Follow vs. NoFollow links

Nadejda Milanova

· 31st March 2022·WordPress

Follow vs. NoFollow links

Those who are new to SEO might be wondering what all the fuss is about between follow and nofollow links. Confused? Don't worry, we are going to clear it up for you.

What is a Follow Link?

To understand this issue fully, we need to provide some background on how links generally work. When a site page gets a hyperlink pointing towards it, that page is given an SEO boost. Think of a link as a point, and the more links you have - the more points you have.

Google tracks how many inbound links your page has and where they come from. Google figures, hey, if a lot of people are linking to your page, it must be good! So we’ll give it preference in our search engine so that we can easily deliver the very best pages to our users.

Google created a metric called PageRank to calculate the link count on pages. SEOs refer to these links as "link juice." The more authoritative 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!

A follow-link is a link that also counts towards points, and helps push SEO link juice into a linked-to site and thereby boosting its page rank. This helps the page rank go up in SERPs.

What is a No Follow Link?

You know how links can be like a point in the page’s favor, boosting PageRank, and helping a page’s placement in the SERPs? No follow links don’t seem to get any of that love. They just have a really sad, lonely life.

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

Link Text

The nofollow attribute is basically a notice sign for search engines that says “don’t count this.” No follow links have their reasons too — they exist mainly because they help avoid spam.

More links mean more link juice, which results in higher ranking website pages. Well, this is an imperfect world, and as you might have heard, some self-proclaimed SEO “experts” use black-hat, unethical methods to trick search engines and inflate their rankings.

As Google's algorithm has changed over time, people have been forced to change their strategies. Veteran SEOs know that it's important to provide better user experience while maintaining a high ranking. But the competition online continues to grow, and people can become desperate in their pursuit of success.

A few good years ago, PageRank was discovered by some SEO black hats. Suddenly, it was all about the links. The more inbound links you had, the better your PageRank. SEOs were determined to get as many links as possible, no matter how they did it. Blog comments were a joke, filled with self-promotional nonsense and linking gibberish.

spam comments

Wikipedia became a mess, too. In the early days, people tried to add their own sites as references on hundreds of Wikipedia pages in the all the name of search engine ranking and link juice. But in 2005, Google, the self-styled web police, stepped in. Google's Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen at Blogger introduced the nofollow attribute.

NoFollow

I have to say, the no follow link tag has done a lot of good for the online world. We’ve seen spam on blogs, forums and Wikipedia disappear thanks to this simple attribute. WordPress and Wikipedia both assign the no-follow attribute to links from user-submitted posts, which is incredibly helpful in dampening the spam to these sites. Spamming still happens over comment sections on blogs, but no follow has definitely helped.

When should you use the Nofollow attribute? Nofollow links primarily belong in:

  • Paid links (it wouldn’t be fair to buy out link juice, now would it?)
  • Comments
  • Forums, which are generally not trusted content (if this is, in fact, your source of traffic)

Individual discretion for blogs that do not want to discourage commenters who contribute positively to the blogging community or online discussion.

Should You Bother With No Follow Links?

Links are still valuable, even if they are no follow. No follow links can help send referral traffic and build your brand. Links still have power, even if they don’t have SEO value or link juice. Social signals are increasingly valuable, despite being no follow. The key is to build trust through links and gain relevance in the industry by helping establish yourself as an authority.

Wikipedia is very picky about what sources you can use, so you’ll need to provide some really niche and unique content. However, if you can get a link from Wikipedia, it could produce some really cool results, like other do-follow links.

no follow links

How to Check if a Link is Follow or No Follow?

Visit the source code for the webpage. In Chrome, go to View>Developer>View Source. Alternatively, in Firefox, do Right-Click>View Page Source. Type find "nofollow" in the search bar and all instances will be highlighted.

links

Google Chrome has a great extension called “linkchecker” that automatically highlights nofollow or dofollow links on the pages you visit.

How to Get Follow Links

Links are important, no matter their no follow/do follow status. But that doesn’t mean you should resort to spammy, manipulative link building methods just to even out your link profile. The best way to get do follow links is to create original content and hope that it gets linked to naturally. Other approaches include guest blogging and targeting a site relevant to your own for the sake of getting a referral traffic boost and an SEO boost in one go.

Follow or No Follow

Remember, it’s all about balance. When you get too much of either type, it may not be the best. Remember, do follow links still rank, but both deserve a place in your online marketing strategy.

Nadejda Milanova
Nadejda Milanova

An experienced Content creator in the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and WordPress. A true proffesional with a Master's degree focused on journalism.

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