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Nofollow Vs Dofollow Links: How To Use Them For SEO And Why Should You Care?
It should be evident to you that not all links are the same.
There are multiple variables to consider to determine how authoritative a backlink can be about SEO.
However, one of the major factors is the link type.
In this nofollow vs dofollow links post, you will learn the difference between the two and when you should use one over the other.
In the end, you should understand how you can use both types to increase your search rankings.
What are Dofollow Links?
Before we define what dofollow links are, here’s how it looks like in HTML:
The tag is where the link starts and the ends it. Within the tag is the URL where the link points to. And in between the opening and closing tags is the anchor text or the word/s that you can click to go the link.
Here’s how the dofollow link appears on a web page:
The Benefits of Dofollow Links
The value of dofollow links becomes evident if applied in the context of SEO.
Because the volume and quality of dofollow backlinks you will build is key to the success of your off-page SEO campaign.
In a nutshell, dofollow links pass PageRank from one site to another.
PageRank refers to the algorithm Google uses to determine the ranking of a web page on SERPs. On a scale of 0-10 (10 being the highest), a site with a high PR is expected to rank higher on organic search.
And while data about PageRank is no longer available publicly since 2013, people working at Google still use PR as part of its ranking algorithm.
Metrics have been around in aspects of digital marketing – you can find more than enough in email marketing, pay per click social media and analytics – to name a few!
Nowadays, people refer to this using different terms such as Domain Authority (Moz) or Domain Ranking (Ahrefs).
Both metrics don’t use the same algorithm to compute a site’s PageRank and are therefore not direct replacements to PR. Nonetheless, they serve the same purpose of identifying a site’s value according to different metrics.
From here, you should use these variables to determine the best and most authoritative sites to acquire links from.
The reason is that you can rank higher in Google search faster from these links.
Here’s a visual representation of how link building works with SEO:
By getting dofollow links from high-ranking sites, you can siphon authority, also known as link juice, from the site to your site, which you can pour on other pages of your site by linking to them as well.
What are Nofollow Links?
Unlike dofollow links, nofollow links don’t pass link juice.
Here’s how a nofollow link looks like in HTML:
It is virtually the same as dofollow links except for the rel=”nofollow” attribute in the <a> tag. This tells search engines that the link doesn’t pass juice to the site.
Note: Sites like Reader’s Digest, Good Firms, Best Company, and others are just some that set all their outbound links from dofollow to different attributes.
A lot of websites on haro used to have follow links, but changed to nofollow/spon/ugc over the last 12 months.
Here is an example of some sites that used to follow but changed to
Initially, the reason why nofollow links exist in the first place is to prevent comment spam.
Over time, webmasters can set all external links on the page and not just on the comment section to nofollow.
By not endorsing and passing credit to these links, they discourage link builders to acquire links from these sites. One could view this as a good thing because you don’t want people to bombard you as site owner with shoddy link requests.
On the other hand, having nofollow attributes to all your outbound links doesn’t have any benefit either.
Some people think using the nofollow attribute prevents link juice from seeping out from their sites and makes their site more authoritative as a result. But as shown in the SEJ article above, that’s not the case.
This reason is probably why Google released two new attributes to complement nofollow in 2019.
The new link attributes released by Google
The rel=”ugc” tag, which also stands for user-generated content, denotes that the link is added by a contributor to the site. This is ideally used on links added in the forum or comment section of the site.
Webmasters also use this tag to denote links inserted by contributors within the content.
Outwit Trade once used dofollow to all its outbound links. However, it now uses rel=”ugc” to sites of people who shared their views in the content about a tool or software.
The rel=”sponsored” are used for links that are paid advertisements or promotions. Therefore, when somebody pays you to put up their link on your site, you need to tag it with the sponsored attribute.
Google also suggests that you use this tag for affiliate links.
These new attributes are not compulsory so you don’t have to go out of your way to implement these tags onto your links. This is only a way for Google to determine the linking patterns that exist in their sites. At the same time, you won’t enjoy any SEO benefits by using the new attributes.
Benefits of Nofollow Links
It’s difficult to imagine any benefits of nofollow links, especially since the purpose of backlinks in an SEO sense is stripped off them.
However, helping your site rank higher on organic searches is not what SEO is all about.
For one, a backlink is one way for people to get to your site. If you secure a nofollow link from a site that generates lots of traffic, there’s a chance that people might click on your link.
And while it’s not passing link juice to your website, it’s funneling visitors instead, which is just as good considering that the purpose of SEO is to drive more traffic to your site.
At the same time, getting nofollow links helps make your backlink profile appear organic and natural.
