What are Backlinks?
Backlinks are the most important part of the SEO. Links from external websites pointing to your website are called inbound links or backlinks.
Search Engine Ranking is depends on many factors. Backlinks are one of the most important factors for that. Backlinks can be categorizing by relevancy, authority, follow etc.
Dofollow and nofollow are very common terms and we usually talk on this topic but don’t know the actual difference between dofollow and nofollow.
I would like to help those who have just start SEO or freelance seo expert who are still not clear about dofollow and nofollow.
Introduction of dofollow and nofollow links
By default, all links have a dofollow attribute. As its name suggest, search engines follow those links and index pages. It passes the link juice (value) and helps in achieving good authority and ranking on search engine result page.
Suppose you have taken a link from the http://www.externalwebsite.com/dofollowlink.
When a search engine crawls this page, it checks external backlinks on it. Any external backlink with dofollow attribute will get link juice from it and Google will index that page as well.
Nofollow link is exactly opposite to dofollow link. It doesn’t pass link juice and thus does not help in improving ranking on SERP.
The search engine doesn’t follow the nofollow links but a human can follow those links so they can help to get visitors on our website so don’t ignore it if you get from reputed websites.
For Example. If you posted some powerful article “how to develop ecommerce website” and you get nofollow backlink from that post. If that website has good readers then, there are some chances to get visitors from that website who are interested in developing an ecommerce website.
A Nofollow link is defined by using attribute rel=”nofollow”.
What Differs Both of Them?
The main difference between a nofollow link and a dofollow link is that nofollow link doesn’t get any link juice or value, so it will not help you to get better ranking and improve authority.
On another side, the dofollow link gets link juice from that page. So it will help you to improve ranking and authority.
So, do you think nofollow is worthless?
You are wrong.
Backlinks from Facebook, twitter, Wikipedia, LinkedIn etc. are nofollow but more valuable. Getting only dofollow link is not the preferable practice, but try to get quality backlink. Google may also penalize websites having too many dofollow links as Google can easily understand spamming tactics. So it’s better to maintain a ratio between dofollow and nofollow backlinks to appear higher in SERP results.
Nofollow links are also counted as non-trusted sources, whereas dofollow links are counted as trusted sources.
How to Define Nofollow?
You can define nofollow attribute in two ways.
1. Define the whole Page as nofollow
Above code gives signals to search engine, not to follow any link from the whole page. If you have used above tag, all links that page will be treated as a nofollow by search engines.
2. Define Particular link as nofollow
Here rel=”nofollow” attribute is used with a particular hyperlink, which tells Google not to follow that link. Google will only not follow URLs having rel=”nofollow” attribute.
Where To Use Dofollow and Nofollow attribute
The people, who know the difference between dofollow and nofollow, still have confusion where to use dofollow attribute and nofollow attribute. You can use HTML code in order to tell the search engine whether you want them to follow or not.
Where to Use dofollow?
- If the link has good page authority and related with your page content, you can define as a dofollow. For example, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Wikipedia.
- If you share someone’s article on your website, you can define original source link as a dofollow link.
- Your social media profile links on your website
- Your sister company website
- Internal pages
Where to Use nofollow?
- Affiliate links on your website
- Sponsored Links
- Poor authority links
- In blog comment section, as spammers are using blog commenting techniques to gain backlinks
How Different Search Engines Treat Nofollow
The nofollow link at the top of the page is good compared to nofollow link at the bottom of the page. Please note down, Google still counts nofollow link as an outbound link to distribute link juice. So if you are getting nofollow link from the top of the page, it carries some impact.
Check here how search engines treat nofollow links:
It does not follow the nofollow link neither link juice passed
Yahoo follows the nofollow link to find out new content, but link juice does not pass and exclude from ranking calculation.
This search engine does not count “nofollow “attribute. Nofollow and dofollow links are same for this search engine.
Bing may not follow Nofollow link, but it does exclude it from ranking calculations.
Baidu recognizes nofollow attributes, thus link juice doesn’t pass.
How to identify nofollow links
There are multiple ways to identify dofollow and nofollow link. You can detect nofollow links by check out source code, inspect elements and by using browser add-ons or extensions.
- In browsers, right-click on a link and select “inspect element” from the menu. Full HTML code will be displayed. Check for rel=”nofollow” attribute on that link tag. If you find “nofollow” then that link is nofollow, else dofollow.
Again, if nothing is mentioned then that link will consider as a dofollow.
- You can also check-out source code by using short key ctrl + U. Alternatively right-click on the webpage and select “View page source”. Search for nofollow attribute.
- There are many extensions available for both Google chrome and Mozilla Firefox to identify nofollow links
Google Chrome Extensions
- Nofollow Simple
- Nofollow SEO Link Highlighter
- NoIndex, Nofollow Meta Tag Checker
Mozilla Firefox Add-ons
- Highlight Nofollow links
- Hover Nofollow
Why Nofollow Attribute Need to Introduce
Google introduced nofollow attribute in 2005 to fight against link spamming which also respected by other search engines like Yahoo and Bing.
Previously people were able to get dofollow links from everywhere as the nofollow tag was not on the earth. At that time quantity link building was in demand. So, Search engines were struggled to provide better results. Page rank was calculated on the basis of backlinks. Spammers had targeted blog commenting and even Wikipedia for backlinks.
Nofollow tag indicates that link is not authorized, so Google doesn’t follow that link. Now you can’t get a dofollow link from everywhere. It is true that nofollow link has less value (or no value), however, spammers are following those techniques by doing blog commenting and all that
But, we must agree that nofollow link only provides visit until it placed on the top on authority websites.
Search engines introduce nofollow tags to prevent spam but an idea was not a success, as spammers are still trying to get backlinks from blog commenting. But we should agree that a lot of changes have been placed in SERP after nofollow tag.
How Link Juice Distributed?
Link juice is not passed in nofollow link but Google consider nofollow link as a backlink. Nofollow links also affect on link juice distribution.
For Example If any page has 4 backlinks: Link A, Link B, Link C and Link D. Out of that Link D is a nofollow link.
Now here, 3 links are dofollow link so all dofollow links should gain 33% link Juice.
No, this is not true. As Google consider all backlinks whether it’s a nofollow or dofollow. So here, link juice will divide among all four links, Link A, B and C will get 25% link juice, but Link D will not get any link juice.
What Kind of Backlinks Are Good for Website
Doing link building at all time and get few nofollow links only is simply a waste of time. It will spoil your SEO strategy because Google doesn’t follow that website and not helps you to increase ranking on SERP.
You have to find out authority dofollow backlinks and maintain dofollow-nofollow ratio by getting some nofollow links only from high authority website to looks natural. But don’t waste time behind low authority websites for nofollow link which are unable to give you visits.
It doesn’t mean that nofollow links are bad. Nofollow have their place in a natural looking backlink profile and can help to maintain anchor text ratios.
If you find nofollow links from high authority sources then it definitely helps you to gain popularity.
Let’s take an example.
Suppose there is one quality article on the topic “How to write an effective article”, which doesn’t have any backlink and on the same topic there is another quality article having 4 nofollow backlinks from excellent sources [Here, I am not talking about low-quality nofollow links].
In this case, Google can easily understand that second article is more Authoritative. So it can perform well on Google.
Let’s take above example in another way.
Suppose the first article has 4 dofollow backlinks and the second article has 4 nofollow links. In such cases, the first article will definitely gain more benefit and will perform better on the SERP.
Hope this will clear whole fundamentals of dofollow and nofollow links. However, being a human, if I have made any mistake or missed something important you can share in the comments.