It seems coronavirus and Google are in competition to see who can do more damage to a person business! Just recently (5 May 2020) Google ran a massive broad core algorithm targeting quality, EAT (Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness) and backlinks. The algorithm has been running for two weeks. Many websites have now been demoted in Search.
And the SA government has now enforced a law that all .co.za domains must now link to there new coronavirus website.
Needless to say – a huge majority of SA businesses don’t use .co.za domains. They use .com domains which are usually better for geo-location targeting international countries.
South Africa Government Forces Backlinks From .co.za Websites!
Yes, you read correctly. Just recently the South African government forced all .co.za websites to link to there new coronavirus website which was only registered 11 March 2020. The new government site is a .co.za domain and not a .gov domain (www.sacoronavirus.co.za)
Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has approved new requirements for South African websites (.co.za domains) the requirements were ‘shallow’ and have been misinterpreted by most .co.za webmasters.
All websites operating within .zaDNA top level domain name must now have a landing page with a visible link to www.sacoronavirus.co.za which is the governments new coronavirus website.
What is a website landing page?
A landing page would mean a stand-alone page that contains useful information about COVID-19 with a single backlink to the government’s website.
Users will more than likely not see the landing page (unless it ranks high in search or is part of your websites main navigation)
Either way – search engines will crawl the COVID-19 landing page and credit the government website for the backlink due to the content been related to both websites. Take note – Abrahams spoke of a single landing page and not linking from all pages.
Most .co.za sites linked in the header, a pop-up or in the footer on ALL pages passing PageRank to the government’s new website.
The government gazette can be read at the following link [PDF Link]
I must say – Its the first time I’ve heard of a government enforcing such a ‘shallowly’ described law which was not only misinterpreted by webmasters but could easily be misinterpreted by Googles link algorithms.
Whether or not the government did it on purpose, I don’t know. But their lack of instructions could now have resulted in many South African businesses been filter from search results by Googles latest algorithm.
The Danger Of Backlinks That Push PageRank
PageRank is a strong crawling metric and is used by search engine crawlers to determine a websites authority in search results. The more backlinks you require from sites with authority, the better your website will rank (a link is a vote of confidence, a forced or a deliberately placed link is a sign of a webmasters attempt to manipulate the search results) On many occasions Google has warned SEO’s and website developers not to force backlinks on webmasters.
If a link does not carry the rel=”nofollow” attribute it will pass PageRank to the website it points too.
The new law which was gazetted 26 March 2020 came into effect 15 days after the SA government registered the new coronavirus website. Prior to the government enforcing the new law there website was nowhere to be found in Google search results.
Days after forcing backlinks from all SA websites to ‘sacoronavirus’ there website skyrocketed and hit the front page for all coronavirus related queries (PageRank pushing links is a quick form of manipulating Googles search results!)
Nonetheless – the government neglected to mentioned anything about the rel=”nofollow” attribute, and most webmasters are unfamiliar with the attribute.
Googles Guidelines For Backlinks
Googles link scheme guidelines are quite specific and easy to follow and can be read here >> Google Link Scheme Guidelines
Widely distributed links in the footer (the same link on all pages of a website that push PageRank) will be classed as unnatural and could have a negative impact on the entire website’s rankings.
How To Safely Link To sacoronavirus.co.za
1) Create a single landing page and add COVID-19 related content, then place a single backlink to the government website.
2) You can simply add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the government link, especially if the link appears in the footer of all pages and pushes PageRank.
<a href=”https://sacoronavirus.co.za/”>SA Government Coronavirus Website</a>
Below is an example of a link that DOES NOT push PageRank:
<a href=”https://sacoronavirus.co.za/” rel=”nofollow”>SA Government Coronavirus Website</a>
The above example is a safe method to link to the South African government’s coronavirus website
How To Add rel=”nofollow” To Links In WordPress
To add the rel=”nofollow” link attribute in WordPress, navigate to ‘Appearance’ ‘Widgets’ or ‘Customize’ then search for footer widget then add the second example code above.
Or navigate to the page itself and click edit. Then view the editor via the text version and add the rel=”nofollow” attribute (second example code above)
If you are unsure, simply delete the government link, or contact me for assistance.