If you have been focusing on building links for your website, you surely would have come across “no follow” and “do follow” links. So what’s the difference between both these links?

If you are just starting your SEO journey, these things can be a bit confusing for you. There is no set formula for increasing the Search engine rankings of your website, but there are a couple of tips and tricks you can learn to help you along this journey.

Every SEO expert has his own opinion when it comes to certain things like “no follow” links. But majority agree that “do follow” links are more important than the “no follow” ones.

In this article, you’ll learn the definition of “no follow” links. How they differ from the “do follow” links. And what is their impact on the SEO of a website?

How links work

To know how a no follow and a do follow link function, you should be familiar with the functionality of links. Normally when a web page gets a backlink from another one, it gets a small boost in search engine rankings. A backlink from another web page is a vote of confidence for your website. 

How much a boost you’ll see in your search engine rankings will depend upon the quality of those backlinks.

These links can be of two types, external and internal. An external link is a link that is on another domain, and it is pointing towards your web page. An internal link is a link that is present on the same domain it is pointing to.

Search engines like Google value these links. If a web page has a lot of external links, it tells search engines that this web page has something valuable. Web pages with more external links have better search engine rankings.

The quantity of these links is not as important as the quality. One backlink from a reputable website is better than hundreds of backlinks from spammy websites.

Reputable websites generate a lot of traffic. A backlink from such a website will help the ranking of your website. Through a backlink, link juice flows from one site to another. The more visitors a website has, the more link juice you’ll get from such a backlink.

Domain authority also increases with quality backlinks. The more domain authority your website has, the better ranked it will be in search results.

But here’s a secret for you, Link juice cannot flow through a no follow link. So, what are no follow links? And what benefits do they provide?

No follow links

No follow links are those who have a rel=”nofollow” tag in them.  A rel=”nofollow” is a very basic HTML tag. Link juice might not flow through a no follow link, but it doesn’t mean that this link is useless. Learning the correct application of no follow links is crucial for increasing search engine rankings of your website.

No follow links are a form of hyperlinks. The only difference between a do follow and a no follow link is that a no follow link has a rel=”nofollow” tag in it.

On the face of it, it is hard to distinguish a do follow link from a no follow link because both of them look similar.

Do you see the blue text in both these images? They are hyperlinks, but one of these pages has no follow links, while the other has do follow links.

Can you tell the difference?

Well, neither can I. Nobody can. Because no follow links and do follow links look the same.

All the hyperlinks you see in the second image are no follow hyperlinks because all the links in quora answers have a rel=”nofollow” tag in them.

This answer brings us to another topic. How and why no follow links came into being.

The backstory of no follow links

In the year 2005, Google introduced the no follow tag. This tag was introduced because people started mentioning the links of their websites in the comment section of blogs belonging to reputable websites. Link juice from those reputable websites started flowing to the websites mentioned in their comments. Google took a notice of this situation and introduced the no follow tag to combat this problem.

Google advised blog owners to add the rel=”nofollow” tag on the links present in their comment section.

A rel=”nofollow” tag signals the search engines that no link juice should flow to the mentioned web page.

After Google introduced this feature, other search engines like Yahoo followed suit.

Many content management systems like WordPress automatically add the rel=”nofollow” tag for all the comments.

This feature is very helpful because many users are unable to add a no follow tag manually to every single link present in their comment section.

If you are a word press user, no spammy comments can get any SEO benefits from you.

To determine if a link is no follow or not, hover your mouse pointer over that link and left-click. Select “inspect”

You’ll be easily able to see if there is a rel=”nofollow” tag in the shaded area or not

In this case, there is no rel=”nofollow” present in the shaded area. This means that this hyperlink is a do follow link.

If you find this whole process a little difficult, you can install the nofollow extension of Google chrome. This extension will automatically highlight all the no follow links.

Crawlability of links

Search engines like Google do not crawl the no follow links. If there are some links you don’t want the search engines to crawl, add a rel=”no follow” tag to them. Since Google doesn’t crawl the no follow links, PageRank cannot flow from one web page to another via these links.

Paid Links

Google has advised all its users to add a rel=”nofollow” tag to all their paid links. If PageRank flows through a paid link, Google considers it a violation of their policy.

This policy of Google helps it in rewarding the earned links and not the paid ones.

Some SEO experts believe that search engines like Google are unable to differentiate between paid and earned links.

These links look similar, so there is a chance that this statement is true. But it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid anything that can get you in trouble with Google.

How to use the no follow links to improve the search engine rankings of your website

A no follow link is unable to transfer any link juice, so you cannot get any direct benefit from a nofollow backlink.

But here is an interesting tidbit for you. According to Ahrefs’, there is a chance that search engines prefer no follow links from reputable websites over the do follow links from spammy websites.

You should add no follow links to your website because it creates diversity. If a website only has do follow links, there’s a chance that something fishy is going on with that website.

This diversity in the links of your website helps search in determining which links to crawl and which to not.

No follow links can drive traffic to your website

No follow links from websites like Quora and Reddit can drive traffic to your web pages. There is a chance that some other website will link to yours because of a no follow link.

You can mention the link of your website on Quora and Reddit along with the information you provide in answer to a relevant question. If people find your answers helpful, they’ll visit your website.

You might even get do follow links from some websites because of your answers.

Bottom Line

Link juice might not follow through the no follow links but they still play a vital role when it comes to Search engine optimization. No follow links create diversity in the links of your website. They also tell search engines which links to crawl and which to ignore.

If your website is relatively new, you should focus more on building do follow links. PageRank only travel through do follow links.

If you want to get a general idea about the links of your competitor websites, you can use SEO tools for this purpose.

If you own a blog, you should make sure that the links present in the comment section of your blogs are no follow links.

How many no follow links does your website has?


Nikita is an expert SEO Content Writer, with expertise in creating unique write-ups in DIGITAL MARKETING.

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