Follow Links Vs. No Follow Links: Should You Care?

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Those new to SEO might be wondering what all the hullabaloo is about follow links vs. no follow links. Confused? Not to worry, we’re going to clear it all up.

Follow vs. Nofollow

What is a Follow Link?

To really understand what is going on with follow vs. no follow links, we need to provide a bit of background about how most links work in the realm of SEO. When a site page gets an inbound link, which is a hyperlink pointing to that page, the page gets a small SEO boost. Think of a link as a point, and the more links you have, the more points. More Points = Winning, like Charlie Sheen.

Google takes note of these points, watching how many inbound links a page has and from what sites. Google figures, hey, if a lot of people are linking to a certain page, it must be a really good page! Let’s give preference in our search engines to that page over others of a similar topic so we can easily deliver the very best pages to our search engine users.

Google created a metric called PageRank to calculate the link points. Many SEO folks refer to link points as “link juice.” The link juice flows through sites and into new sites through hyperlinks. The more reputable the site, the bigger boost of link juice the linked-to site gets. Getting a link from the New York Times or BBC is pure gold!

Now we can define a follow link – Follow links are links that count as points, pushing SEO link juice and boosting the page rank of the linked-to sites, helping them go higher in the SERPs as a result.

What is a No Follow Link?

A no follow link is a link that does not count as a point in the page’s favor, does not boost PageRank, and doesn’t help a page’s placement in the SERPs. No follow links get no love. Theirs is a sad and lonely life.

A no follow link is created with the nofollow link HTML tag, which looks like this:

<a href=”http://www.website.com/rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>

The nofollow tag is basically a notice sign for search engines saying “don’t count this.”

Isn’t that just mean and terrible? Why would anyone do such a thing? There’s a reason for the nofollow attribute, and boy is it a good one!

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A World Without No Follow = Spamalot

As we discussed earlier, the natural do follow form of links is used by Google to measure PageRank. More links means more link juice, which results in higher ranking website pages. In its unadulterated state, PageRank exists to see what pages are the most popular (and therefore, likely the best quality pages), and deliver those top pages to searchers. 

Well, ours is an imperfect world, and, as you might have heard, some self-proclaimed SEO “experts” scheme to trick search engines and inflate their rankings using black-hat, unethical methods, and in the times before the nofollow attribute, link-building was an easy way to artificially boost page rankings.

nofollow seo

Once PageRank was discovered by SEO black-hats, all hell broke lose! Suddenly it was all about the links for SEO. More inbound links meant better PageRank, and SEOs were determined to get as many links possible, even if it meant spamming everyone on the web to get them. Blog comments were a joke, riddled with self-promotional nonsense and linking gibberish.

nofollow links

follow links

Wikipedia got messy too, as people tried to add their own sites as references on hundreds of Wikipedia pages all in the name of the coveted link juice.

The blogging community was worried – these spammers were destroying any chance at fostering real community and authentic discussion on blogs. In 2005, Google, the self-styled web police, stepped in. Google’s Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen of Blogger stepped in to introduce the nofollow attribute.     

NoFollow: The Tag the Internet Needs, But Not the One it Deserves

The necessity of the nofollow tag highlights the crooked and spammy mentality commonly associated with SEO, but there’s no denying we couldn’t get by without it.

nofollow

The no follow link tag has done a lot of good for the online world – most SEO spammers won’t bother posting irrelevant links to blogs or forum posts if they know they won’t get to publish a follow link. WordPress automatically assigns the no follow link attribute to all user-submitted links, and Wikipedia does the same for its reference section.

While blog comment spam still happens, no follow definitely dampened it.

As a webmaster, you might find yourself wondering when to use the no follow attribute and when to allow for do follow links. No follow links primarily belong in:

  • Paid links (it wouldn’t be fair to buy link juice, now would it?)
  • Comments
  • Forums
  • Anything involving what Google calls “untrusted content”

Some webmaster may disable the nofollow attribute as a reward for blog commenters who are contributing to the blogging community or online discussion, but that’s up to individual discretion.

So I Just Shouldn’t Bother With No Follow Links, Right?

Absolutely not! Just because they don’t provide SEO link value doesn’t mean no follow links are worthless. No follow links still provide valuable referral traffic.

