You may have heard the terms "no follow" and "do follow" in reference to hyperlinks on websites and blogs, and you may have even asked yourself what it has to do with you. Well, if you're a blogger or a webmaster, the answer is simple. It has a lot to do with you.
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Before understanding how these "no follow" and "do follow" links affect your Google PageRank, you need to first understand what they are and their purpose.
What are do follow links?
A do-follow link is a link that Google "follows" or counts towards your PageRank. The more do-follow links to your website from other reputable websites, the higher your PageRank. A higher PageRank means you'll appear higher in Google's SERPs (search engine results pages). Google assumes that if reputable, high-quality websites are linking to you, your website must be relevant to the results, and therefore gives your page preference in the results.
Basically, whenever someone links to your page on their website, you receive a boost in terms of SEO.
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With that said, do-follow links are good. They are ideal for boosting SEO and creating a successful website or blog.
So, what are no follow links?
No-follow links, on the other hand, are the exact opposite of do-follow links. They do not count towards your PageRank. Google web crawlers do not acknowledge them and do not consider them to be true backlinks.
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So, what is the purpose of no-follow links?
Well, before the days that the nofollow link attribute was introduced, spammers all over the web would use unethical methods to boost their SEO and Google PageRank by posting unnecessary, useless comments on blogs, websites, and discussion boards for the sole purpose of getting links back to their website. Google solved this problem in 2005 by creating the nofollow link attribute, which you can see below as an HTML tag:
<a href=http://www.yourwebsite.com/ rel="nofollow">Your Website</a>
The nofollow attribute has helped curb spamming quite a bit, but that's not to say it doesn't still exist, because it does, plain and simple. However, spammers are less likely to comment on a blog, website, or discussion board if they know that the link they're posting won't do any good to boost their ranking.
So, are nofollow links entirely useless?
Contrary to popular belief, no, they are not entirely useless. Just because no-follow links provide no SEO value does not mean that you should shut them out altogether. No-follow links can provide referral traffic, which is just as important when building a reputable brand. Google may not follow the links, but real humans will.
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Should you use dofollow or nofollow links?There aren't really any set standards on when to use the do-follow links, but there are guidelines you should follow per Google regarding the nofollow attribute.
For example, the nofollow attribute should be added to links in the following situations:
- If you're being compensated for a post, whether in the form of money, gift cards, or free products to review (it is not fair to "buy" links, and that's essentially what's happening here if you're using do-follow links)
- Blog comments - Avoid allowing dofollow links in your comments section, as you could be bombarded with spam (some website owners do allow do-follow links, but these comments are typically heavily monitored to prevent spam)
- Untrusted content - If you don't know firsthand that the link you're posting is trustworthy, then your best bet is to use the nofollow link to avoid any association with your blog
The bottom line is this: If your blog or website only has dofollow links, it will raise eyebrows over at Google, and you could be penalized for unnatural link practices. Google will then push your website into oblivion (with oblivion meaning away from the front page of search results) and could even ban you from their search results all together. And no one wants that.
Do follow links are great for PageRank, and at the same time, no follow links are great for traffic. The best course of action to take when trying to establish your blog as reputable is to focus on trust and balance. Don't use shady link-building and SEO-boosting practices. Don't rely on "dofollow" links to build your brand. Balance it out. Have both no-follow and do-follow links to your website. Guest post, provide valuable content to forums, get involved in blog discussions, etc.
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Focus on building your brand, not boosting your PageRank. If your brand is as great as you hope it will be, the rest will fall into place.