Do I make my links follow or no-follow? Are nofollow links worthless?
You’ve heard the jargon on link building and backlinks, all of which will lead to increases in a website’s Domain Authority. Naturally, you want to harness the power of link building to give your site credibility, which in turn has a sizable impact on increasing your site’s ranking with Google or another search engine.
Whether personally or through digital marketing consultants companies, it wouldn’t take long to hear about “follow links” and “no-follow links” if you’re delving into link building. What’s the difference, you may ask? Which one is better? Well, the summary of your answer is below, with a more in-depth explanation following.
Google prefers Follow Links, meaning Follow Links weigh substantially in adding to a site’s Domain Authority, which in turn impacts the site’s ranking Google’s search engine.
However… and this is significant, nofollow links positively impact a site’s Domain Authority As well. Nofollow links are not worthless. Google algorithm looks a little beyond how a site administrator has tagged an inbound link.
The HTML of a website shows whether a page is follow or nofollow:
Follow = <a href=”https://example.com”>Anchor Text Goes Here</a>
No follow = <a href=”https://example.com” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>
Do follow backlinks are the ones that give a site SEO benefit or increases its domain authority
The effect of backlinks from any single site diminishes after certain amount of backlink
What is an external backlink?
It helps to know exactly definition of an external backlink (distinguished from an internal backlink), to understand the difference between Follow Links and NoFollow link. An external backlink is a mention of a site in another site. The diagram below may assist:
As any mention of a website in another website is considered a backlink, the definition of an external backlink is quite broad here. This mention can be a reference to any content of a website – a webpage, blog, content etc.
When a website receives an inbound link (a hyperlink pointing to that page), that recipient site authority boosts. Think of a link as a point or score, where:
a website with more links = more points = more domain authority = increasing in ranking
Essentially, the more inbound links your site has, the more points it receives. Google takes notes of these points, counts them, and considers them when giving your site ranking. The mentality is that if the masses provide a web page with an inbound link, its content must be of high quality. Therefore it deserves preference and higher ranking higher in Google or another search engine.
However, not all sites are created equal, and not all inbound links have similar points. The more authoritative a site, the more significant boost (points) its inbound link will give to your site. For example, getting an inbound link from the New York Times or BBC is hitting the jackpot of inbound links.
Google has essentially created a positive loop for backlinks. However, not all sites can receive an inbound link from mammoth sources like the BBC or Wikipedia. It takes time, energy and luck. But maybe, and just perhaps, if your content is useful, you can get an inbound link from a site that has mammoth references at some point along the chain of links from one website to another.
You may ask, what make a website an excellent choice for a backlink? At V Digital Marketing, a website needs to check the following boxes to qualify as a quality backlink:
The website’s Domain Authority (DA) is above 25;
The website appears for many keywords relative to the client’s industry and the client’s competitors;
The website has a high number of referring domains; and
The pages are not linking out to a high number of domains. This dilutes the Domain Authority.
A no-follow link is an inbound link that does not give the recipient page any points (or at least used to). Google created the No-Fllow tag in 2005 to root out spam guest blogging on bloggers’ sites. Essentially it allowed website administrators to tag “NoFollow Link” an inbound link posted on the guest section. This disincentivized spammers abusing the guest section to receive Domain Authority points for the webpage they’d otherwise cite.
Fast forward 16 years, Google is now more friendly to No-Follow links, and it has shown that No-Follow links assist a website’s Domain Authority. Essentially, No-Follow links help, but they are not as potent and Follow Links.
You can spot the difference between follow and no-follow link using the Chrome extension “SEOquake” show below.
SEOquake augments the links on a webpage and crosses out the no-follow links as show below. Note how the link bill is crossed out. This means it’s a no follow link.
How does nofollow link apply to you (me)
If you have a website, you want:
Authoritative sources to mention your site; and
For a search engine like Google, to discount low-quality websites that are referring to your site. This ensures your site does not get penalized for having less than ideal sources referring to it.
Here I welcome you to a bit of an SEO cat and mouse play. Essentially tag inbound links to your site “No-Follow” that are low quality, uninformative and spammy. But don’t be dissuaded from guest blogging and referring your there is no harm in referencing your content on an external webpage if it’s relevant, informative and valuable. The site administrator may tag that reference as “No-Follow”, but that doesn’t stop Google from giving your site some Domain Authority. Essentially Google’s algorithm is smart enough now to figure our relevance and quality from spam, and it looks beyond what a site administrator has tagged a link.
To do examine your inbound links, you can either manually review all the backlinks to your site, or use software like SEMrush, search for the relevant site and scroll to the backlink section. The snapshot below is an example of reviewing the site Note the row below the heading Backlink showing five boxes reading: all links, Follow, Nofllow, Sponsored.