If you’re new to SEO, determining the difference between follow (or dofollow) and nofollow links is likely one of the first questions you may come up with. Links between pages play a critical role in determining how high your page shows up on searches, and are weighted heavily in the algorithms that make this decision. Not all links are created equal, however. How do they differ, what are their uses, and most importantly, what impact do they have on your search engine optimization strategy?
What are Follow and No Follow Links?
Simply put, the NoFollow tag is an HTML attribute that is used to tell search engines not to use the link to influence their search results when indexing, determining PageRank and producing results on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The purpose of the NoFollow tag is to cut spam results out of the SERP, and make results more relevant to users. Websites that add the NoFollow tag to their links do not give “link juice” to the target website. One of the reasons for creating the NoFollow rel attribute was that when marketers uncovered the system, Wikipedia became flooded with articles or references to sites with little relevance to boost their SEO.
Examples of Follow and No Follow Links
The following is an example of a NoFollow link that can be used when creating URLs:
<a href=”https://www.husaria-marketing.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Bespoke Digital Marketing</a>
NoFollow attributes are typically applied to: links you’ve paid for, forum and comment links, plus anything that Google might consider untrusted content. The opposite of a NoFollow link is a Follow or DoFollow link. When it comes to SEO, these are the kinds of backlinks that you want to raise your PageRank and improve your SEO. A DoFollow link is simply a URL without the “NoFollow” rel attribute, like so:
<a href=”https://www.husaria-marketing.com/”>Bespoke Digital Marketing</a>
A DoFollow link, therefore, is simply the default link without any tags. When a search engine bot comes across a DoFollow link, it does attribute some PageRank value to the target link and gives you “link juice” to help you improve your search rankings. The best way to build backlinks like this and boost your SEO and results on the SERP is honestly: by generating interesting and engaging content that your readers and media outlets will want to share. You can also try guest blogging on relevant sites, producing content for others while at the same time generating traffic and backlinks to your site.
How Should You Approach Follow Links
The goal is to find a balance between NoFollow and DoFollow links when it comes to your web development and digital marketing strategy. While Google does not attribute “link juice” to improve the PageRank of sites that are linked to with the NoFollow attribute, they still will count it as an outgoing link when it comes to the distribution of PageRank from your site and can still be a great source of referral traffic. The lower on your page the link with the NoFollow attribute is found, the less impact it will have.
If you are going to be linking to sites that may be considered spam or otherwise untrusted, it’s important to use the NoFollow link. Search engine robots are not able to sign-up to post comments on your forum, so there’s no need for them to crawl your register or sign-up pages.
It’s also important to note that while NoFollow links do not generate any SEO for you, they can still be very important in generating traffic! While search engine bots will not give you credit for the link, real users certainly can! If you’re paying for banner or text ads, or are a business on a paid forum, you’re not going to get an SEO boost for your investment, but you will boost your visibility with your target market.