What’s the Difference Between DoFollow and NoFollow Links?

SEO / 05 Jul 2022

What’s the Difference Between DoFollow and NoFollow Links. SEO services, SEO copywriting services, SEO content writing, copywriting services, copywriting agency

The face of SEO has changed radically over time. But, it’s a well-known fact in the SEO game that backlinking can be a valuable tool for gaining traction in search rankings. Unfortunately though, this knowledge has led to marketers trying to cheat the system by linking for the sake of linking. 

DoFollow and NoFollow links are just two ways that Google fights backlink spam. Both link types are powerful tools for sharpening the value of your content: they let you signpost the important links for Google’s algorithm, and tell the algorithm to ignore the links that would hurt your SEO. 

The first step in giving Google exactly what it’s looking for is knowing the difference between DoFollow and NoFollow links.

Professional SEO services will ensure you’ve got a perfectly balanced DoFollow:NoFollow link ratio. For anyone opting for a DIY-marketing approach, this Backlinking 101 cannot be missed.

DoFollow vs. NoFollow

The significant difference between DoFollow and NoFollow is whether Google ‘sees’ them and factors them into your PageRank (the interpreted value of your website). Google will take into account DoFollow links, but will ignore NoFollow links. The common misconception is that this renders NoFollow links useless, but that’s not the case. Instead, it means that NoFollow links work through organic user interaction, while DoFollow links serve a more specific SEO purpose. 

When are DoFollow links important?

Links inserted directly into your website copy, with no modification, will automatically be DoFollow links. This means that some of your PageRank (or, more specifically, link juice) will filter through to the page you’ve linked. Equally, if another website links to yours, you’ll benefit from some of their juice too. 

For this reason, gaining DoFollow links from websites with high PageRank scores are an effective way of improving your search engine rankings. 

How do I get DoFollow links?

The most straightforward answer to this question is: 

Create valuable content that people will want to read and share. 

SEO services will help you master this with SEO content writing and copywriting services that tap into all of Google’s pain points. But, if you’re going it alone, you’ll need to employ some other tactics too:

  • Find links to your site elsewhere online, check the link type, and ask for NoFollow backlinks to be changed to DoFollow
  • Create content that is better than that of your competitors and encourage other sites to link to you instead
  • Only include DoFollow links in your content when linking to a site with a higher PageRank
  • Try one of Ahrefs’ suggested formulae

When are NoFollow links important?

As an SEO and copywriting agency, we know that DoFollow backlinking can be a double-edged sword. The SEO value of DoFollow links sounds great on the surface, but it also leaves you vulnerable to accidental PageRank damage:

  • If you link to a website with a lower score than yours, your content will appear less valuable
  • If a website with low PageRank links to you, your score may drop
  • If you exclusively include DoFollow links on your website at a high frequency, Google views your content as unnatural and spammy

You can solve all three of these concerns with one simple principle: a balance between DoFollow and NoFollow. 

Google knows that natural, organic content will not be jam-packed with DoFollow links to high-profile websites. 

NoFollow links, on the other hand, make your content appear more natural. This is because, when creating your content, it will often be useful to link to niche content on lower-ranking websites. NoFollow links allow you to do so without passing on any of your link juice.

This principle also works in reverse: higher-ranking pages may build NoFollow links to your content if they deem it valuable. This may seem counterproductive since Google doesn’t track NoFollow links, but it becomes relevant when you consider why NoFollow links might exist. 

If Google can see that there are plenty of NoFollow links leading to your website – even if it can’t see where they’ve come from – it can jump to some obvious conclusions using the principles we’ve just discussed:

  • Your content is being shared by people who enjoy it and/or find it useful
  • Websites with higher PageRank scores value your content
  • Your backlinks have not come from spamming your own links on popular blogs

The lesson here: do not underestimate the lowly NoFollow backlink.

How do you check if a link is NoFollow?

Most website management systems (e.g. WordPress) will have a means of viewing the number of backlinks to each webpage, so you can track your DoFollow links. Tools provided by companies such as Ahrefs and Semrush are also useful. But finding NoFollow links requires a different approach.

Identifying NoFollow links on another website manually is easy. If you stumble upon a link to your website, follow these four steps to check its status:

  1. Right-click the page and select ‘View page source’
  2. Find the link within the HTML
  3. Perform a Ctrl+F search of ‘nofollow’
  4. Check whether “rel=nofollow” is included in the code for the link to your content

Finding NoFollow links on other websites is only half of the story. Inserting them into your own SEO content writing is equally important:

  1. Add the link to your page
  2. Switch to HTML view
  3. Find the link
  4. Add “rel=nofollow” before the anchor text

The resulting NoFollow link should look something like this:

<a href=”https://linkedwebsite.com” rel=”nofollow”>Link Anchor Text</a>

Whereas a DoFollow link would look like this:

<a href=”https://linkedwebsite.com”>Link Anchor Text</a>

Do Follow Google’s SEO recommendations

We can’t resist a good SEO pun. 

But on a serious note, Google continues to update its policy on backlinks regularly. The value of DoFollow links has led to a thriving market of link buying and selling – a way of monetising link juice and helping spammers climb the PageRank ladder. 

As a result, Google has introduced Sponsored and UGC (User Generated Content) links to decrease the value of monetised and unnatural links. 

These extra link attributes will not be a concern for most businesses with small websites. But, if you take sponsorship requests or have a popular blog that attracts many commenters, investing in SEO services to guide you through the ins and outs of Sponsored, UGC, NoFollow, and DoFollow links is recommended. 

Want to harness the power of backlinking? Looking to root out any links that may be doing your website harm?

We can help. 

Our experts can track down and eliminate damaging links, while our SEO copywriting services will help you improve your website’s natural value and attract high-quality links.

Book your discovery call today to get started.