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Understanding the Difference: No follow vs. Follow Links

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Understanding the Difference: No follow vs. Follow Links

Blog / Understanding the Difference: No follow vs. Follow Links

Understanding the Difference: No follow vs. Follow Links

A nofollow link is a type of link that includes the rel=”nofollow” attribute. Its purpose is to instruct search engines not to transfer any link equity or authority to the linked page. Introduced by Google in 2005, the nofollow attribute was primarily aimed at combating comment spam and preventing link manipulation.

To clarify, a nofollow link is identified by having the “nofollow” value in its rel attribute. Although the technically correct terms are “nofollow attribute” and “nofollow tag,” they are commonly used interchangeably.

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For instance, let’s consider a standard link to Apple’s homepage:

Original Link:

<a href=””>Apple</a>

In this case, the link would pass link equity to Apple’s homepage.

However, by adding the nofollow tag, the link would appear as follows:

Nofollow Link Example:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Apple</a>

The inclusion of the nofollow tag ensures that search engines do not consider this link for ranking purposes, meaning it does not influence Apple’s search engine rankings.

It’s important to note that while there is no specific “follow” or “dofollow” tag, the terms “follow link” or “dofollow link” are commonly used to distinguish links that do pass link equity.

Additionally, Google introduced two other rel attribute values in 2019:

  • rel=”sponsored”: Used for sponsored links.
  • rel=”ugc”: Used for links created by users, such as those found in comments or forum posts.

The nofollow value can serve as a substitute for both rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc”.

Learn More: No Follow Links Vs Follow Links

To determine if a specific link has a nofollow tag, you can examine the page source code. Here’s how:

  • Hover over the link, right-click, and select “Inspect” (or a similar option based on your browser).
  • In the source code window that appears, locate the link in question.
  • Check the rel attribute within the link tag. If you find the word “nofollow” within the rel attribute, it means the link is marked as nofollow.

Example: rel=”nofollow noopener”

Additionally, you can apply filters to view specific backlinks based on their nofollow attributes. For example, if you want to see only active sponsored backlinks, select the “Active” and “Sponsored” parameters.

The tool will then present a list of backlinks that meet the specified criteria. This feature can be useful when examining the digital PR strategies of your competitors.

Learn More: The Power of Digital Marketing in PR

When to Use Nofollow

  • Linking to a page you don’t want to endorse: If you need to link to a webpage but don’t want to be associated with or endorse its content (e.g., a gambling website), use the rel=”nofollow” attribute.
  • Sponsored/paid links: For links that are sponsored or paid for, whether they are inbound or outbound, use the rel=”sponsored” attribute.
  • Affiliate links: When dealing with affiliate links pointing to or from your website, use the rel=”sponsored” attribute.
  • User-generated content: For links created by users in comments or forum discussions on your website, use the rel=”ugc” attribute.

Note: It is possible for a single link to have multiple attributes, such as rel=”nofollow sponsored”.

When Not to Use Nofollow

In the past, the nofollow attribute was misused to influence how link equity passed from a page, but this practice no longer works due to changes in Google’s calculation of nofollow links for PageRank. Here are two common examples of how not to use nofollow:

  • Nofollow for all external links: Using the nofollow attribute for all links pointing out from your pages does not benefit your website and may even have negative consequences.
  • Nofollow for internal links: Nofollow should not be used for internal links. If you don’t want a specific page to be crawled or indexed, there are better methods such as using robots meta tags.

If you’re unsure about correct usage of nofollow on your site, it’s recommended to review your internal and external links. Remove nofollow attributes unless there is a compelling reason to keep them as such.

Remember, using the nofollow attribute correctly can help shape the flow of link equity on your website.

Nofollow links, including those with the rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc” attributes, do not pass link equity or contribute to improving PageRank. Google does not consider them for ranking purposes.

While it is commonly believed that nofollow links have no SEO value, there are still potential benefits associated with them:

  • Traffic: Certain reputable websites, like Forbes, use nofollow attributes for external links. However, receiving a backlink from such sites can still drive traffic to your website.
  • Exposure: Being mentioned on high-quality sites enhances brand awareness, which can lead to natural “follow” backlinks from other sources.
  • Backlink profile diversity: Actively building links with an excessive number of “follow” links may appear unnatural. Nofollow links contribute to a more diverse and balanced link profile.

It is worth noting that Google’s treatment of nofollow links changed in 2020. While they are not ignored completely, Google may consider them as hints for crawling, indexing, and understanding linking patterns.

Although nofollow links do not have a significant impact on SEO, it is evident that Google pays some attention to them.

The terms “follow link” and “dofollow link” are commonly used to describe links that pass link equity, in contrast to links with the nofollow, sponsored, or UGC attributes.

However, it’s important to clarify that there is no actual “follow” or “dofollow” link attribute. The presence of rel=”dofollow” in a link, although occasionally seen, is unnecessary and has no impact on the link itself.

In essence, the nofollow tag is the relevant attribute that affects whether link equity is passed or not. The terms “follow” or “dofollow” are used informally to differentiate between standard links and those with the nofollow attribute.

Please note that these terms can be misleading, as there is no dedicated attribute specifically denoting a link as “follow” or “dofollow.”

What to Do Next

Now that you have a clear understanding of the distinction between nofollow and “follow” links, you may be interested in delving deeper into how links affect SEO and how to acquire high-quality backlinks for your website.

Here are some valuable resources to explore:

  • Understanding Backlinks: Learn more about the significance of backlinks and their role in search engine optimisation.
  • Link Building Strategies for SEO: Discover effective techniques for building strong and authoritative backlinks to improve your website’s visibility.
  • Managing Backlinks: Explore strategies for organising and managing your backlink profile to ensure optimal SEO performance.
  • Internal Linking: Gain insights into the importance of internal linking and how to optimise your website’s internal linking structure.

If you’re eager to start building backlinks right away, you can try our Backlink Gap tool. With a free account, you can conduct up to 10 searches per day, enabling you to identify your competitors’ top backlinks and replicate their success.

Take advantage of these resources to enhance your understanding of link building and maximise the benefits of backlinks for your website’s SEO. Contact Traffic Radius team to learn more!

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