A well-placed blog comment or a relevant forum post, no follow or not, can send a huge amount of traffic to your site, which then can funnel down to leads and conversions!

Besides, search engines today are looking at a lot of factors outside of link juice and PageRank. Social signals like those from Twitter and Facebook are increasingly valuable, despite being no follow. The key is to build your brand – don’t think of what links are good for SEO, but instead think what links are good for your business, your brand, and what links can help establish you as an industry authority. Remember that links, no follow or not, build trust.

It’s also still worth pursing Wikipedia links when appropriate. Wikipedia is very picky about their references, so you’ll have to provide very niche, unique content, but if you can get a link it can bring about some pretty cool results – including other do follow links.

Wikipedia nofollow links

Gianluca Fiorelli of IloveSEO notes that once, when doing competitive research about sites related to traveling to Patagonia, he found that the site that was ranking in first place on Google had a Wikipedia link. He says:

“I dug into that link and discovered that it was to a post about the Welsh immigration in Patagonia present in that site's blog. Is that link sending traffic to the site? Probably not at all, but it was noticed by someone in the BBC website, who finally linked to that same post citing Wikipedia. Boom, now that travel site not only has one link from Wikipedia, but it has also an important backlink from another trusted seed: the BBC.”

Wikipedia links, despite being nofollow, can still drive traffic and might earn you some platinum do follow links down the line. 

How to See if a Link is Follow or No Follow

How do you decipher between follow links vs. no follow links?

In Chrome, go to the navigation bar and click View>Developer>View Source. Alternatively you can just right-click on a page and hit Inspect Element. For Firefox, do Right-Click>View Page Source.

From there, do an Edit>Find and search for “nofollow” in the search box. All instances of the nofollow tag will be highlighted.

How to See Which Links Are Nofollow

For the SEO pros who want to keep careful and easy track of no follow links, there are many extensions available to download for Chrome and Firefox that automatically highlight no follow or do follow links on the pages you visit.

A few for Firefox are:

For Chrome:

How to Get Follow Links

We’ve talked about why links are important, regardless of their no follow/do follow status, but you probably still want a few follow links to even out that link profile.

The best ways to get do follow links is the honest way: creating awesome, original content that gets shared and linked to naturally. Other approaches include guest blogging, especially on a site relevant to your own so that you can build referral traffic in addition to getting an SEO boost.

Follow or No Follow: A Balanced Link Profile is Best

Remember, ultimately you want a healthy balance of do follow and no follow backlinks for the perfect link profile. Do follow links may do more for SEO, but both deserve a place in your online marketing strategy.

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Comments

Jey Ganesh
Jul 14, 2014

Nice Post. Very clear about dofollow and no follow links....:)

amit
Jul 16, 2014

Thanks for clearing my confusion about dofollow and nofollow links really nice post

SEO Company in Jaipur
Jul 16, 2014

This post provides useful information about No-Follow and Do-Follow link attributes. Some times ago really I was confused, but today I have got more knowledge about this blog. Both attributes are useful for good SEO. Matt Cutts also said that no-follow is helpful for the organic results.

Sam Wilkins
Jul 19, 2014

Thanks for the very informative article. Are there any quick ways to find whether a link a 'nofollow' one? Also, every popular site has nofollow attached to its links, so besides the whitehat means of generating links any suggestions that will help to gain new follow links?

wowtechnos
Jul 21, 2014

Great Article ,very useful and my doubts were cleared.Thanks Megan Marrs.

Candied Nuts
Jul 23, 2014

Great post. I love this

Ossie Gee
Jul 28, 2014

Great information. I'm an affiliate marketer and I found it necessary to research this topic as I constantly see it in my Worpress plugins. I have a link cloaker plugin and it provided an option for a "nofollow" to my affiliate link and I thought about it. Keep up the good work!I am also a Writer and a SEO newbie :)

Ali kazmi
Aug 02, 2014

I know there is no value of no follow link. as well as I don't know why the popular website allow us to get no follow links. Is there any proper way where i simply found just do follow links.  