As much value as dofollow backlinks brings to your site, having a link profile that consists purely of dofollow links won’t appear natural in the eyes of search engines.
As a result, Google might not put too much stock onto the backlinks you’ve built, no matter how authoritative the dofollow links you acquired over time, natural or otherwise.
Even 10% of the backlinks pointing to the best sites according to Ahrefs are nofollow.
Last but not least, we’re going to look at SEM Rush’ Authority Score. Authority Score is a little different as it’s not purely based on links. Authority Score is calculated based on a combination of backlinks, referring domains, monthly visits and keywords.
Like all of the other metrics, Authority Score is based on 0-100 with 100 being the best.
SEM Rush also has a tool to help you audit your backlink profile. The backlink audit tool will check a website’s backlink profile and score the links 0-100
Therefore, by diversifying the link types in your profile and expanding your strategy to include acquiring dofollow links, you can make it similar to the top-ranking sites.
How About No Links?
Very recently, Rand Fishkin published an article about Google’s potential gradual shift away from the link graph to determine the ranking of pages on SERPs.
The thinkpiece is not a conclusive argument against links as ranking factors. However, Rand strived to make a case for inferred links (or brand mentions without any attributed link attached to it) playing a much bigger role in SEO thanks to Google’s deep learning algorithm.
To be fair, this idea of a search engine independent of a link graph is not new, as seen in the Search Engine Watch post from 2017.
But Rand’s argument holds much more weight due to the Google algorithm’s heightened (and ever-improving) ability to determine the context and relevance of the text in content across its related entities, among countless other reasons.
Therefore, building inferred links should be just as good, if not better moving forward, compared to acquiring backlinks.
About this, you may have unlinked mentions where a page brings up your name but doesn’t link back to your site.
Whatever the reason why they didn’t link to you doesn’t matter. What’s more important is reaching out to the site owner and asking to link your brand on their page to your site, which is always a crapshoot.
But with the concept of inferred linking, you probably won’t have to get the link from the brand mention.
Better yet, there are instances that an unlinked mention is just as powerful as a backlink, thus supporting Rand’s ideas in his article.
While this opinion might not hold over time, there’s also a chance that Google’s deep machine learning algorithm won’t have to rely on the link graph as much.
However, what you should worry about is the now: links still matter whether you like it or not. And it’ll probably hold as much weight as it does now for years to come.
You could always launch a separate inferred link building campaign to compliment your link building strategy. At the very least, you’re covering all your bases in preparation for when this might happen.
When Should You Use Which Type of Link?
Dofollow links are much more beneficial than nofollow links from an SEO standpoint.
Since they help facilitate the flow of link juice or PageRank from one’s website to yours, you can make your site look much more authoritative in the eyes of Google.
This is especially true if you have lots of links coming from high-quality sites.
And even if Google may consider nofollow links are ranking factors, it’s not a guarantee that all nofollow links you get from websites will be taken into account.
At the same time, that’s not to say that nofollow links are useless.
As stated above, they help complement your SEO efforts and make your link profile appear more natural. You can also drive referral traffic from these links especially if the pages they’re found are generating lots of visitors.
Nonetheless, the point stands: you should strive for dofollow links as much as you can to rank on Google faster.
On another note, we touched upon the idea of inferred links and how it could affect link building as we know it.
Regarding this question, I’ll provide you with the most SEO answer I know:
Given the trajectory of deep machine learning and Google’s investment in it, there’s good reason to believe that the link graph won’t be as valuable moving forward.
However, in the volatile world of SEO, nothing’s for certain except what’s working now. And as of today, creating a diversified link profile is still the best way to rank your website on organic search.
Get All Types of Links from HARO!
We are fully aware of the kind of links that impact one’s SEO performance, which is why we exclusively provide site owners with arguably the best backlinks in the business.
While you can build links using HARO yourself, we take away the laborious task of providing answers to questions asked by reporters in your industry.
More importantly, our experience and expertise in getting clients in front of reporters dramatically increase your chances of getting featured in their article.
We at HARO Helpers offer links in batches of 10. All of these links are guaranteed to be dofollow. But if you want to sprinkle in nofollow links to diversify your link profile, we can do that as well.
Given the nature of link building, there’s also a slim chance that some reporters will mention your brand name but won’t link to your site. Should this happen, we won’t charge you since we request pay per link.
However, since inferred links could be the next big thing in SEO, you can still enjoy the benefits of unlinked brand mentions.
Therefore, it’s in your best interest to not only get the best backlinks for your site, but also the most prominent mentions!
If you want to learn how we can help you, fill out the form here and we’ll get back to you shortly.