It is important to know the difference between do follow and no follow backlinks when linking out to other pages on your site or externally, as they operate differently from an SEO perspective.
What is a Do Follow Link?
Do Follow links is a link that has the standard ahref tag associated with it. These essential are a standard hyperlink with only required or standard info included. See below on the format these type of links take.
These links are indexed and rewarded by Google and help pass on SEO value to your webpage and increase its search ranking. Follow links also improve page and domain authority, while improving the overall search performance.
What Does a Do Follow Link Look Like
Do Follow links are the most basic form of the ahref tag, so they look like this.
These help to push SEO link juice and boost the ranking of a post that has been linked-to. Do Follow links can help you give your entire website a SEO boost with internal links and are an important part of successful SEO strategies.
What is a No Follow Link?
A nofollow link is a hyperlink with the including of the tag ‘no-follow’. Essentially you are instructing the search engine to disregard or ‘not to follow’ the link.
The reason you would want to mark a link ‘no follow’ is when you are either linking out to parts of your site or other sites that you don’t want the search engine to pay attention.
No Follow links (in technical terms) are HTML attribute values that are used to instruct a search engine bot that the hyperlink should not make any difference or influence the linked-out post’s ranking or other SERP metrics. If a search engine wants to obey this is their call, although they are usually pretty good about it.
See our guide on quick SEO improvements to understand how you can ensure you are using these types of links correctly on your site.
How does the No Follow HTML Tag Look?
Humans can easily follow these hyperlinks, and they are only meant to prevent the search engine bots from passing on link juice. Here is what the HTML tag looks like:
So, in real world, it would look something like this:
When To Use This Tag
If you have trouble understanding the places where you should be using a No Follow link, then this handy bullet list should make it easy for you.
- Paid links
- Content considered ‘untrusted’ by Google
- Or from article outreach through a well positioned email.
You could (at your own discretion) disable the No Follow attribute for blog commenters as a reward, to make them contribute more to your blogging community and online discussions.
Impact On SEO
Do Follow links are counted by PageRank to provide more link juice, which results in higher rankings for a particular page. PageRank in its unadulterated state is designed to calculate the most popular and thereby the best quality pages to deliver to searchers.
No follow provided a way for sites to link to others where they did not want to pass page rank to and jeopardize their own sites rankings by linking out to bad neighbourhoods.
No Follow attribute was created by Google in 2015 after the blogging community got tired of these practices.
These links are intended to reduce spam and provide relevant and a better search engine user experience. Google introduced this type of link to prevent spamdexing from happening in the first place.
Do Follow links are tagged with an HTML attribute which allows search engine bots to follow the links. People and search engines can easily follow the link to your site if a webmaster uses a Do Follow link. We recommend using only white hat link building strategies.
These links are very valuable to your website and internal pages because of the link juice and SEO boost they provide.
However, it’s critical that you aim for Do Follow links from reputable sites and not just anywhere.
These links help you gain more link points, boost your SEO, and increase PageRank metrics. All these are real votes of credibility in the eyes of Google and helps make your page rank higher.
Why Do No Follow Links Exist
No Follow tags are important which is only highlighted by the crooked and black-hat mentality commonly associated with SEO. This tag is crucial in the online world and has helped cut down spam to a major extent.
People have understood the value of original, relevant, and authentic content. Spammers no longer bother posting irrelevant links on random blogs and comment sections. They have stopped spamming various forums in a bid to get their pages to rank higher.
WordPress and Wikipedia have automatically started assigning No Follow attributes to all their user-submitted links and reference sections.
So What To Do
While completely different to do follow links, no follow links still are an important part of any SEO strategy and do add value. These links can still divert valuable referral traffic to your website or post.
A well-placed forum post or a relevant blog comment can manage to send a huge amount of referral traffic to your page, regardless of the link being Do Follow or No Follow. This can easily funnel down to conversions through leads you did not have access to before.
There are a number of factors considered by search engines apart from PageRank and link juice. Despite being No Follow, social signals from popular platforms, like Facebook and Twitter are increasingly valuable.
It is important to remember that all links, whether No Follow or Do Follow links are highly valuable and help build trust.
How to Spot a do-follow link
The easiest way to see whether a link is Follow or No Follow is to go to the Navigation bar in your Chrome browser and then click View>Developer>View Source. You can also access information by right clicking a webpage and hitting Inspect Element.
