Backlinks are a vital factor for rankings when it comes to SEO. Gaining quality ranking signal for search engines is the primary motive of any SEO plan.
A study of 27,000 competitive keywords concluded with the fact that all the web pages with high page rank had an external, high-quality link associated with them. It also found that writing useful and actionable content without proactively building natural links is not an effective strategy while having over 4 million posts published every day.
It thus gets imperative to understand how the variety, quantity, and quality of natural links affect your rankings within search results and your overall search engine optimization, as a result.
Generally, it is more challenging to acquire a high-quality backlink, with a higher value. Thus, you must know how to build scalable links, have creative strategies for building links, and build links without working on fresh content.
It can be annoying if you spend time and dump finances into link building for SEO, to get the least or zero results on rankings. Some people eventually realize that the backlinks they’ve been spending so much time and money building were Nofollow links.
So, the time, money, effort seems to be wasted. As already stated, the ideal motive is to benefit from SEO and link-building. Link popularity is one of the top-ranking factors in SEO.
What are Nofollow Links and do they help with SEO?
Nofollow links are links having a rel=“nofollow” HTML tag attached to them. The Nofollow tag guides search engines to ignore the link. This is because Nofollow links do not pass ‘PageRank’. So, they are not likely to impact search engine rankings. In other words, using Nofollow links, a person working on linking; plays with the HTML to guide Google not to give any additional juice to the linked website.
Dofollow Links vs. Nofollow Link: Difference?
The significant technical variance between a Dofollow and a Nofollow is that a nofollow link has a no-follow tag. A user, visually cannot tell the difference between a nofollow and dofollow link. This is because you can click on, copy and use a ‘nofollow link’ like any other link on the web.
But, when it comes to SEO, there is a vast difference that can be figured out between nofollow and dofollow links:
- Dofollow links help your search engine rankings
- Nofollow links stay neutral and don’t generally help with rankings.
Google and other search engines utilize links as a key ranking signal. But they only count dofollow links in their algorithm. As stated by Google, nofollow links don’t even pass any PageRank.
And if the link doesn’t send PageRank, i.e., link juice, it’s not going to boost the Google rankings.
That’s why most of the SEO developers rely more on dofollow than nofollow for link building.
How to Check backlink for Dofollow or Nofollow?
You can check if a link is nofollow or not! Here’s the guide:
- Right-click on your browser and click on “View page source”.
- Look for the link in the HTML page.
- If you find a rel=”nofollow” attribute, then that link is a nofollow link. If you don’t find one, the link is dofollow.
You can use the “Strike Out Nofollow Links” feature from the Chrome extension to discard nofollow links.
A sneak into the history of Nofollow Links:
The nofollow tag was primarily built by Google to combat the blog comment spam. With the increasing popularity of blogs, comment spamming flamed. Spammers left links that landed on their site in the comments. This gave birth to two major problems:
- Spammy sites started ranking well on Google, pushing below the high-quality sites from search results.
- Blog comment spam spun out of control in no time, because the tactic worked well.
So, in 2005, Google helped develop the nofollow tag and rolled it into their algorithm. Other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo, adopted it as well.
Do Nofollow Links Help With SEO?
People may differ in their opinion on Nofollow link and its impact on SEO. Some say they have ZERO impact while others claim that Nofollow links may not be as powerful as dofollow, but they still help.
So, lets first know, what Google says about nofollow links?
Google says, “In general, we don’t follow them.” This means they DO follow them in certain odd cases.
Certain cases have shown that nofollow backlinks have a similar impact on rankings as the dofollow backlinks.
Thus, we can say that Nofollow links do have some SEO value, especially when those links are from related sites.
So, what are the presumed benefits of Nofollow Links for SEO?
Nofollow links can DIRECTLY aid SEO.
With it not being concluded completely worthless, Nofollow links have the potential to lead to higher rankings in Google.
Nofollow links can bring you TRAFFIC.
We must not forget that the right nofollow link can generate a considerable amount of targeted traffic.
Nofollow links are a part of the natural link profile.
