The alternative SEO rank tracker

Nofollow links: definition and how to take advantage of them to improve SEO

Nofollow links | 

Links with the Nofollow tag are usually not very interesting because, in theory, they do not help to position, so most SEO strategies focus on getting inbound links from relevant prestigious websites, with dofollow links that transfer part of their authority to them.

However, Nofollow links are very important nowadays for SEO, first, because they can help to get traffic (like the nofollow links you get from YouTube or Facebook, for example), and secondly, because recently Google has announced that now gives value to nofollow links for positioning (to a lesser extent than dofollow links, but starts to take them into account).

Table of content

What is a Nofollow link?

A Nofollow link is a link whose HTML tag includes the nofollow parameter to indicate to search engines that this link should not be followed (it does not influence web positioning).

Nofollow is used in the HTML structure of a link as follows:

 				 					<a href="" rel ="nofollow">anchor text</a> 				 			

How do search engines consider the Nofollow?

The main search engines give great importance to nofollow:

  • Google. Google strictly disregards the rel = “nofollow” tag, causing its bots to nofollow links that contain it.
  • Bing. This search engine does not provide information on nofollow, but it is intuitive that it does heed the advice to nofollow links.
  • Yahoo. This search engine uses the links to help new related searches.

Google is the search engine that dominates the market and is at a sidereal distance from Bing or Yahoo, so for SEO the most important thing is how Google treats the nofollow.

The main use of nofollow for Google is to know which links it should not follow or use to distribute the link juice.

Nofollow links vs. Follow links

For a user, a “follow” link and a “nofollow” link are apparently the same, but for Google, their meaning is clearly different. If you look at the HTML of the links you can see the difference in the code of both:

 				 					 <a href="">link text</a>.   <a href="" rel="nofollow">link text</a>. 				 			

Dofollow links are followed by Google bots and transfer authority between sites, while nofollow links are followed by users, but not by Googlebots.

For example, WordPress automatically assigns nofollow links to any comment that a user enters in the comments, preventing them from being used only as a way to get backlinks.

Social networks are also committed to automatically including the nofollow tag in the links that come from their platform, to prevent it from becoming a kind of link farm.

The history of rel ="nofollow".

Nofollow links emerged in 2005 as a response to the problem of link farms to boost web positioning. With this type of link system, a newly created website already had thousands of inbound links and got a good position in the SERPs. In this environment, the internet was full of websites and blogs full of spam and junk that were only used for link exchanges, and link buying was the bread and butter of SEO.

The nofollow managed to curb this problem, but Google did not solve it completely until 2009 when it announced that link juice, or authority that is transferred in inbound links only affected normal or dofollow links.

Advantages of using nofollow in some links

Let’s see why it is interesting for SEO to use nofollow in some links:

Link diversification

Getting nofollow links will allow you to create a balance of incoming links, between normal or follow links and nofollow links. This type of balance is well regarded by Google that always bets on websites that do things in a natural way and not forcing situations just to improve web positioning (forgetting the user).

Brand building

Nofollow links help to build the brand, accessing links from important websites that generate high traffic, making the site and the brand known (even if they are no-follow links).

It is easier to get nofollow links than dofollow links, so it is interesting to use them in branding strategies, the introduction of new products and services or brand consolidation.

Generating referral traffic with nofollow links

A nofollow link is not followed by Google bots, but it is followed by users. Therefore, although they do not have a great influence on domain authority, they are an interesting source of web traffic.

Attracting visitors from YouTube or Facebook, for example, is a way to increase web traffic and increase the chances of conversions.

Attract potential customers

It doesn’t matter if a link is dofollow or nofollow if it attracts a user interested in what the company offers. The main objective of a web page is to achieve conversions, whether it is capturing quality leads, subscriptions to services or product sales. If nofollow links attract quality users, their importance will be maximum because they facilitate the conversion process (less effort and time to guide them through the sales funnel).

Get dofollow links

It is important to remember that nofollow links are invisible to users. If a user comes to the site from a nofollow link if he likes the content and its functionalities he may end up making an interesting dofollow link.

Google is suspicious of sites that have only dofollow links or few nofollow links because it is not natural. It is possible that sites with these types of features are using techniques and actions that go against Google’s own guidelines.

When to use nofollow links

There are many reasons why it is interesting to use the nofollow tag for a link. The main reasons for its use are:

  • To link to websites that do not have a thematic relationship with the website, indicating to Google that this link is very useful for the user, but not for positioning purposes.
  • To link to disreputable sites.
  • To link to sites that do not have a thematic relationship with the website.
  • To link to sites of dubious reputation.
  • To link to sites of dubious reputation.
  • To link to sites of dubious reputation.
  • For internal links between pages or blogs within the same IP. This will prevent Google from thinking that it is a kind of link farm to improve ranking in the SERPs.

So, do nofollow links help improve SEO?

After all that has been said, nofollow links are not only important for SEO, but they are vital in any positioning and conversion strategy.

The main reasons why nofollow links help improve SEO are:

In September 2019 Google announced that nofollow links take them into account (index and crawl them), in addition to implementing two new attributes, sponsored (for advertising or sponsorship content) and UGC (for user-created content).

Nofollow links offer SEO benefits indirectly, such as:

  • Avoid possible Google penalties.
  • Helps generate natural links that transfer authority.
  • Increases web traffic, increasing site visibility and the likelihood of conversions.
  • Help adjust the crawl budget, preventing Googlebots from crawling URLs that do not want to rank.

We can conclude that nofollow links are very interesting for SEO as long as they are accompanied by a good volume of web traffic, and much more if those visits are composed of users within the target of the website.

The nofollow link is not usually treated with great importance or priority because it indicates to Googlebot that it should not follow it or take it into account. Users, however, see a follow and nofollow link and find no difference.

Many aggressive digital marketing strategies focus exclusively on getting quality links to increase domain authority. This can end up raising suspicions in Google who will wonder if it is not some fraudulent strategy to get better positions in Google. Optimizing the dofollow and nofollow links of a business is the best way to optimize backlinks and get to appear at the top of the SERPs.