If you are doing SEO, then it is very crucial to understand one of the very simple HTML tags around that is rel=”nofollow”. No-follow links have been around for 14 years now and still very few people know their complete usage and applications. If you care about your website’s performance, then it is not only important but extremely crucial to know when to use and when not to use the no-follow links.
What are No-Follow Links?
No-follow links are nothing but hyperlinks with a rel=”nofollow” tag. These links however do not have any influence on the search engine rankings of the destination URL because Google does not crawl no-follow links and also does not transfer Page rank or Anchor texts across them.
No-Follow & Follow links look extremely identical to an average web browser. But the difference becomes visible when you dig in the HTML code.
Example of No-Follow link:
What are Follow Links?
Follow links or Do-follow links are hyperlinks that allow Google or all the search engines to follow them and reach your website or the destination URL. That’s what we call getting a backlink. And if any webmaster is linking back to you then both search engines and humans will be able to follow you.
The easiest way to give someone do-follow is enabling keyword in the anchor text. In other words, when you link to a website or any page, simply use the targeted keyword as anchor text.
Example of Do-Follow link:
Hyperlinks by default are do-follow links so you don’t have to do anything to generate a do-follow link.
Do No-Follow links help in SEO?
If we recall how Google handles this no-follow links, that is it does not transfer Page Rank or anchor texts across these links. Then one would say that from SEO perspective these links won’t be really impactful and that is somewhat true. These links don’t have a direct impact on your SEO. But these links do have an indirect impact on your SEO.
- No-Follow links diversify your link profile
The profiles with natural backlinks are diverse. Some of the links are followed while some are no-follow. This is an undeniable fact that many people will link to you via no-follow links no matter how much you wish that this wasn’t the case.
In fact the backlinks that you get from Social networks like Facebook, Twitter are no-follow links. So if a website has a large number of followed links as compared to nofollow links then that is a red flag and something’s fishy.
- Helps in driving traffic & hence followed links
Along with being useful in SEO purposes, these links also drive a lot of referral traffic. Being active on Q & A sites like Quora, Yahoo answers helps. Again, it does not boost your SEO game but it does bring a significant improvement in them and thus boosts up the chances of followed links.
As it is rightfully quoted that nofollow links are often catalyst for followed links.
- No-Follow links can protect against Google penal actions
Many a times there are obvious and legitimate reasons to pay for links. Suppose your website gets a ton of traffic then buying a sponsored post on that site makes sense. Naturally if you are paying a handsome amount then you would want to include a backlink so that users can easily find your website. Then what is the problem? Well, the problem is that Google states that paid followed links are against the Webmaster Guidelines.
With that being said, the SEO community is divided into two parts: one that believe Google accurately identifies paid links and other who believe that Google doesn’t identify paid links. But that’s a discussion for some other day.
But suppose the later camp is correct that means Google cannot identify paid links but the catch here is that Google already has a tool which enables anyone to report any website for buying or selling of links.
So using no-follow links will avoid all of it keeping your website safe from Google penalties.