When linking to another site as a valuable resource for your readers, it is good digital citizenship to approve of this trusted site by using a DoFollow link. The most common way of creating a dofollow backlink is by writing a guest post on a site which uses dofollow links within its content. A profile with dofollow-only backlinks would cause search engines suspicion, as all links would appear to have been paid and agreed upon rather than earned from the quality of the content itself.

According to Matt Cutts, the former Google Webspam Team Head, we should use a rel=dofollow on in-page links, since this allows for a flow of page rankings into other web pages, improving overall site rankings. Now, we can determine the following links: following links are links which are considered to score points, which promote SEO link juice and increase page ranking for linked sites, helping them rank better in the SERPs accordingly. The nofollow attribute was introduced by Google, Yahoo, and MSN back in 2005, in an effort to combat comment spam, giving webmasters an opportunity to devalue specific links.

Every time you place a dofollow link on your website, it may be pointed back to you, strengthening your authority by showing search engines which other sites, blogs, and posts are linking back to you. Ideally, every dofollow link points search engines to content that is relevant, up-to-date, and accurate, in turn providing link juice to both the outside site and your own. Often called link juice by internet marketing professionals due to dofollow links capacity for flowing through websites in right link structure, getting those points is a priority for every website owner. Many quality sites employ Dofollow links when paid for links from other websites, but they default to Nofollow links for unsponsored links, so that they are not giving their link juice away for free.

You want to have some portion of your sites link profile consisting of Nofollow links, so that you get links from high-quality sites, and signal to search crawlers that your site is legit, rather than sprinkling in Dofollow links. You should care about getting backlinks from high-quality sources, and monitor periodically whether any spammy websites are linking back to you. Dofollow backlinks and nofollow backlinks are the two ways to recognize the link and let Google know how to connect the site that is linking back to your site. As you have discovered, the main definition for what is a dofollow backlink is links from other websites passing page rank values back to your website for SEO purposes.

Ideally, you will want to have a mixture of nofollow and dofollow links on your pages, so search engines will not see your content just as a means of passing around PageRank points. If your site is linked from another site, and they choose not to add the nofollow tag, search engines will come naturally to your page and boost your overall PageRank.

As we discussed before, a naturally occurring, nofollow link type is used by Google for measuring PageRank. If there are several links that are all pointing to the same web page, the first link is considered by the Google robots, while the others are ignored. Google assesses the links coming in on each site, to determine whether links look natural – meaning, an ordinary link profile, with links coming in from related websites, including both followed and nofollow links, and a number of links which seem normal. If there are two links on the web page pointing to same pages on other websites, and of those 2, 1 is nofollow, while the second is dofollow, Googles robots will take the 1st link into account, while the second is nofollow, and in this scenario, dofollow links are ignored by the Google robots, and there is no link juice passed.

There is no need to worry as even though links pointed at 3rd-party websites are nofollow, it is still visible for the people visiting the page — hence it is source of traffic for your website. Nofollowed in-site links could hurt the visibility of your website on the search engines, particularly if these are links to important pages, and you want to see them ranking in SERPs. Since links are considered to be nofollowed by default, and they affect SEO, you might want to link to competitors without affecting their rankings, for instance.

While you will not receive the full SEO benefits of a dofollow link, a nofollow link may bring traffic to your site, while also diversifying your backlink portfolio. Links from poor-quality sites can affect the domains authority, which is why Google offers the nofollow link attribute as a way for site owners to guard against unscrupulous link builders who use forums and comments to build links to their sites. A nofollow link allows webmasters to stop search engines such as Google from taking them into account when they scan the page.

Some site owners will use rel=dofollow to specify that Google should follow a link, and this is not incorrect, but having no link rel attribute (as in Example #2 above) would accomplish the same. Adding the rel nofollow attribute to a link can prevent Google from following the link while scanning a site, and Google will not consider the link a vote for the page to which it links. In the same spirit of using link follows when the website is considered useful for readers, you should use this same attribute every time you link to a site that has accurate, legitimate information. If the link does not send PageRank (aka link authority) your way, then it is not going to help your ranking on Google.

Useful links to academic papers and government websites should always be donefollow, as you want to associate yourself with those trusted experts. In addition to defining dofollow backlinks, we will also discuss how important dofollow links are for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to build dofollow backlinks for your site, as well as where to find good sources for them online. You can use a quick filter to only display backlinks that are either nofollow or dofollow, and there is a label of either NF or DF on each of the rows with the backlinks, which indicates what attributes of the links are.

Photo of author

About the author

Bjorn Solstad

SEO Expert / Working chairman of the board of Devenia.

Leave a Reply