Peter Nisbet
Jun 19, 2014

You don't make it clear why 'dofollow' should be used, if  the default is to follow.  What is the difference between not using any attribute and using 'dofollow'.Google should follow any link unless you tell it not to. Or - is it because Google does NOT always follow links, and has to be told to do so if it is really important that it does?Pete

Elizabeth Cottrell
Aug 08, 2014

This finally clarified for me a lot of the confusion I've had about this "follow" and "no follow" terminology. I have a remaining question. As a blogger using Wordpress, do I have to do anything special when I embed a link into my blog posts to denote "follow" or "no follow" or does Wordpress do that automatically?Thank you! 

Rod Collins
Aug 14, 2014

I just spent a month doing manual articles in several wiki sites, incredibly enough several of them with my content have been indexed but I am adding original content nothing spun. A variety of links do follow or no follow does give any website auhority.Thanks for this great articleRod 

Aahna
Aug 17, 2014

Nice article! good article for webmasters and seo

Anonymous
Aug 18, 2014

Hi,  I have a small doubt is making no follow complete site is good or bad for website ?   

Akshay Kalaria
Aug 22, 2014

nice article

Angie Rees
Aug 28, 2014

Nice post but nofollow links can help for improve website keyword ranking

vanaja
Aug 29, 2014

all i want to know is does nofollow has any power 

GEORGE UZZAL DEWRI
Sep 21, 2014

Good Idea . Thanks a lot.

prediksi hasil
Sep 23, 2014

This is a wonderful article i must say, So much info given in it, These type of articles keeps the users interest in the website, keep on sharing more... i like

Anthony Sakovich
Sep 23, 2014

I think with the current rise in Negative SEO, there is a real good reason for blogs to add the "no follow" code. The more sites that use this tool, the fewer places evil blackhat types will have to go to destroy other people's hard-earned SERP rankings. I'm sure Google is working hard on telling the difference between spam links (especially those maliciously posted by a competitor) from real links, and I am thinking the "no follow" code is probably integral to that quest.Do you agree?  

Today Trending News
Sep 24, 2014

There would be a long discussion about this topic... Hence, it depends upon website owners choice.

William Hammer
Sep 25, 2014

There are many tools available on the internet to check no follow/follow links. You may easily come to know about no follow/follow links more clearly by these tools.

Rahul Yadav
Oct 03, 2014

This is a wonderful article i must say, So much info given in it, These type of articles keeps the users interest in the website, keep on sharing more!!!

Monique
Oct 04, 2014

This article explains the topic so well thank you. I have shared it a few times now fo both bloggers and business owners to refer to :)

ufo
Oct 06, 2014

I don't think nofollow links are not related to SEO... They are not related to PageRank, but in some way they are considered by Google.

elshad
Oct 07, 2014

How many dofollow links for get PR rank 3 ? Thanks.

موسوعة التنمية البشرية
Oct 10, 2014

Thank you for this article good and wonderfulWe wish you success always

Angie Rees
Oct 10, 2014

Thanks for great post. this is very help full to unsertand how to work do follow and nofollow link what why this important for us

Wahab
Oct 13, 2014

Very nice information about dofollow nofollow

kelly wilson
Oct 15, 2014

I should agree with other guys! Awesome article! When you create a good link profile,it is of great importance to take note of healthy balance of both links: Nofollow and Dofollow.Even nofollow links from authority websites can get many traffic and benefits for your SEO. I guess there are lots of buzz around the true value of nofollow links. Anyway, it is vital to watch out each link you get for your website.     

Anonymous
Oct 16, 2014

Nice article, thank you very much , it's very helpful

Martina
Oct 16, 2014

Brilliant article, very in depth also found all the comments and replies super usefull too!!! thanks Megan

hasnain
Oct 26, 2014

hey, this is very informative post. Its has the information which really help the newbies, like me.I have a new website, so this post help me to get some usefull backlinks.

Paul
Oct 30, 2014

very nice blog regarding do follow links

shoaib
Nov 05, 2014

Thank you a lot for providing individuals with a very spectacular possibility to read critical reviews from this site.

العاب درايفر
Nov 07, 2014

thank you for this awesome topic but still there is some point that i did understand.i hope someone can answer me well if comment blog and forul signateur and all kind of easy backlink they r no follow or google will count them like a spam one day. so how a small busnins can make backlinks and still rank in google? 

Vikrant Karande
Nov 12, 2014

How many follow/no follow links to build to a page?

