There’s a huge cloud of confusion surrounding NoFollow links. Only a small section of marketers and web owners seem to understand it accurately.
Everything started back in 2012 when Google first introduced their Penguin algorithm to the world. Backlinks were placed at the center of it all, as one of the most crucial ranking elements – and with it, came a series of link-related risks that have since become a hot topic of discussion.
As a way to counter this, and at least keep websites safe from some of these risks, NoFollow links were introduced.
Much has been said about this type of link. Starting with the fact that the links have absolutely zero impact, with some still relying on some outmoded Google statement that seemed to suggest that No Follow link don’t pass PageRank, and can as such NOT put you at risk of a Google Penalty.
To find out if the statement hold water, and if there’s anything that you’re likely to gain from a NoFollow link, then you might want to read the rest of this article to find out more about it, and what Google actually says about it.
What’s NoFollow Links, for those who’ve Never Heard of the Term Before?
NoFollow link is basically a tag that webmasters use to instruct Google and other search engines NOT to follow a link or a list of links on a particular webpage. Usually, a link will have a rel attribute that defines the relationship the link has with the page it’s pointing to. Read this bearing in mind that one link can have more than one rel attributes, where the rel is essentially a shortened version of relationship.
A normal tag looks like this:
But when the NOFollow attribute is introduced, it’ll look like the link below:
Oftentimes, such links will be used in the comment section of a blog or a forum in a bid take off any incentive that comes with automatic link spamming. But interesting enough, comment spamming still persists.
So it’s easy to write off NoFollow links as completely pointless. But hold on for a minute – the fact that some people are using them means there’s some latent value in being linked to one.
They might propel you immediately to the first page of search engine ranks, but there’s some real value in having one, and which you’re about to find out by reading the rest of this article.
The Difference between “NoFollow” and “DoFollow” Links
To understand the value of NoFollow links, it’s helpful to also look at what’s meant by “Do Follow” links and how they came into being.
If you’ve been around since the early days of blogging or when Google first rolled out the penguin update, then you must be well aware of how spammers invaded bloggers’ comment section and started filling them with low quality, ad laden links that often directed to poor quality sites.
Upon noticing this, Google and bloggers had to come up with the ‘nofollow’ attribute to counter the problem. With this link, they were able to prevent search engine from following the links. Meaning, for a while, the links stopped carrying any SEO juice.
This would however prove to be a problem as freeloading advertisers wouldn’t tell whether or NOT the host sites they were signing up with were reliable and trustworthy.
The problem would also stretch to affect search engines, as paid links started carrying so much influence on search rankings. As a result, search engines were also forced to suggest that paid searches also used the “nofollow” attribute.
To find out if a link has a nofollow or dofollow attribute, all you have to do is right click on it and click on inspect element. If it has the rel=”nofollow” attribute, then it’s a ‘nofollow’ link. If it doesn’t, then you got it right – it’s a ‘dofollow’ link.
So how do NoFollow Links Get to have SEO Value?
They’re Still about Driving Traffic to Your Site
And when you look at it carefully, link building is mostly concerned about creating more space for other people to discover your website or blog. People get to find out about your website through another site, and then decide to check it out. Once in, you get to engage them through the content you publish and in the process, end up converting them into active customers.
What’s important is for you to come up with creative ways to get more people to click through the links and consider checking your site out. So whether it’s a NoFollow or DoFollow, so long as a good chunk of the people seeing it get to click it and check you out, then it’s safe to say the link would have served its purpose.
That’s the whole purpose of SEO – generating the much-needed traffic, which translates to leads. The leads will then lead to an engagement that would in the end translate to more profits.
Think of NoFollow links as referral links and you’d be in a better position to understand their value better. A good example is a link placed on Wikipedia or any citation site. The fact that Wikipedia still stands as one of the most visited sites out there, there’ll always be more to gain when your site is linked to it.
The core reason being the link will be generating lots of interest to your site, and even when the link fails to directly produce any link juice, the fact that there’ll be people seeing it makes it enough to direct a good amount of traffic to your site.
Latent Link Juice
No Follow links aren’t some form of dead links, but more like turned off taps. By link juice what is basically meant is that there has to be a flow of value from one page to another. But assuming you have many of these links connecting to your site. The links can’t open to your site, but the fact that the site is linked to a highly authoritative site, that’s reason enough for search engines to reconsider their stance and factor it into their ranking calculations.
Search engines take note of the links, but they instead choose to act blind on them. But when you look at it, search engines are more advanced than we give them credit for, and little bit more technical than that.
So they’ll still be looking at the overall frequency of the links and general placement, and when they notice that the links are coming from highly authoritative sites, they go ahead and rank them accordingly.
Think of no follow links as pipes, through which there’ll be traffic flowing from other sites to your site either soon or later. The more you have them, the more you’ll be increasing the number of people you direct to your site.
It’s a Natural Thing to Do
The last thing you want to do is give an impression that you’re attempting to trick the search engine system for a prime ranking. So you end up creating so many Do Follow links that give the impression that you’re trying to game the system.
What’s natural is that there will be a mixture of both No Follow and Do Follow links. And if that’s the case, search engines will NOT be suspicious of your online activities, and will as such be willing to rank you favorably.
The point is to try to be as natural as it’s humanly possible. So instead of going around guest blogging or exchanging links only with sites that offer Do Follow links, you focus on publishing quality content on so many authoritative sites without focusing on the outcome.
Before search engines pick on them and consider them as one of the ranking factors – in the meantime, you can expect to get more clicks and more viewers for your site through them.
Your Authoritative Status
Assuming that the No Follow links directing to your site from a long list of authoritative sites don’t really get to bring any SEO value to your site. There’s still one crucial element that you’re almost forgetting.
The fact that you’re linked to an authoritative site, where advertisers and other listing services can pick on it, alters the overall perception of your website. This may even influence advertisers’ decisions on whether or NOT there’s value in doing business with you.
Meaning, no follow links will still count with the rest of the links when calculating your site’s metrics.
So in a way, a no follow link works by improving your site’s metrics and authority, which can go a long way to also improve your SEO score and secure a prime ranking for your site over the long haul.
Let’s wrap it up
“Do follow” links, especially when they’re coming from a highly authoritative and respected site still stand as one of the most valuable links you can ever get for your site. They’ll directly impact your SEO score and propel you further up in the search engine ranks.
But until you get a popular site to offer you that, there’s still some hidden value in working for No Follow links, and this posts probably sums it all in black and while.