If you’re new to this blogging world then I’m sure you must have felt overwhelmed by hearing words like nofollow or dofollow links.
Don’t worry, I’m right here to tell you everything you need to know about these links.
Link building is an important part of SEO or search engine optimization. How a website treats it’s outbound (or outgoing) links also plays a crucial role in how a search engine will treat those links.
Knowing where and where not to use nofollow links is really important if you’re serious about your website’s performance in search engines.
Let me get more into detail to help you understand them better…
What are Nofollow and Dofollow links?
> Nofollow links
These links are the the hyperlinks which contain rel=”nofollow” tag within them.
Nofollow tag instructs the search engine bots not to crawl the linked page or site and thus the link juice is not passed.
For example –
<a href=”https://domainname.com” rel=”nofollow” >link text</a>
What is link juice?
Link juice is the term used in the SEO world to refer to the value or equity passed from one page or site to another and it determines how powerful a link is. This value is passed through hyperlinks. Search engines use this value to determine if your page is valuable and worth promoting or not.
> Dofollow or follow links
On the other hand, dofollow links are just the regular links with rel=”nofollow” tag,
These instruct the search engine bots to crawl the linked page and thus the link juice is passed which boosts the page rank of the linked-to sites.
For example –
<a href=”https://domainname.com”>link text</a>
Just some BORING history of Nofollow links
If you think that nofollow links are something new, then let me tell you that they have been around for 14+ years now.
Nofollow tag was originally introduced by Google’s Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen of Blogger in 2005 to combat spam.
Here’s what Google said on their blog –
If you’re a blogger (or a blog reader), you’re painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites’ search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like “Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site.” This is called comment spam, we don’t like it either, and we’ve been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel=”nofollow”) on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn’t a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it’s just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.
However, the interpretation of nofollow varies between different search engines. You can see the table here to know the difference.
I’m damn sure that you’re fully aware of such spam comments as well. I get tons of such comments as well.
Quick tip – You can use a plugin called Antispam bee that protects your blog from such spam comments. (I use it too! So, don’t you dare to leave such comments here XX)
Importance of Nofollow
The nofollow link tag is really important for the online world – as I told you that most spammers don’t hesitate in posting irrelevant links to blogs or forum posts.
Nowadays, WordPress automatically assigns the nofollow link tag to all user-submitted links, and Wikipedia does the same for its reference section.
While blog comment spam still happens with almost every blogger, nofollow has still reduced it alot.
Does it help with SEO?
In simple terms, No! It doesn’t.
Why? Because when the nofollow tag was introduced, the total Pagerank was divided and passed equally through all the followed links.
Now, People started misusing this as well and started taking advantage of this to manipulate rankings by sculpting the flow of PageRank around their sites.
They nofollowed all the links to their unimportant pages to allow for the maximum transference of PageRank/link juice to their important or “money-making” pages and forced them to rank higher in SERPs (Search engine result pages).
To combat this, Google announced some changes in its Page ranking practices. Here’s how they explained it:
So what happens when you have a page with “ten PageRank points” and ten outgoing links, and five of those links are nofollowed? […] Originally, the five links without nofollow would have flowed two points of PageRank each […] More than a year ago, Google changed how the PageRank flows so that the five links without nofollow would flow one point of PageRank each.
So, basically, they don’t really help with SEO. But that doesn’t mean they are totally useless.
Also read: 17 SEO myths that you should stop believing
How are they important then?
Just because they don’t provide SEO link value doesn’t mean nofollow links are totally worthless. Nofollow links are very valuable.
- They help in diversifying your link profile – This means that if your website has only followed backlinks, It can make Google think that you’re using some black hat SEO techniques or buying backlinks.
This way getting some nofollwed backlinks to your site is a good way of telling Google that “hey! I’m legit. Don’t worry”.
- They bring Referral traffic – Nofollow links might not help with SEO but they can definitely bring a lot of referral traffic to your site.
- Protects from Google penalties – If you’re giving (or asking for) backlinks for sponsored posts means you’re technically buying/selling backlinks.
Google states that this is against their Webmaster guidelines.
So, to protect yourself from any penalties you should always use nofollow tag in sponsored post links.
Where should you use Nofollow links?
Now, You must be wondering which links should be nofollowed and whcih links should be allowed to be followed.
Nofollow links should be used in –
- Any type of ‘Unrelated’ or ‘untrusted’ content
- Not so important pages of your site
Make sure that any type of link as mentioned above should be nofollowed on your website.
Nofollow vs. Dofollow links
This infographic below explains everything you need to know about these links.
I hope everything must be clear about them now. But if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.
Should you add rel=”nofollow” manually or use a plugin?
Although, using a plugin might seem like an easy and time-saving way, I don’t recommend it.
The reason for that is – once the plugin gets deleted or stops functioning, it can cause you a lot of trouble and you’ll have to locate all the links and add the nofollow tag yourself.
For example, there was a plugin called ultimate no-follow which I was using and recently it got deleted from the WordPress plugins directory.
It didn’t cause me that much of trouble as I was using Pretty links to shorten my affiliate links which automatically nofollows all the links.
I’d still recommend you to add the nofollow tag manually. It won’t take more than a minute.
How to add nofollow tag
If you’re using HTML then you can simply add rel=”nofollow” just after the referring link. (As shown below)
<a href=”https://domainname.com” rel=”nofollow” >link text</a>
If you’re using WordPress, you can follow the steps below to add the nofollow tag to your links.
Step 1: Simply insert the link to the text and click on the three dots right beside the Yoast plugin icon.
Step 2: Select ‘code editor‘ from the list of items.
Step 3: Just add rel=”nofollow” after the referring link as shown below.
After that, you can simply exit the code editor and your link is nofollowed now.
Nofollow links play a vital role in SEO, not directly but they are still very important.
Dofollow links may do more for your site’s SEO, but both deserve to be equally treated in your link building strategy.
Don’t have a blog yet? Start your own blog with this step by step guide.
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