A Simple Guide to Understanding Nofollow Links vs. Follow Links

Nofollow and Follow links. You can consider both of them as signposts directing traffic to your website. But which path leads to SEO success? What are the distinctions between the two links? How do professional SEO services in Sydney use them? All overwhelming questions. But don’t be, as we have a guide that answers all your questions briefly and effectively.

As someone dipping your toes into the digital ocean for the first time, this guide is your compass to navigating the ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimisation.

Starting with:

Nofollow links are web links embedded with the rel=”nofollow” attribute within their HTML code. It could appear as follows: <a href=”https://example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Click here</a> — a signal that the link should be treated as nofollow. So, it doesn’t contribute to the passing of link equity. When Google encounters this attribute, it instructs the search engine not to analyse the linked page further.

Firstly, understand that the terms “follow” and “dofollow” are not formally recognised; they serve as informal labels for ease of distinction from nofollow links. These links represent the conventional hyperlink format prevalent across the web. In other words, they lack any specific attributes—such as nofollow, UGC, or sponsored—distinguishing them as standard links.

In HTML markup, a follow link adopts this structure: <a href=”https://example.com/”>Click here</a>

In this representation, the absence of the aforementioned “rel” attributes indicates its status as a follow link.

Difference Between Follow and Nofollow

The primary distinction between nofollow and dofollow links lies in their impact on the search ranking of the linked page. The former type has the potential to enhance the search ranking of the linked page, whereas the latter type typically lacks this capability.

For instance, creating a dofollow link that is capable of influencing Apple’s search engine rankings.

Alternatively, utilising the rel=”nofollow” attribute indicates a nofollow link, which generally does not convey ranking authority to Apple’s site.

However, this doesn’t render nofollow links entirely ineffective. Nofollow links hold significance for several reasons:

  1. Referral Traffic: Even though nofollow links don’t directly impact search rankings, they can still drive valuable referral traffic from popular websites like Forbes.
  1. Exposure: Being mentioned on reputable sites boosts brand visibility, potentially leading to more follow backlinks and organic growth.
  1. Backlink Profile Diversity: Search engines favor a diverse backlink profile, comprising both nofollow and follow links. A balanced mix indicates organic growth and avoids suspicion of manipulative tactics.

So, in essence, while nofollow links may not directly affect SEO rankings, they contribute to overall website visibility and credibility.

When to Use Nofollow Links?

Here are the primary scenarios where nofollow links find their application:

  1. Disassociating from a Linked Page: When you wish to avoid endorsing or being associated with a particular webpage, such as linking to a gambling site without endorsing gambling itself, employing rel=”nofollow” signals this intention.
  1. Sponsored or Paid Links: In instances where a link is sponsored or purchased, irrespective of whether it directs to external sites or originates from your site, rel=”sponsored” should be utilised. This ensures compliance and transparency, particularly crucial for links leading to your site, guaranteeing that they are appropriately tagged when others link to you through paid channels.
  1. Affiliate Links: Similar to sponsored links, affiliate links pointing to or from your website should utilise rel=”sponsored” to maintain transparency and adherence to guidelines.
  1. User-Generated Content (UGC): To regulate links created by users within your website, such as those in comments or forum discussions, rel=”ugc” should be applied. This helps deter spamming efforts aimed at manipulating search rankings by ensuring proper categorisation of user-contributed links.
Avoid Nofollow Links

In the past, the nofollow attribute had extended its application beyond its original intent of influencing link equity flow from your page. An example of this misuse was the practice of employing the nofollow attribute on external links to concentrate link equity flow internally, a tactic known as PageRank sculpting. However, this strategy became obsolete as Google revamped its interpretation of nofollow links for PageRank allocation. Despite this, some misconceptions persist, leading to ineffective practices.

Two prevalent misapplications of the nofollow attribute include –

  • Indiscriminate use of the nofollow attribute on all external links from a site offers no SEO benefit and may even be detrimental.
  • Applying nofollow attributes to internal links is counterproductive.

By conducting a comprehensive audit, users can identify instances of improper nofollow usage, both in outgoing internal and external links. The tools we have today provide detailed reports on detected issues, enabling users to take corrective actions, such as removing unnecessary nofollow attributes and reassessing their usage where warranted.

This meticulous review ensures that nofollow attributes are judiciously applied, aligning with best practices for effective SEO optimisation.

Your Next Step:

Now that you understand the two types of links, your next step is to execute a good linking strategy for your website. It may not be everyone’s skill to devise a helpful linking strategy, so consider taking the help of an experienced SEO service in Sydney.

We recommend you connect with Make My Website — a renowned SEO and web design agency in Sydney. The experts at MMW have a great understanding of search engine optimisation and other complimentary services, such as email marketing and branding. So, give them a chance.

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