An important factor in SEO are backlinks. What are backlinks, you may ask: Well, backlinks are basically just other websites linking to your website. Why is this important? Link building is very important, but not every link has the same value. If a major website like “Forbes” links to your website, it has a high value because Google already trusts Forbes and it is a well-known authority. Now, if you get a link from a new website that Google doesn’t know about yet, that link obviously doesn’t have as much value.

What is the domain authority?

DA (Domain Authority) is a metric, a search engine ranking score developed by Moz. DA can range from 0 to 100, and the higher your score, the better you will rank. Domain Authority is calculated from several factors, but mainly from the links pointing to your website. Google doesn’t use this metric, but it’s a great metric for us SEOs.

Now why did I mention the domain authority? Well, if you get a backlink from a high DA website, that is much more valuable than a link from a low DA website.

Domain Authority by Moz

What is Link Juice or Link Equity?

So we have explained domain authority and that links are important. One question you may be asking yourself is: How can I increase my domain authority? Link Juice or Link Equity is the concept that certain links pass authority values to the linked website.

If you want to know more about link equity, read Moz’s article: What is Link Equity?

Link juice or link equity

What are “dofollow” links?

We have explained Domain Authority and Link Juice. Now comes the interesting part: earlier we said that only certain links pass authority values, can you guess which ones they are? Exactly, dofollow backlinks pass authority. Therefore, you should get “dofollow” links from great websites.

What are “nofollow” links?

Nofollow links basically tell search engine crawlers not to follow that link. Nofollow links therefore do not convey authority and therefore do not increase link value.

Now a little test. Here are 2 links and I want to know which is the “dofollow” link and which is the “nofollow” link:

  • SiriousThoughts
    SiriousThoughts

Exactly, you can’t tell the difference just by looking at the so-called anchor text.

How to create dofollow or nofollow links

A link in HTML looks like this:

Anchor text

As you can see, in this case it is a nofollow link. You can use the rel=”nofollow” attribute to specify this. In WordPress you can simply click on a link and then set the property “nofollow”.

set nofollow link in wordpress

When you should use nofollow links

From the user’s point of view it doesn’t make any difference, but for search engines it makes a big difference what kind of link we use. So there are some scenarios where it is beneficial for your website to use nofollow links.

nofollow vs dofollow backlinks

Blog comments

If someone posts a comment on your site, make sure the links are nofollow. WordPress should do this by default. As your site gets bigger and is an authority, people will start abusing it. I already get a lot of spam comments on SiriousThoughts.com and mark them as spam. A comment should have value to the conversation and not just be a place to spam your link. Many “gurus” teach this method, stay away from it.

Sites you do not want to be associated with

Let’s say you write an article and link to a website you don’t know that well. You don’t know if it is trustworthy…. use a nofollow link. Another scenario would be: you link to a website that is not really related to your niche, use a nofollow link. Use nofollow links if you don’t want to pass authority or don’t know much about the site. That’s like telling someone, “Hey, this restaurant is great, the food there is great,” but you’ve only been there once and had pizza. Instead of saying, “I went to this new restaurant and had a pizza, it was great…. I’m thinking of going there again”.

Paid links

Okay, let’s face it. When you pay for a link, you want it to be dofollow because you want to get some of the link juice, but Google says paid links should be marked as “nofollow”. This means that if someone pays you to put a link on your website, you should mark it as “nofollow”.

Link building is a whole separate chapter of search engine optimization, and let’s face it, many of us use paid links. There are other strategies for building authority and links, of course, and the best is to create content that you can share and reach out and collaborate.

Are nofollow links good for SEO?

Links are ultimately links. Even if it is a nofollow link, people will click on it and get to your website. Also, this is something that is analyzed when creating a link building strategy: what is the ratio of follow to nofollow links.

Can nofollow links hurt you?

No, nofollow links don’t hurt at all, unless you’re spamming big time! Don’t do that, no one likes spam and it doesn’t help anyone. Stay away from it and you’re fine.

Are Facebook links nofollow?

Yeah, Facebook doesn’t give you free link juice. All links are nofollow. Still, for SEO purposes, it’s good to be present and engaged on social media. A healthy website also has social media profiles where it is active. So don’t neglect them just because the links are nofollow.

How to recognize what kind of link it is

If you are on a particular website and want to find out what kind of link was used, you can simply right-click on the link and click “investigate”. A new tab should then open with the HTML code:

how to find out what kind of link it is

As you can see, there is no rel=”nofollow” tag, which means that it is a dofollow link.

Conclusion

Follow vs Nofollow Links: Do you know the difference now?

Follow

Nofollow

This should also clear up the “Can links hurt your website?” dilemma a bit. Generally, only if it is spam in large quantities. If they are nofollow links, this has even less impact.

Make sure you use the “nofollow” tag in the future when appropriate.