Follow links vs. no follow links: the importance of linkbuilding for websites

Have you heard of follow and no follow links? If you have been blogging for a while, you have probably been building links. Every website is given a Domain Authority (DA) by Google, this is like a marker of how safe, valuable and trustworthy your site is. One of the ways that DA is calculated is via the links your website earns.

Why is linkbuilding important for domain authority?

Google assumes the greater number of high authority websites that link to your content, the better your content is. For example, earning a link from a government website or the BBC earns you more than a link from a small-time blogger.

What are follow vs. no follow links

Follow links are links that send “link juice” to your website. They are little SEO signals that will boost your page rank. PageRank is the metric that was created by Google to rank your website, and this number changes all the time, depending on, many factors including Google updates. Link juice will flow into your website, based in part on the authority of the sites that are linking to your content.

Sometimes, websites will link to your content but provide a “no follow” link. This is basically sending a message to google as saying, “do not count this link.” There are a few reasons that some websites will only afford you a no follow link. Sometimes websites will no follow sites they believe to be spammy, or sites that have competitor content. No follow links say to search engines, “this doesn’t count”.

Do no follow links have any value?

Follow links vs. no follow links: the importance of linkbuilding | nofollow

Yes, they do. No follow links still promote your content. They still give your audience more information. In some cases, they may even lead a new customer to your website. Here is a great no follow example from Moz about the website Buffer. Nicole became a Buffer customer via a no follow link, after engaging with the website’s content via Twitter.

No follow links still provide value to websites, so should not be totally discounted. In fact, having a diverse link profile will send good signals to Google, as this is more an indication of a natural link building profile, rather than spammy activity.

An example of when a website might use a no follow link

There is a great article on the WordStream blog about no follow links and the website gives a good example of when it chose to no follow a link.

Commenter Charles asks, “I have never understood the terms, follow and no follow. Whenever I create links, the system I use creates the follow or no follow designation. Is there something more I need to do?”

WordStream SEO replies, “There are links you want search engines to follow, and then those that you don’t. A good example where the WordStream blog chooses to no follow a link is when we wrote about how we gained a vanity URL from Google Plus. In the blog post, we mentioned other competitors that share the same brand name with links as examples. These are websites we do not want to endorse, but want to link to – therefore we used no follow.”

How can I check my website’s backlinks?

There are a few tools available on the web, many of which are free or quite low cost. I use SEO Review Tools which has a backlink checker but you can also use Open Link Profiler or Majestic SEO.

WordStream blog has a really good explanation of how to check a page’s links via Chrome, but this is at the page level, not the domain level, so if you have a big website, this may take a while.

First, “inspect element” of a page in your browser by using the shortcut:

(For Mac): ⌘ + Shift + C

(For Windows): Ctrl + Shift + C

When you are in the element window. Use Ctrl + F (for “find/search”) and search for “nofollow”. Wherever a nofollow tag appears, it will be highlighted.

Follow links vs. no follow links: the importance of linkbuilding | how to inspect element

You can see the “nofollow” HTML here highlighted in yellow after “inspecting element” – Shift + Ctrl + C

A final word on no follow links

There are tons of articles on the web about why having a balanced link profile is important. Doing a large amount of link building in a short amount of time sends a negative signal to search engines. Having too many links from a single source in a compressed period of time will also be a red flag. Building a good collection of follow and no follow links should be part of your content strategy moving forward.

Let me know what you think about linkbuilding in the comments below.

For advice on SEO, Content Strategy and Blogging, reach out to Alyce Vayle. Per hour reasonable rates or per-project basis. Contact me here.

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Follow links vs. no follow links: the importance of linkbuilding for websites
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Follow links vs. no follow links: the importance of linkbuilding for websites
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What is the difference between follow & no follow links for your blog or website & how do they affect the PageRank and Domain Authority of your site?
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Content Strategist
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