If Google finds your link profile to be unnatural, you are at risk of Google penalty. Nofollow links carry a significant chunk of a natural link profile. For example, YouTube; According to Ahrefs, 8% of YouTube links are nofollow. So, it shows that natural link profiles do possess some nofollow links.
SEO boost to your referenced pages
It might sound deceiving. You might be thinking how SEO can boost up your pages that carry a nofollow backlink when the whole point was to restrict Google from attributing domain authority to the referenced pages?
But Google has an answer to that. The people creating the secretive Google algorithm know that websites try to use nofollow links to protect their SEO by not helping another website’s SEO. Google knows, regardless of nofollow link, you’re still linking to them. So, say Nofollow link works in a veiled manner, but it does!
The potential of social media to gain online success is not unknown to people working on SEO. You know how often you need to post on which platform to build an audience, brand awareness, and thereby drive traffic, conversions and leads to your website.
But, these social signals through your social media accounts can help you build SEO. Google uses social signals to ascertain how updated your website is, its popularity, and activity. Every social media being different in its ways, but all the social signals are nofollow.
This simply means more activity on social media, more links you’ll receive to your website, especially when your share blog content from your domain.
So, every time you post, every updated social media account, and every share you generate, you build nofollow links that are beneficial for your SEO.
The domino effect of link building
In a pyramid of lined Dominoes, when one is hit, an effect it generated that impacts the other dominoes too. This indicates a truth about the world of link building.
In SEO terms, you can say: If you miss on having backlinks, you can’t generate more backlinks from those current backlinks. While having lots of backlinks in the digital world, more people can reach and find you out, regardless of the link’s tags of dofollow or nofollow.
So, we can say that link building is like a self-perpetuating cycle. The more links you work on, the more links it will attract. At some point in time, it would merely matter if those backlinks are nofollow or dofollow.
For example, Most of the successful ranking websites carry massive backlinks; without worrying about dofollow or nofollow. They are all concerned to build links, and they know how a nofollow link on their website can swiftly turn into a dofollow link on another website when it reaches the right person. So, you can take on this experiment of spreading links all over the Internet and allow the domino effect to work.
What contains the recent policy change from Google for Nofollow, UGC and Sponsored links?
After 15 years, in 2019, Google altered how nofollow works. It is now a hint for both crawling and ranking. Two brand new attributes, rel=“ugc” and rel=“sponsored” have also been added to the list.
According to this change, nofollow is meant for links where you don’t wish to imply any endorsement or pass-ranking credit to another website. Sponsored works in a similar context. But it also shows that the link is an advertisement, paid promotion, sponsorship, or an affiliate link.
UGC (User Generated Content) works in the same context as nofollow but outlines that the link is added by an outsourced party, i.e., someone else. This attribute needs to be used for comments, forum posts, or any other content segment where users wish to add content.
The new attributes are optional. But Google wished that people use them to have a better understanding of linking patterns and how links are working across the web.
So, this means at this point of time, you don’t need to plan any changes, and it is entirely up to you if you want to or not enrol these changes into your link building pattern.
Does this change in policy demand changes to be made by publishers?
The most probable answer to this question can be: “NO”.
Google doesn’t currently expect sites to make changes. But there can be cases where website owners may wish to implement these new attributes; such as:
- Sites that wish to assist Google in better understanding the sites they are linking to. For example, it would benefit everyone if Wikipedia would adopt these changes.
- Sites that utilize nofollow for crawl control. With websites using extensive faceted navigation, nofollow can be a tool at preventing Google from wasting crawl budget. So, these attributes may demand attention.
It can be concluded that if your website is properly using nofollow, SEOs do not need any changes after this policy change. Though the owners are free to decide the use of the following attributions:
- rel=”sponsored” – For paid or sponsored links.
- rel=”ugc” – Links within all user-generated content.
- rel=”nofollow” – A catchall for all nofollow links.
Also, you can experiment with a combination of attributes, and it would be 100% valid.
Google’s use of these policy change and new link attributes may evolve, and what is there in the future can only be said through further study and analysis after some time.
Your motive isn’t to build your SEO rankings; you might be already having that. An important goal is driving leads, generating traffic, conversions, and revenue. Link building offers all these benefits, and you must focus on that for outstanding success.