Before Google introduced DoFollow and NoFollow backlinks in 2005, the internet was a chaotic mess of spam links and under-handed marketing efforts to boost rankings.
Today, marketers agree that link-building is one of the toughest aspects of SEO, and the advent of NoFollow links has added to the challenge.
But what are NoFollow and DoFollow links, and why do they matter? This quick guide will give you everything you need to know.
What Are DoFollow and NoFollow Links?
When building a backlink strategy for your website, you’re aiming for DoFollow links, but what’s the difference between DoFollow and NoFollow links?
A DoFollow link passes the authority of the origin website to you. That passing of authority is known as “link juice”, which helps boost your SEO and domain authority.
By default, any link you add to a website is a DoFollow link, so there’s no need to add any code. Google will automatically assume you trust the site you’re linking to and use it as a signal of that site’s trustworthiness.
A NoFollow link doesn’t pass the authority from the origin site onto yours, so you don’t get any of that link juice. Some marketers argue that these links are still helpful in terms of SEO. Either way, they’re not useful for a backlink campaign.
You have to purposefully make a link NoFollow by adding “rel=”nofollow” to the code when linking to a website. Brands might also use unlinked mentions, which have the same effect.
NoFollow links were initially introduced in 2005 when comment spamming became an issue. People realized they could leave a comment on a publication’s blog comments section and add a link to a website to boost SEO in a spammy way.
Now, websites set comment sections to NoFollow, so this linking tactic doesn’t work. NoFollow links are also commonly used for paid sponsorships and affiliate posts.
When Should You Use Dofollow Links?
Whenever you link to a trustworthy, high-domain authority website, you should use a DoFollow link. These links act as a digital vote of confidence and show you trust the website you are linking to.
You also need DoFollow links from publications to build a backlinking campaign. These links should be from valuable, high-DA websites to help boost your website’s SEO rankings.
In general, there are four scenarios where DoFollow backlinks are used:
- Editorial backlinks: these links are within the body of an article. Getting an editorial DoFollow link from a respected publication will significantly boost your website’s DA and SEO rankings.
- Guest Posts: When you publish a guest post on a website, you’ll usually get a DoFollow link pointing to your website in the Author Bio at the end of the article. These aren’t as valuable as editorial backlinks but still contribute to your DA and SEO.
- Citations: If you post valuable, interesting information, you might get natural citations from different sources. These must be high-quality sources to improve your SEO – low-quality websites can harm your efforts.
- Collaborations: By partnering with a brand in a similar niche, you can include promotional links to each other’s websites to help boost awareness and SEO.
Digital PR is the best way to secure high-value backlinks from top publications. If you’re just starting out, head to our beginner’s guide to link-building to find out more.
When Should You Use Nofollow Links?
There are a few scenarios where NoFollow links are more appropriate. Any links to low-quality websites can seriously harm your SEO and DA efforts, so you need to be picky about what sites you link to.
Here are three scenarios where you should turn a link into a NoFollow:
- Sponsored content: Any paid partnerships, sponsored content, or advertising need to include NoFollow links. This ensures your website complies with Google’s search engine policies and shows you’re not trying to manipulate rankings.
- User-generated content: If you allow your community to add content to your website, all links must be NoFollow, including within comment sections and forums.
- Unverified or untrusted sources: If you can’t fully trust or endorse a website but still take a quote or reference from it, use a NoFollow link (or an unlinked mention if you don’t want to include a link at all). You might find an interesting article or statistic you want to share but don’t risk your SEO efforts if the website is unreliable.
Are Dofollow and Nofollow Links Good For SEO?
DoFollow links are great for SEO as long as they come from reputable sources. If you start getting a lot of DoFollow links from low-quality or spammy websites, Google might start classing your website as the same.
NoFollow links are more complicated. Although they don’t have as much sway as DoFollow links, there is a correlation between rankings, domain authority, and backlinks (of all types).
A study by Ahrefs had some interesting results on this topic:
The results suggest that Google does consider NoFollow backlinks coming from high-authority sites; the effect is just weaker than DoFollow links.
When it comes to creating a strategic backlinking campaign, always aim for DoFollow links from high-authority sources for the best results.
Best Practices For Using DoFollow and NoFollow Links
So, how do you use DoFollow and NoFollow links correctly? Here’s a quick guide to keep you on track.
- Aim for a general ratio of 60% DoFollow links and 40% NoFollow links on your website. This means you can focus on the highest quality links for your SEO efforts.
- Always disclose whether a page contains affiliate or sponsored content, and use NoFollow links throughout that page for the paid opportunities.
- Regularly audit your website’s link profile and ensure each link is still correctly attributed as either DoFollow or NoFollow.
- Stay informed of Google’s search engine guidelines and how they could impact your backlink strategy.
- Always check if a backlink opportunity from a high-authority source is NoFollow or DoFollow – they usually make it clear in their guidelines.
Get High-Quality DoFollow Links With A Digital PR Campaign
Creating a winning link-building strategy has a lot of challenges. The best backlinks come from high-authority websites, but they are incredibly picky about what sites they’ll include DoFollow links to.
Luckily, we’re here to help. At Linkifi, we create the best digital PR campaigns that secure DoFollow backlinks from high-authority publications. We’ll create the pitch, write the content, and track your campaign progress, giving you a stress-free way to boost your SEO rankings and domain authority. Get in touch today for a free consultation.