one.

Stress Less on Seattle Roads (5 Ways to Become a More Calm and Safe Driver)

Stress Less on Seattle Roads – 5 Ways to Become a More Calm and Safe Driver

This post is sponsored by Car Accident Lawyers at Khan Law Firm. All opinions are honest and mine alone. Thank you for supporting the companies that support ChasingMyHalo.

Give yourself a travel cushion.

This one’s kind of obvious, right?! It’s so true, though! When I’m running late I tend to make bad driving decisions. Add 10-15 minutes more than you think it will take you. That way, when traffic is bad, (which it usually is) it’s not panic-inducing. Listen to an audio book or something that will make you look forward to spending extra time in the car.

Use a current-time navigational app.

I love the Waze app so much. It’s like my personal road wizard. I can check traffic before I leave and it gives me a pretty accurate time frame of when I’ll arrive at my destination, as well as all the secret squirrel back roads to get me there. It also alerts you to road obstructions, accidents, and traffic jams up ahead. I set it up in a holder on my dashboard so it’s hands-free and I can listen to the directions and warnings without even having to look. It’s fantastic and if you live in a big city I’d say it’s a must-have.

Stress Less on Seattle Roads (5 Ways to Become a More Safe and Calm Driver)

Have an easily accessible snack handy.

This one comes with a big disclaimer. Don’t let the snack distract you from the road. When I first get in my car at the end of the day I’m famished and a little irritable. If I have a light snack like a Lara Bar or trail mix at the ready, I turn into a better person. Thereby, a much more patient driver. I’m also not as rushed to get home. The infographic below shows how 5:00 on Friday evenings in the most common time for accidents. That doesn’t surprise me with everyone in a rush to start their weekends. At least if you take being hangry out of the equation, you rush will be a little less!

Plan for texting time.

This one goes a little with giving yourself a cushion but I like to check my texts and social media before I leave anywhere. So as much as I want to run out the door after work, I check my phone first and respond to anything before I put the keys in the ignition. Then, I set my phone out of reach and know that I’ll be able to check it when I get home or at my next stop. As a blogger, it’s extremely tempting to constantly be connected. Sometimes, I need to remind myself how precious life so I can put the phone down!

Make sure your car is maintained.

There are few scenarios more stressful than running out of gas or breaking down on the freeway outside downtown Seattle. Or windshield wipers that can’t keep up with our rain. Our months, and months, of rain:(. Staying on top of those normal, responsible car-owner things like getting the oil changed, keeping the gas tank full, and replacing parts as needed will make your time on the road safer and decrease those stressful situations. Which reminds me, I need to schedule a few appointments for my auto needs…

 

What do you do to stay sane on the roads? Let me know in the comments and check out the infographic below. Stay safe Seattle!

Stress Less on Seattle Roads (5 Ways to Become a Calm and Safe Driver)

Infographic courtesy of Khan Law