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I have a price comparison website which lists different products. On the product pages it lists 10-20 webshops per product where the item can be purchased.

At the moment I am linking these sites with the most basic way like this:

<a href="https://www.randomxxxx.com/link" class="redBtn" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank">Visit Shop</a>

My problem is the site performs really bad from the SEO point of view and I am afraid that having 10.000+ links like this is a wrong solution. As I see big price comparison sites don't do this solution at all. They do some kind of redirects that I can't really understand at the moment why they do those ways. For example Idealo links looks like this: https://www.idealo.co.uk/go/3423374721851589226.html?categoryId=19116&offerKey=267680b2ff21c3ca13e011ddb5bd88b5&offerListId=6477867-4CAE3EC9393F21DF0DA368FF947B18AF&pos=4&price=279.99&productid=6461743&sid=324877&type=offer and this link redirects to the destination url.

My question is that what would be the best solution for linking relevant product pages? Is there any solution which is better than just simply linking the url with the nofollow attribute? (My goal is to just simply forward the user in the most legal way)

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They do some kind of redirects that I can't really understand at the moment why they do those ways.

Having worked for sites with product links like this, the redirects have nothing to do with SEO. Because they make money when they are clicked, they have to be accurately tracked. They often have to be tracked by the publisher, the advertiser, and sometimes by a third party. The click chain is often something like:

  • https://price-comparison-site.example/product-123 - Product page, which has a link to buy the product
  • https://price-comparison-site.example/track-click?product=123&vendor=456&user=789 which redirects to
  • https://ad-network.exmple/send-to?url=https://ecommerce-site.example/nifty-product which redirects to
  • https://ecommerce-site.example/nifty-product

Your price comparison site may want to track clicks itself rather than relying on the tracking of the ad network or the advertiser. The redirect through your own site lets you see what got clicked, when, and how many times. To prevent click inflation you would want robots.txt to disallow bots from it:

Disallow: /track-click

Then since bots can't follow the link, you don't have to use nofollow on the link. Since search engines can't crawl the redirector, they can't know where the link actually points. Since they can't see where the link points, they can't pass link juice because of advertising links.

So is a non-crawlable redirect for sponsored links any better for SEO than a more direct nofollow link? No, they are equivalent. As far as PageRank goes, Google says they discard PageRank when you use nofollow rather than pass through the link like they would do without the nofollow. I've tested using robots.txt with a disallowed redirect vs. a direct nofollow link. Both discard PageRank.

SEO problems with your price comparison site are very unlikely to have anything to do with the technical aspects of how your links are constructed. It is just very hard to create a price comparison site that ranks well. Unless you have content other than just prices, Google is likely to see your entire site as thin content. You can get a price comparison site to rank well if you have editorial reviews and user reviews, but it takes quite a bit of extra time and money to create that kind of original content.

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  • This was the answer I was waiting for exactly! Thanks! I have valuable content near the product links, but I assume it is still not enough for Google and seeing it as thin content as you said. I will do another site without the price comparison module and test how that works.
    – rihe
    Oct 16 at 13:48
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You have the following options (HTML attributes):

  • rel="sponsored": Mark links that are advertisements or paid placements (commonly called paid links) with the sponsored value.
  • rel="ugc": Mark user-generated content (UGC) links, such as comments and forum posts, with the ugc value.
  • rel="nofollow": Use the nofollow value when other values don't apply, and you'd rather Google not associate your site with, or crawl the linked page from, your site.

You would use the attribute rel="noopener noreferrer" to fix vulnerabilities on external links. So, you should use this attribute if links are external. Add the value sponsored if this links are ads or even affiliate products. Add the value nofollow to stop transfer authority to the linked external site.

You can mix them, so you can have a rel="sponsored nofollow noopener noreferrer".

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