What Is The Difference Between Do Follow Links And No Follow Links? Should You Care?InstaGratz
Those who are new to SEO may be wondering what no follow links vs. follow links are all about. Wonder no more because in this article we’re going to clear things up for you.
Exactly what is a Follow Link?
To fully understand what’s really going on in the debate about no follow vs. follow links we’ll need to establish a little background about backlinks in general and how they work in relation to SEO. When a website or web page gets linked to from an outside source, this is known as an inbound link. Every inbound link that a page gets brings with it a boost of SEO juice. Think of a link as a vote, and just as is the case in politics the more votes you have, the better off you are. So it goes with inbound links.
Google in all their wisdom see’s and takes note of each one of these votes, constantly monitoring and tracking how many and from what site they’re coming. The basic premise being if a bunch of pages link to one specific page the page with all inbound links must be a good page. So they’ve determined that they should give that page favor in their search results, so we are delivering the best search results to our users.
Several years ago Google introduced a measurement they called PageRank. The sole purpose of the metric was to calculate and report these link votes. In the SEO world, these votes are referred to as Link Juice. This so called link juice flows into pages and throughout the internet through hyperlinks. And to make it even more interesting the more reputable the site an inbound link comes from, the more link juice the site being linked to gets. For example inbound links from sites like the CNN and the Wall Street Journal are some of the most coveted on the internet.
Now we’re ready to define follow links. So, follow links are those links that get counted as votes, and pass page rank boosting SEO link juice to the sites and pages they’re linking to. This page rank boost helps to push the linked to page higher in Google’s search results.
Now, what is a No Follow Link?
A no follow link is a link that looks and performs very much like any link you’ve ever seen all except for one small detail that takes place out of your normal view. That difference is no follow links don’t count as a vote for the page it’s linking to. That is it does not provide an SEO boost or any link juice.
What actually makes it a no follow link is the way the HTML tag is written. Basically, it uses what is known as a rel=”nofollow” and this tag is what stops link juice from flowing through it. It basically acts as a stop sign that signals to search engines that this link does not count as a vote.
A no follow link is created with the nofollow link HTML tag, which looks like this:
<a href=”https://instagratz.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>
So at this point you may be asking: Why would there need to be this kind of separation of link types? Actually, there’s one really good reason, and that reason is SPAM.
When You Don’t Have No Follow Links You Get Spam!
As noted previously Google uses do follow links to measure PageRank. Higher ranking websites are a result of more link juice, which is a result of having more links. In a perfectly simple environment, PageRank would simply be a perfect indicator of which web pages are of the highest quality and those pages would be delivered to searchers accordingly.
Ah, but as we know the internet is everything but a perfectly simple environment. As it turns out, there are those who will work to game the system if the opportunity exists and that is exactly what happened. As the PageRank metric grew in popularity and became the standard measurement so did the pool of “experts” who were only interested in artificially boosting their own page ranking.
After it became widespread knowledge that the system could be manipulated things went downhill from there. The entire focus of the schemers became getting more, and more and more links, completely disregarding the quality of all these useless links. The whole point was to generate incoming links, no matter the source or quality.
People were spamming their links any and everywhere they could. Even to the point of lowering the quality of some of the biggest and highest quality sites on the internet.
What all this insanity led to was seeing Google step in and introduce what we now know as the nofollow link attribute.
NoFollow: The Tag the Internet Needs
The nofollow tag basically highlights the spammy and crooked thought process that is commonly associated with the entire SEO community.
The no follow tag is one of those things that nobody wants but in reality is something that is very much needed. After all, it only came into existence because clearly, something had to be done. The no follows tag is what was done. And over the course of its short existence, the truth is it has done a lot of good. It has all but eliminated the mad dash to create links that are just pure spam. Many websites have made it known that all of their outgoing links are no follow links so would be spammers don’t even bother spamming them.
Of course link spam still exists, but the no follow tag very definitely wiped out most of it.
If you’re a webmaster, you may be wondering at this point when you should use the no follow attribute and when to allow do follow links. Here’s what we suggest:
- Paid links should be no follow
- Comment links should be no follow
- Links in forums should be no follow
- Untrusted content links should be no follow
So Should I Bother With No Follow Links At All?
The short answer is yes you should.
Just because a link doesn’t provide SEO value does not mean it doesn’t have any value. It’s still a link and traffic moves around the internet through links.
There are millions of linking opportunities that you have the chance to get huge amounts of traffic from. This traffic will arrive at your website whether the link they used to get there was a do follow or no follow link.
Besides that, search engines have gotten a lot smarter over the years, and they are now considering a lot more factors other than link juice when evaluating a link. One such metric is social signals. These are links from the likes of Facebook and Twitter and they’ve become increasingly valuable even though they are no follow links. At this point your focus should be on building your brand. Build links when and where it’s good for your brand, not as a way of doing SEO. Keeping in mind that the one thing links build whether they’re do follow or no follow is trust. You should always want to build trust.
One source of no follow links you should consider actively pursuing is Wikipedia. Because they are so notoriously picky about the links they allow as references the links they do allow are very well trusted by the bigger reputable sources. It is for this reason you should want to get links from Wikipedia. You stand a good chance of having your link get picked up and used by some of the biggest most reputable websites on the internet as they use the pages you’re linked on as references on their sites. It’s a sort of trust by association effect. And besides that Wikipedia links despite being no follow can drive incredible amounts of traffic to your site for years to come.
Here’s how to know if a link is follow or no follow.
In Chrome, go to the navigation bar and click View>Developer>View Source. Alternatively, you can just right-click on a page and hit Inspect Element. For Firefox, do Right-Click>View Page Source.
From there, do an Edit>Find and search for “nofollow” in the search box. All instances of the nofollow tag will be highlighted.
If you want to keep a closer watch on no follow links, you can use either of the many browser extensions that are available for download. These extensions, when installed, will automatically highlight which links are do follow and no follow on each web page you visit.
Examples of some of the many extensions for follow & no follow links are shown below:
Getting High-Quality Follow Links
Even though we’ve talked about how no follow links still have value, and you should acquire them, you should also get some do follow links to balance things out.
The very best way to get do follow links is to simply create content that others want to share and link naturally. Another good way is through the use of a method called guest blogging.
Ultimately the goal is a good balance of no follow and do follow backlinks. Remember the perfect backlink profile is one that is natural.