There are technical nuances to link design that are invisible to users, but extremely important from a search engine point of view. By default, links carry link weight and work so that search engines can click on them – but everything changes if nofollow is specified in the link code. What is the role of nofollow and when should it be used?
What is a dofollow link?
A link that may be called a dofollow link is actually an ordinary link. Dofollow is only used to emphasize that the link does not use a nofollow value, i.e. there are no additional SEO conditions. Such a normal link conveys link weight and signals the authority of the page.
How do backlinks help with ranking?
When talking about passing link weight and its impact on search rankings, people usually have in mind backlinks received to their site from external resources. Among the many ranking factors (e.g. Google has over 200), quality backlinks are the most important (along with content).
Of course, not only the quantity is important: when evaluating backlinks, search engines pay attention to a number of parameters:
- Naturalness of link building. Search engines recommend “earning” backlinks through valuable content, rather than buying them. Participation in link building schemes (exchange between sites, large-scale purchase of links) can lead to penalties from search engines.
- Authority referring resource. The stronger search engines and users trust the site, the more weight it gives to the page to which it refers. And vice versa: links from doubtful and spammy resources can have negative consequences.
- The number of referring domains. You can regularly receive backlinks from certain domains, but the more different domains refer to the site pages, the better for their ranking.
- Relevance. The link should be organically integrated into the context and anchor text should clearly describe the link.
- The place of the link. The most useful links – placed in the text of the page, especially within the first 200 words. If links are hidden from users, it can lead to penalties from search engines.
- Relevance and novelty. “Fresh” backlinks mean more than older ones.
What is a nofollow link?
Sometimes sites don’t want to maintain the pages they link to – and use nofollow. Previously, this value told search bots not to follow the link, but now it works as a cue – meaning bots can still follow the link, but this way they know that the referring site is not signaling the authority of the cited source. In addition, there are new rel attribute values created to indicate sponsored links and links left by users.
Are nofollow links useful?
Sites tend to get as many dofollow-backlinks as possible, because that’s how they get more link weight. But nofollow backlinks are useful too, because they help increase traffic, brand awareness and position, as well as expand future link building opportunities.
The benefits of nofollow links besides increasing positions
How else backlinks with a nofollow value help in optimization:
- They increase traffic and visibility. Links placed on popular resources are more likely to bring clicks to the page. If users understand by context that the material in the link will be of interest to them, they will click and possibly visit other pages on the site.
- They help build a natural link profile. A link profile consisting solely of dofollow links looks suspicious to search engines – it may appear that all of these links are left by arrangement rather than naturally derived from useful content.
- They expand the possibilities of getting dofollow-backlinks. The more links lead to your site in general (not counting spammy resources that are harmful) – the more authoritative the site looks in the eyes of users, SEO specialists and webmasters of external resources. By building up your link profile with nofollow-links in particular, you increase your chances of getting dofollow-links as well.