If using Firefox, choose View Page Source after right clicking. From there, click on ‘Edit’ and then ‘Find’. Enter ‘nofollow’ in the search box to highlight all instances of the nofollow tag.
There are a number of extensions available for download for both Chrome and Firefox if you want to further simplify the process.
For instance, NoFollowSimple is a popular extension for Chrome to look for No Follow Links. For Firefox there is SEO Quake, SearchStatus, and Nodofollow.
The principle of diversity is the current mantra in link-building. This means you need to have the right ratio of Do Follow and No Follow Links. In fact, the key to building your brand in today’s times is not to focus on SEO blindly.
You shouldn’t run your campaign with SEO as your prime motive. Regardless of the SEO value a link gets, you should use it if it adds to your business and brand value.
Look for links which can help set you up as an industry expert or authority. For instance, you should consider pursuing Wikipedia links when possible and appropriate, even if you only get a No Follow link.
You will need niche content, which is authoritative, reliable and relevant because Wikipedia is very picky. If you manage to land a link, then you can be sure to expect some great results, even a few Follow links.
No Follow links are a great option and should never be ignored, but you still need some Do Follow links as well. The best way to get Follow links is to do it honestly and through traditional methods.
Put in efforts to create original and awesome content which gets shared naturally. This will automatically get your post linked to by other bloggers.
You could also consider a blogger outreach campaign for guest blogging posts, where you can link out to your own page or any content page.
It helps when you leave guest posts on sites similar to yours, so that you get to build relevant referral traffic, in addition to getting a SEO boost. See our guide on how to run a profitable SEO company if you are an SEO agency, and here if you want to know if you should do SEO yourself or use and agency.
How to Balance Do Follow and No Follow Links
You need to have both these link types in the right ratio because having too much of any one will not give you the results you need.
It is impossible for you to enjoy organic traffic from Google search engine results if you lack any of these links. The long term success of your blog or website depends on the right balance.
For instance, if your links are majorly Do Follow links, then Google and other search engines will consider it as highly manipulative and tag your post as spam (even if you did not undertake black-hat tactics).
On the other hand, if majority of your links are No Follow rather than do follow links, the search engine bots will be unable to index that post and you will not be able to climb the rankings.
So, the best thing to do is balance the links by being honest and upfront. Focus on the individual reader rather than simply driving traffic to your website like cattle hordes.
Ask yourself, whether your content is really user-oriented and adds value to a reader’s intent? Don’t worry whether the referral is through Do Follow or No Follow links.
Soon, with this balancing act in place, you will notice high-authority websites like Forbes, linking out to your posts. This will automatically get the search engines to take notice and reward your post.
The Bottom Line
Make sure you remember that both No Follow and Do Follow are important if you want a perfect link profile. Ultimately, you should aim for a healthy balance between the two.
Even though, Do Follow links are more valuable from a SEO point of view, both of these links are vital to your online marketing strategy.
Link Juice Explanation
Before you begin to differentiate between the different link types and the kind of impact they can have on your SEO strategy, it’s fundamental to understand the basic concept of link juice.
A site gets a small SEO boost whenever an inbound link or a hyperlink points to that post. Links can be better explained as points. You get more SEO points with more links, but not always. See here about other quick SEO site improvements all sites can use.
Google’s algorithm watches out for these points and calculates the number of inbound links a post has. It also checks out the websites the post gets links from.
Link juice is the accumulation of link points and is the basis on which backlinks are categorized. This is the value a potential backlink will give to your blog or site.
In short, if a link is valuable, more juice gets passed along to your site. You can pass this juice over to other pages in your site by using internal links and even pass it over to other sites with the help of external linking.
Imagine your site has a fantastic new post about making money online through blogging and you managed to score a number of quality backlinks to this page.
Now, if you get a link from another popular site, like Forbes, Financial Times, Bloomberg, and CNNMoney, then a lot of quality link juice would be flowing through your site.
This flow makes your site look more credible and relevant in the search engine algorithms making it rank higher.
This is why quality links are more important than just getting any link. You don’t need volume, but relevant links from other authority sites, especially after the Penguin Google update. Google figures that if a lot of different websites have linked out to a certain post, then it must be very good.
In this example, your money-making post is getting a lot of juice from some very authoritative websites. Google will give preference Do follow link to your post over other pages of similar topic to give the best to their search engine users.
This calculation is through a metric called PageRank which Google included with a recent update. You get a bigger boost of link juice with a more reputable site.