follow vs nofollow

Follow vs NoFollow Links

Technical Follow vs NoFollow Links

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Most websites contain links to other websites. They also have websites linking to them. Yet, there are 2 types of links, Follow and NoFollow.


Follow Links 

When a website gets linked to, from another website, via a Follow hyperlink, there is a small SEO boost. By receiving this link, Google recognises that the website is providing some kind of useful information. In turn, the more links you have, the more Google sees your website as a good source. This could result in improved rankings.

Google aims to provide the best, most relevant results in the SERPs. A good number of Follow links will show to Google that a website is authoritative. Websites that have a high authority score, have built links over time from various, relevant sources. This is how websites improve their visibility. That’s why getting a link from BBC News or the Guardian is considered gold dust. 


NoFollow Links

Visually, NoFollow links are no different to Follow links. They still appear as a hyperlink within the text. However, they will nothing for a website’s SEO score. The ‘NoFollow’ attribute basically says ‘this website does not endorse this link’. So Google will not crawl these links, and they will have no impact on the website’s rankings or position in the SERPs. Some believe they have no value at all.


The History of Links and the Spam Era

As explained, Google uses links to determine how authoritative a website is. But, previously PageRank was determined by any link. There was no Follow/ NoFollow. Every link was seen as valuable. 

But when everyone in SEO realised this, link building became an instantaneous way of improving rankings. Link building was everything, and so that’s what everyone did. But not in the way we know today. SEO ‘experts’ were filling the comments sections of blogs with numerous spammy links. These were signaling to Google that the website was a good source of information, and so rankings improved. It was a way of instantly improving your rankings in the SERPs before the NoFollow attribute.

But in 2005, this ended. The NoFollow attribute was introduced and spamming links was no longer a way of improving rankings.


But do they actually have any value?

Google introduced the NoFollow attribute to stop SEOs from artificially improving rankings. The idea is that NoFollow links carry no value, have no benefit, and aren’t crawled by Google anyway. So should we bother with them?

Google stated ‘… in general, we don’t follow them…’. Now some have argued that this statement and its wording is vague, and leaves room for doubt. In some cases, Google could actually be taking into account some NoFollow links. Maybe from those websites that have a higher authority score? We simply do not know.


Should I bother with NoFollow links?

Absolutely! Although they don’t provide an SEO boost. NoFollow links still provide a referral link and an opportunity for more traffic to your website. Google may not improve your website’s rankings or position in the SERPs. But they will take into account the traffic coming to your website from various sources. Including social media, like Facebook and Twitter, as these are too NoFollow links. 

There has always been conversation around the topic of Follow and NoFollow links. Specifically, whether it’s worth bothering with NoFollow links.

But, link building shouldn’t just be for SEO purposes (although it’s important). The idea of link building is to provide your users with a great experience. Allowing them to explore topics, find answers, and gather information.

A great tip when link building is to ask yourself ‘will this link improve my brand?’ Think about the overall impact. Focus on links that will enhance your brand authority, brand awareness and establish your brand within the industry. Links are all about building trust.


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