The “No follow” link is one of the easiest HTML tags and one that’s vital for your SEO. Learn exactly what the Nofollow attribute does, when you should and should not use it on links, and why it matters to SEO.
Nofollow link is not a new concept. People have been using it for like 14 years. To give you a better understanding let’s dive into the topic.
What Does A No Follow Link Actually Mean?
Nofollow links are hyperlinks with the rel=“nofollow” tag.
These links do not impact on the search engine rankings because Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across them. In reality, Google doesn't even crawl on links that are nofollowed. In short, the nofollow tag tells Google to ignore that link.
Nofollow links emerged in 2005 and it came about as a reaction to blog spam comments. According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:
“Links marked with these rel attributes will generally not be followed.”
The nofollow tag is simply a code for search engines that says "don't count this."
Using No Follow Links: Adding The Tag Manually
You have to follow the following steps to add the nofollow tag manually:
1. Start by writing the basic link HTML. For example:
<a href="https://backlinkseo.com">Text to the link</a>
2. Add the rel=“nofollow” tag before the first >
<a href="https://backlinkseo.com" rel="nofollow">Text to the link</a>
3. Use the “sponsored” tag if the link is paid in this way:
<a href="https://backlinkseo.com" rel="sponsored nofollow">Text to the link</a>
In the case of an affiliate link, it might look a bit more confusing because it’s much longer, but the basic concept is somewhat the same.
You can copy-paste the above links on your website where HTML is accepted.
Completing these 3 simple steps, the link will now be a nofollow link.
But what are the functions of these new attributes like “sponsored”?
Nofollow Links in Real World: Updates in 2020
Google announced that nofollow attributes will no longer be a hint in March 2020. Rather, it would be a directive. Some still have doubts about the announcement but here’s the confirmation.
Evolving “nofollow” – new ways to identify the nature of links - Google’s Announcement.
Google added 2 more rel attributes for identifying the intent of links which are: rel=“sponsored” and rel=“ugc”.
- rel=“sponsored” is used to identify paid links. It is also used to identify links that are on your site created as part of advertisements, sponsorships, or other paid agreements.
- rel=“ugc” is used to identify user-generated content like blog comments and forum posts.
The new attributes can be used with the nofollow link.
If your links don't fall into any of the updated categories, but you still want to tell Google that you're not vouching for them, just use nofollow.
When Should You Use No Follow Links?
Let’s take a look at what Google says about qualifying your outbound links:
What they meant was that links marked with these rel attributes will generally not be followed. Whereas nofollow was previously used as a general catchall for links that you didn't want to pass via PageRank, now it is used when the other two rel attributes (sponsored and UGC) aren't relevant and you don't want a link to pass PageRank.
When Shouldn’t You Use No Follow Links?
If you give somebody a link because you want to, you think it's a good source, and you haven't been given anything or paid for it, you don't need to nofollow it.
If you don't see that it can in any way be considered a link designed to manipulate PageRank, you don't need to follow it.
Some bloggers nofollow all the outbound links of their website. This is also a mistake unless your business or website exists only to sell links.
What Are The Benefits of Using No Follow Links?
A nofollow link brings value to your website in so many ways.
The best part about nofollowed links is that they're fantastic for traffic and can give you a lot more traffic than many of the followed links. A nofollowed link may not help you rank higher – but with the decision to interpret it as a hint instead of a directive, it could still do.
Even though we conclude that nofollow links have no direct effect on SEO, these may still have an indirect impact because:
1. Help Diversifying Your Profile
Usually, natural backlink profiles are diversified as they contain several follow and nofollow links. A diversified profile gets more attention than the ones containing more follow links. People find those weird and fishy.
So, the question arises whether it is good or bad to have more followed links? The answer is pretty simple. It’s always a good sign as long as there’s diversity. What you shouldn’t do is to keep 100% “dofollow” links as this will be a clear sign of manipulation.
2. Drive More Traffic
Links are not only useful for SEO purposes. They push the referral traffic too.
That's why we're so interested in Quora.
If you haven't heard of Quora before, it's a Q&A website where everyone can answer questions that people post. Within these responses, Quora makes it possible to connect to the relevant resources.
But all the outbound links at Quora are nofollowed. So, these are not affecting SEO. But this will drive more traffic to your site.
3. Leads To Follow Links Using No Follow links
What’s interesting is that you can use the nofollowed link discussed above to lead to a followed link. You can answer the questions of the users and attach the links of your profile or website.
For someone to link you, you need to remember this order.
- Users will see your content or post.
- They will enjoy the content.
- They will refer it to others.
As nofollow links help with the first step, they often act as a catalyst for followed links.
4. Help Avoiding Google Penalties
There are also some legitimate reasons to pay for links.
If a website gets loads of traffic, buying a sponsored post on that site will actually make sense. And if you pay good money for a feature, you'll probably want to provide a backlink so that readers can easily find your website.
But there's a problem. Google states that the paid links followed are in contravention of its Webmaster Guidelines.
We can see two groups in the SEO community. One thinks that Google can find the paid links algorithmically and the other thinks that it can’t. Even if the second one is true, you can’t buy and sell to your heart’s content.
Anyone can report and help Google to maintain the quality of the search results by using a tool developed by Google.
So, what we can conclude from this point is that you should fear your competitors more than Google. Your competitor, when they will see you ranking higher, can easily bring you down by using various tools to inspect your website and report the paid links. If they get tools like BacklinkSEO to get the insights of your company, why wouldn’t they report?
Another common question can be:
To Follow or Not To Follow?
For an SEO professional, the real question is whether to use follow links or nofollow links. Let’s find out:
- If you are trusting a source and you want to vouch for the source.
- Guest posting – unless they’re posting on a large scale. This is for a guest post where you are not paying for the post.
- Link to social media profiles.
- If you sold a link.
- When someone paid you to link their content.
- When you are in any way nervous that you might be penalized for the link.
- Sitewide link to the person who designed your site – although many people will follow links to company names.
How To Decipher Between Follow and No Follow Links?
If you’re using Google Chrome, go to the navigation bar and click View>Developer>View Source. Alternatively, right-click on the page you are browsing and hit Inspect Element. And if you’re using Mozilla Firefox, right-click and hit View Page Source.
Click on Edit>Find and search for “nofollow” in the search box. All the highlighted parts will be the nofollowed links of the page.
For SEO professionals who want to keep track of no follow links carefully and quickly, there are a lot of extensions available to download for Chrome and Firefox that will automatically highlight nofollow and dofollow links on the pages you visit.
Difference Between No Follow and No Index
The noindex link is a metatag that you apply to certain pages on your website. This tag tells search engines not to add a particular page to their index.
On the other hand, nofollow links tell search engines not to follow a specific link. So if you don't want an indexed page, the nofollow link won't function. Instead, use the noindex tag.
It’s Your Turn To Act
In the case of SEO, nofollow links play a vital part. We hope you got some useful insights on nofollow links and you can use it according to your company’s goals.
Remember to make nofollow links work for you not against you. Also, make a balance of dofollow and nofollow links to create a perfect profile. What are you waiting for? Get started with what you learned from this post.
Have more questions? Reach us at BacklinkSEO to monitor changes in your links and detect the heartbeats of your links while you focus on your business.