Dofollow vs nofollow links – what’s the difference?
February 8, 2022
Most people know that links are an important part of SEO. However, there are a lot of misconceptions on the topic, making both on-page and off-page SEO extra challenging.
Although it is true that links are an important part of SEO, more isn’t always better. There are different types of links, as well as different factors used by search engines to judge the quality of the pages linking to one another.
Although we can’t cover the entire topic in this post, we will cover the two main types of links: dofollow links and nofollow links.
If you’d like to work with an experienced SEO agency to improve your search engine performance, or you have any questions after reading this post, please feel free to get in touch.
Why it matters
Links are a major part of SEO, affecting crawling, ranking and usability. Understanding the difference between dofollow links and nofollow links will help you link between pages more effectively. It will also help improve your off-page SEO since the way search engines interact with these different kinds of links differs.
What is a nofollow link?
A nofollow link is a link with the nofollow attribute, stating to search engines that they should not follow the link. This means that the SEO benefits of these links are limited.
In general, nofollow links are used when the website owner doesn’t want any SEO benefits to be passed on to the page being linked to. This can be due to the link being a sponsored link, or because they don’t want to directly be associated with the page/site being linked to.
What is a dofollow link?
A do-follow link is a hyperlink that doesn’t contain the nofollow attribute, meaning that search engine crawlers follow the link. Back when Google used to publish PageRank, which was Google’s way of scoring pages based on the number and quality of backlinks it had, the PageRank of the page the backlink points to only increased if the link was a dofollow link.
Although Google doesn’t publish PageRank scores anymore, Google’s very own John Mueller has stated in the past that Google still uses PageRank.
What are UGC links and sponsored links?
Google recently added two new link attributes, namely UGC links and sponsored links. Rel="sponsored" indicates that the link is an advertisement or the link has been paid for. The nofollow attribute was used for paid links in the past and is still acceptable in the eyes of Google, although the use of the sponsored attribute is preferred for paid links.
Rel="ugc" is used for links added in User Generated Content (UGC). These could be links added by forum users or links added in the comments section of a blog post. The UGC attribute is particularly interesting since Google mentions that website owners can reward trustworthy contributors by removing this attribute, thus changing the link to a dofollow link.
Examples of sponsored links and UGC links as seen on Google Search Central
The difference between dofollow and nofollow links
Nofollow links and dofollow links look the same to website visitors, however, they are treated very differently by search engines. Nofollow links don’t have the same SEO benefits that dofollow links have.
However, nofollow links still play an important role in SEO. A natural link profile should have a mix of both nofollow and dofollow links, and having too many dofollow links may be seen as suspicious in the eyes of Google.
Also, nofollow links can help to drive traffic to your website, helping to improve user signals on your website and improving your site’s overall performance.
Dofollow links provide many of the same benefits as nofollow links, but they also offer direct SEO benefits by improving your page’s PageRank.
How links impact SEO
Links have a major impact on your website’s search engine performance, as well as your overall marketing efforts. There are a vast number of ways in which links impact SEO, some of which include:
- Improving PageRank
- Improving a page’s usability
- Driving traffic a page
- Improving crawlability
- Improving user signals
Both dofollow and nofollow links are important in SEO, offering a range of different benefits. Now that you know what dofollow links and nofollow links are and how they impact your website’s search engine performance, you’re in a better position to work on your SEO.
SEO is a complex topic that can go horribly wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re too aggressive then you could find yourself on the receiving end of a Google penalty. On the other hand, building your earned media presence in the form of high-quality guest posts and other off-site content can lead to amazing results, both from an SEO perspective and a general marketing perspective.
Here at Racer Marketing, we have extensive experience in off-page SEO, ensuring our clients get the best possible results online. If you’re interested in working with an SEO agency to improve your off-page SEO, please get in touch.