Let’s Start from Beginning
In order for you to understand what’s going on with follow vs. nofollow links, let’s start from the beginning. First, you should understand the importance of links in the world of SEO. You’ve probably heard about link building and how it can benefit your business. Whenever a webpage gets an inbound link, a link on another site that points to this webpage, the page gets a better search engine ranking. However, not all links matter, but we’ll get to that later.
Google observes and takes the number of these links as a signal that this page has quality content. If not, it wouldn’t be shared as much, right? For this reason, Google will give this page a good ranking, so that it has an advantage over other pages in the search result page. After all, Google wants to deliver to you the popular pages, as they probably are high-quality pages.
Google has PageRank that will calculate inbound links, but the number of these links is not the only factor that matters. Authority on the website with your inbound link is also very important.
What is a Follow Link?
You can see that not all links carry the same weight when it comes to SEO. The links that do qualify, that push SEO juice and help the page get better SEO ranking are called dofollow links. Hyperlinks are dofollow links by default, you don’t have to do anything with the link to make it a dofollow link.
These links give you link juice. So, if a website owner links back to you, the search engine will take note of this. In order to get the most of it, you’d want to put a targeted keyword in the anchor text.
When It Got Interesting
As you can see, the goal was to get as many links as possible, by all means. Black hat link building tactics have been used and were very efficient at this point before no follow links. Automated comments with links could be seen on many blogs. Even Wikipedia got spammed, as people were adding their own sites as references, only to get links.
However, in 2005, Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen introduced nofollow links. These links reduced the effect of blog comment spamming and similar tactics.
What are Nofollow Links?
The nofollow links do not help the page get a better ranking. And while dofollow links are created by default, you need to add HTML attribute to make a nofollow link. This way, you’ll give a signal to the search engine to not give importance to this link. WordPress automatically assigns this attribute to any link that’s submitted by users, which helps reduce blog comment spamming. Wikipedia does the same for reference sites.
This is how nofollow links became important for the online world. Once spammers realized that spamming will not have the effect it once did, they reduced their activities. But, what is the purpose of nofollow links and why would anyone use them?
Dofollow vs Nofollow Links – The Main Difference
With an HTML attribute, we give search engines the information that we don’t want this link to include the ranking of the page. This way, we can intentionally reduce the effect that the spamming would have. However, that’s not their only purpose. Even if search engines don’t give weight to nofollow links, humans can still see them. On the other hand, dofollow links can be seen by both humans and search engines.
The Purpose of Nofollow Links
You’ve noticed that both types of these links have their purpose. But you might still be wondering when to use dollow links, and when to use a nofollow attribute. Nofollow links should be used in these cases:
- Comments and forums
- When the link leads to untrusted content
- Paid links, since Google is against link buying
Nofollow links have their worth and purpose.
Don’t forget that humans can still see nofollow links. When people click on the link, they will visit your website, and that was the point from the beginning. Keep in mind that nofollow links can still provide referral traffic. What’s great about referral traffic is that new audiences can be introduced to your website, your content and that can all lead to leads and conversions.
Build your brand
If you keep thinking about SEO, you can lose all the other aspects of online marketing. You want to build your brand, you want to build links that are good for your business. You need to think about establishing your brand as an authority in your niche. And you can do that with nofollow links as well as with quality content.
If you get a nofollow link on a website of high authority, that can lead to great exposure and can benefit your brand. Also, links on social media might not affect SEO, but they can still be a valuable source of traffic and introduce you brand to a lot of potential clients. Especially if they’re placed the right ways. Remember, it’s not only about SEO, it’s important to make the proper balance.
Dofollow VS Nofollow Links – which to use
At the end of the day, it’s not a matter of dofollow vs nofollow links. A website should have a natural mix of both dofollow and nofollow links that point to it. While dofollow links are more important from the aspect of SEO, natural backlink profile should include nofollow links as well. Actually, the update of Google’s algorithm, Penguin recognizes the sites with only dofollow links as suspicious. As you can see, a good online marketing strategy will include both of these link types.