Nofollow Links: Do They Add Value In SEO?

Do you think about ‘no-follow’ links when link building? This post will shed some light on why we should still consider Nofollow links in SEO.

Nofollow Links

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When we talk about SEO, backlinks are still one of the most important variables in this discipline.

We typically talk about getting more of them and adding high power backlinks to drive rankings. This is especially true if we want to compete for top ranks in a competitive niche filled with many authoritative websites.

If you’re sourcing link builders, one thing you rarely hear is mention of building NoFollow Links.

Why is that?

Well, the reason is that backlinks are one of the key ranking factors for search engines. If you want to get great SEO results and rank higher in search, then you need link building to boost your web page signals, and generally speaking Nofollow links really don’t do this.

There are two types of backlinks: dofollow links and nofollow links.


Between these two types, to build our website authority to compete with other websites in search rankings, dofollow links are much more valuable than nofollow links. This is because, as their names suggest, dofollow links are the ones followed and counted by search engines while nofollow links aren’t.


So, should we only get dofollow links for our websites and ignore nofollow links completely?

The simple answer is no. Although they don’t seem to have much use in pushing our website to the top of the search engine rankings, nofollow links can still help our SEO effort in their own way.


This post is going to take a look at why No-Follow Links shouldn’t be neglected. First of all, let’s take a look further at the definition of nofollow links.


What are Nofollow Links?

Nofollow links are links with the rel “nofollow” attribute in its a tag. In raw code writing, a nofollow link is written like this.


<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Google</a>


The nofollow attribute was first introduced by Google in 2005 so webmasters can instruct search engines not to count a link as their ranking factor. It is usually used for paid links or links whose content isn’t endorsed by webmasters.


In 2019, Google introduced two other rel attributes that have the same power as nofollow links (make search engines don’t count them in their rankings determination). These rel attributes are:

  • “sponsored”: a rel attribute for links that involve monetary compensation for the webmasters
  • “ugc”: a rel attribute for links that are created by the users of a website


Nofollow links with the three rel attributes have a particular use for search engines only. To the website visitors, nofollow links aren’t different if we compare them to normal links (the dofollow ones).


Nofollow Links vs Dofollow Links

As mentioned before, the main difference between nofollow links and dofollow links is in the way search engines see them.


Search engines don’t count nofollow links as votes of confidence for a website while they do count the dofollow ones. Therefore, if you want to build the authority of a website in SEO, the direct way to do it is by getting as many quality dofollow links as possible.


Furthermore, in its code writing, a dofollow link doesn’t have any “nofollow”, “sponsored”, or “ugc” rel attribute in its a tag. In the earlier nofollow link example, the dofollow version of it is commonly written like this.


<a href=””>Google</a>


This means if webmasters don’t specifically alter a link that they give to a website (adding one of the nofollow rel attributes), the default stance of the link should be dofollow.


If you need to identify whether a link is a nofollow link or a dofollow link, you can do it easily in your browser. If you use Google Chrome as your browser, for example, you just need to right-click on the link you want to identify and click “Inspect”.

inspect nofollow link

A panel that shows the coding that creates the website page should show up on your Google Chrome browser. There, the a tag of the link should be highlighted. You can see from there whether the link is a nofollow link or a dofollow link.

dofollow link

If the a tag of the link contains a “nofollow”, “sponsored”, or “ugc” rel attribute, it is a nofollow link. Otherwise, it is a dofollow link.


Why Nofollow Links Can Still Matter for Your SEO?

If search engines themselves seem to ignore nofollow links as their ranking factor, shouldn’t we ignore them too when we try to implement SEO on our website? Isn’t it better if we only care about dofollow links if our objective is to get to the top rankings of the search engine result pages?


Although that is true to a degree and our main focus should be to get dofollow links in SEO, we shouldn’t just ignore the opportunities to acquire quality nofollow links if we get ones. Want to know why? Here are some reasons why they can help us improve our SEO results too.


Source of referral traffic

A nofollow link from a good website with a high volume of traffic can be just what we need to improve the overall traffic of our website. Many people who visit that good website might be interested to click on our website link. Because of this, we can have another source of significant traffic other than search engines.


This traffic improvement can also bring a positive impact to our SEO. If people think that our content is excellent, they might share the content and that can improve the recognition of our website brand. 


More people may search for terms related to our brand as a result. Moreover, if the content goes viral, then that should attract much more visitors who come from the search engines and social media platforms.


Source of potential dofollow links

If the people who come from the nofollow links are webmasters, they might be interested to share our content on their website if it seems interesting to them. The link they give when they share our content should be dofollow links as it comes naturally and the webmasters do appreciate the quality of our content. This makes nofollow links become a potential source for additional dofollow links for our website.


As we know, dofollow links seem to be the ones that search engines count to measure the authority of a website and its content. Thus, nofollow links can indirectly affect our chance to rank high in the search engine result pages too.


Moreover, the dofollow links should come without us having to put effort into them as long as the page which has the nofollow links to us still attracts visitors. This should make it easier for us to improve our SEO results over time.


