What are ‘Nofollow’ Links and Do They Offer any SEO Benefit?
If you’ve performed any search engine optimization (SEO) work in the past, you may have come across the term “nofollow” being used to describe backlinks. Some webmasters and marketers avoid these links altogether, assuming they offer little-to-no benefit, whereas others believe nofollow links are equally as beneficial as standard links.
So, who is right and who is wrong?
Well, I suppose that depends on how you look at seo and marketing your website. Part of having a well-rounded website is having Nofollow links; and they certainly can help bring traffic and authority to your site.
Nofollow Links Defined
Google originally created Nofollow links back in 2005 for the purpose of stopping comment spam in blogs. Consisting of a value that can be added to the HTML attribute of a link, it instructs some search engines (not all) to avoid using the link in their respective search ranking algorithms. Technical jargon aside, nofollow links don’t pass link juice – at least, that’s the underlying principle behind them.
A typical nofollow links looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.yoursite.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>
If you would like to find out what kind of backlinks your site has you may want to check out my article, “Conducting a Backlink Audit: Where Do I Start?”
Nofollow Links Create More Backlinks
Even if a link has the nofollow attribute, it may still prove beneficial in helping to boost your site’s ranking. Whenever you create a nofollow link pointing back to your website, it will encourage other users to also create links for your site, some of which may not have the nofollow attribute. So, don’t assume that nofollow links are completely worthless. While many search engines disregard them for SEO purposes, they can still lead to standard links being created.
Nofollow Links Yield More Traffic
Another reason why webmasters should create nofollow links is because it will yield more traffic. Nofollow links function in the same manner as standard links from a user’s perspective. When a user clicks on a link – whether it’s nofollow or dofollow – he or she will be taken to the linked page/site.
Nofollow Links Are Part of a Natural Backlink Portfolio
I think Len at Telepost said it best, “After creating awesome content for people that generates natural links the first thing I see in the backlink portfolio is a mixed bag of links- some are DoFollow, some are NoFollow. A natural backlink portfolio consists of BOTH. If you were designing the algorithm would you not place some sort of value on a NoFollow link?”
Which Search Engines Use Nofollow Links?
Google has said that it neither follows nor takes into account nofollow links for SEO purposes. With that said, various studies conducted by other webmasters have found that Google does in fact follow these links. Bing and Yahoo both follow nofollow links, but they don’t take it account when ranking websites.
To recap, nofollow links lack the SEO juice of standard links, but this doesn’t mean that they are worthless. On the contrary, they can attract new links while driving tons of new visitors to your website. Just remember to diversify your backlink portfolio with a mixture of both standard links and nofollow links.