Eml Search
Nov 13, 2014

Well, Nice article, and Nice information, but the problem is It is very difficult to get do follow links, I have tryting to do link building for a number of days but still there is no major success, People are not interested to give you a link without charging moneyRegards,Emlsearch 

سئو
Nov 19, 2014

Thanks for sharing ..very helpful

sashikanth
Nov 28, 2014

Hi Megan, Thanks for the article it was great. It was clear and for a person who is new to seo will now be able to work more precisely about link building. I do have a doubt, can we convert those nofollow links to dofollow links. Thanks & Regards,Sashikanth 

instanceofjava
Dec 15, 2014

I am a new blogger and i think it is the very best work for begnnier

lakshmi`
Dec 15, 2014

Nofollow link decrease search ranking? i m confu..please tell me.

Div
Dec 17, 2014

From a basic term what exactly a nofollow tag represents..? It informs the search engines just not to follow a particular hyperlink which results in ignoring the specified link thus zero value in the algorithm series. However, in case of Internal Links its beneficial to allow google to crawl the entire site by disabling the nofollow so as to let the googlebot to find the particular page easily which also helps in the page rank flow.As per my professional experience, I believe its a good practice to use nofollow tag for websites and blogs so as to discard the links from an external sources which results in preventing the spammers to get any optimisation advantages from your website. We should be aware that "Links" possess value and we should respect the value of the link for better ranking.In the field of marketing/business the word "Competition" plays a major role. Now its up to you whether to help your competitor with similar keywords to climb on top or to remain below you. So its upon you whether to put "nofollow tag" or not :)Regards,Div Seohttp://divergent.co.jp

Div
Dec 19, 2014

Hello Matt !!From a basic term what exactly a nofollow tag represents..? It informs the search engines just not to follow a particular hyperlink which results in ignoring the specified link thus zero value in the algorithm series. However, in case of Internal Links its beneficial to allow google to crawl the entire site by disabling the nofollow so as to let the googlebot to find the particular page easily which also helps in the page rank flow.As per my professional experience, I believe its a good practice to use nofollow tag for websites and blogs so as to discard the links from an external sources which results in preventing the spammers to get any optimisation advantages from your website. We should be aware that "Links" possess value and we should respect the value of the link for better ranking.In the field of marketing/business the word "Competition" plays a major role. Now its up to you whether to help your competitor with similar keywords to climb on top or to remain below you. So its upon you whether to put "nofollow tag" or not :)Regards,Divhttp://divergent.co.jp

Birmingham
Aug 02, 2014

The whole link building thing is a scam, the average person setting up a site who cant seo that site is stuck on page ten , whereas his/her counterpart who's terrible at what they do bordering on a rogue trader gets good seo and bingo! page one the fox is in the hen house.. It's not about being good at what you do it's about being good at seo and fulfilling an algorithm.

giay da nam
Jun 20, 2014

should I nofollow the links on my website pointing to things like my facebook page

Filipino Store
Jun 24, 2014

I have read so many posts on follow no follow links but i think this one is far better and nicely written . THanks for sharing

gordon
Aug 25, 2013

Ok great post and I guess all SEO's and ecommerce stores have and will continue to find ways to abuse. Afterall, what is then left, PPC???? Money straight into the hands of a search engine? My question regarding nofollow is : should I nofollow the links on my website pointing to things like my facebook page, twitter etc.  thank you

Victor Pan
Aug 27, 2013

Hi Gordon,If it's your website pointing to your social media profile, then you should follow those links. This helps Google establish the legitimate relationship between your website and its extended social media profiles.If you ever mention a competitor with a similar name, I would nofollow that link ;)

gordon
Aug 25, 2013

Sorry,another question regarding nofollow on my internal links:lets say i have 3 places on my homepage, all pointing to one link. now i do not want to make such an importance of the link, so i would like to nofollow two of them and leave on intact.Will search enging nofollow two of them, as I set out, and keep the one remaining in tact or will it completely ignore any remainder of link pointing to same page?Let me know your thoughts, thank you.  

Victor Pan
Aug 27, 2013

Hi Gordon,From the layout of your flowershop website, with how you've set keyword-rich descriptions as the followed link and the CTA as the nofollowed link, I think you're doing a fine job. In this scenario, I would expect Google to disregard the duplicates without incurring any penalty to your website. Hope that helps!

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