Improved CTR of our website

As more people come to our website through nofollow links, more people should appreciate the content on our website as well if it has high quality. As such, when they find our website link through search engines, they should be more willing to click on it. This means the CTR of our website in search engine result pages can improve too.


A high CTR should make you get more organic traffic from search engines. Moreover, the high CTR of your website link might become an indication to the search engines that the content of your website is preferred by the searchers. Thus, it may have a positive effect on your rankings as well.


Improved content quality

The traffic that comes from nofollow links makes you get more data related to the content of your website. You should understand better whether people spend much time enjoying your content or whether they continue to explore your other website pages or your offerings after they finish reading your content, for example. Because of that, you should get more feedback to improve your content quality because of the visitors you get from the nofollow links.


Processed and evaluated correctly, the data you get should make your content more interesting and enjoyable to the searchers from the search engines. As Rankbrain, which sends signals of user experience to Google, is an important ranking factor too, the improved quality of your content should make it rank better in the search engines.


The possibility that nofollow links are also being counted by search engines

The official stance from Google is they don’t count nofollow links as a factor to determine their rankings.

However, the realization of that has been argued by some SEO practitioners. They say that nofollow links might actually be counted by search engines and the official stance is just there to discourage people from abusing those links.


There is proof for this argument from the research and case studies done by several curious SEO practitioners (such as this one compiled in Semrush). Whether you choose to believe it or not is up to you. However, you should know that there is a possibility that nofollow links do affect your website search rankings directly. It will be better that you don’t ignore them completely when you want to get links to improve your SEO results immediately.


Moreover, search engines might also count nofollow links in a way that a website that only has dofollow links will raise a red flag because it seems like an unnatural backlink profile. It might be wise to consider that as well when you do the link building process for your website.


Now that we know nofollow links can be useful for our website and its SEO results, we might want to consider acquiring them as well for the improvement of our backlink profile. However, to get optimum benefits from nofollow links, we should try to get quality nofollow links only for our website.


What constitutes a quality nofollow link? Here are some criteria you might want to use based on the benefits we can get from a nofollow link.

  • The nofollow link should come from a well-maintained website
  • The nofollow link should come from a website page that gets much consistent traffic
  • The nofollow link should come from a website in the same niche as us
  • The nofollow link should be relevant to the context of where it is placed in content
  • The nofollow link should be as close as possible to the top part of the content


Getting a nofollow link with those criteria in place should help the SEO results and general growth of your website.


Tips to Get Useful Nofollow Links for Your Website

Quality nofollow links can be something that we need to improve our SEO results. But how can we get them for our website? Here are three tips you might want to implement for that.


Give an interesting and thoughtful comment on relevant content with high traffic

Links on comments given for online articles are usually turned into nofollow links automatically. The reason is that many people spam comments in the past with the sole purpose of getting links to their websites to improve their search rankings.


Although they are nofollow links, comment links can still be great for our website if they can attract many people to visit our website. The way to get those kinds of comment links is by giving excellent comments on quality content in the same niche as our website.


If you want to give an excellent comment, then, surely, you should read the content you want to comment on first before commenting. After all, your comment should be in line with what the content tells you. Compliment the content sincerely, give your opinion, and add constructive feedback or question to make your comment more interesting.


Besides the additional traffic, if you give excellent comments continuously to an authoritative blog, the blog owner may notice what you do. That might lead to opportunities for getting dofollow links from the blog or some kind of mutual partnership.


Participate actively in relevant popular forums

A forum is usually a place where people discuss all the things related to a particular topic. If there is a popular online forum where many people have discussions related to your website niche, you should join and actively participate in it. It might become the place where you can tell other people about your website and its contents.


However, you shouldn’t over-promote your website or hard sell it in the forum. Add the links to your website only when it is highly relevant to the discussion or if you can post an excellent thread related to your website content there. Don’t only participate in the forum discussions when you can promote your website.


If you can become a useful and highly active member of the forum, its members should also appreciate what you talk about. That can only benefit your website and its SEO.


Advertise your website on authoritative websites in the same niche

There are probably some much more popular websites in your niche at the moment. As they are in the same niche as you, their visitors can most probably be interested in what you say or offer on your website. Thus, if it seems plausible and you have the right budget, you can contact the webmasters and ask them to promote your website in theirs.


The advertisement can be in the form of banners or slipping your links in their popular content. Although the links in the advertisement are (should be) nofollow links, they should help you to significantly get more visitors and improve your website brand awareness as well.


For this to work, you need to make sure that the websites you want to partner with are really authoritative and have a lot of consistent visitors. To do that, you can inspect the website first by navigating it and using your favorite SEO tools such as Ahref, Semrush, Similarweb, etc to be sure of the website credentials before you decide to approach its webmaster.


Final Words

Nofollow links might not be counted as a ranking factor by search engines. Nevertheless, they still have their use in our SEO effort. It is just a matter of acquiring the right nofollow links at quality websites and making sure that we don’t ignore them completely when we do our link building process.


Excellent nofollow links can still send significant traffic and make people trust our website more. Utilize the opportunities to get them well so they can help improve your SEO results too on the top of the dofollow links that you have.