The Absolute Guide On NoFollow And DoFollow Links

March 13, 2024 | Link Building

NoFollow and DoFollow links: Two of the most common terms that digital marketers and SEO experts use in their day-to-day lives.

But what exactly do these terms mean? What is the difference between DoFollow and NoFollow links?

Are NoFollow links equivalent to toxic links? Are they good for your website?

We know that the above-mentioned questions are just a fraction of what any person who is new to the field of digital marketing and SEO might think of.

And we are here to clear all these doubts today. In this article, we will discuss all the norms related to NoFollow and DoFollow backlinks, where to use them, their differences and their impact on SEO.

Let’s go!

What Is A NoFollow Link?

rel=nofollow tag

The first question that arises in a person’s mind after hearing ”NoFollow link” is what exactly does it mean?

Is a NoFollow link bad for business? Are they toxic links?

Well, the answer to the above questions is a big NO!

No, NoFollow links are neither toxic nor are they bad for your business. Basically, a NoFollow backlink is a rel nofollow attribute or a tag, which is written as follows:

rel= “nofollow”

What does the tag do? It indicates that the search engine crawlers do not pass the link juice to the mentioned website.

A rel nofollow tag is for those websites to which you want to link in your website content but don’t want the search engines to pass authority to that webpage.

Google introduced this attribute back in 2005, along with several other updates that are available in the Google updates timeline, for the sole reason of restricting comment spamming on web pages.

Yes, several hackers and spammers used to comment spammy links in the comment section of a blog, which ultimately led to passing on of page authority to the link, even if the link was nowhere relevant to the blog.

With the help of the rel nofollow tag, webmasters can restrict search engine crawlers from passing on page authority to such links. 

However, it’s not just spammy links that you can add the tag to. That’s what we are going to discuss in the upcoming sections.

What is a DoFollow Link?

rel=dofollow tag

Now that you know what a NoFollow link is, it’s time to understand the other side of the coin: DoFollow link.

While rel nofollow tags do not allow any page authority to the linked webpage, rel follow or dofollow tags help the linked webpage in getting proper page authority from search engine crawlers.

However, there’s no “rel follow” attribute as compared to that of NoFollow backlinks. If you want to pass on the link juice to a website, you can simply link it without the rel nofollow tag.

Yes, that’s it.

Where To Use NoFollow Tags?

NoFollow tags are mostly used for websites to whom you don’t want to pass on any link juice or give an endorsement.

For example:

Let’s say you are creating content on the side effects of vaping and have to mention some sites that are selling vapers but don’t want to pass on authority to them,

So, what do you do? Simply add the rel nofollow attribute while linking to them.

Now, apart from the rel nofollow attribute, there are other tags that almost serve the same purpose.

What are those?

Sponsored Links

sponsored link from website B to website A

Sponsored links are those links that have been bought or purchased by a website. As Google is strictly against buying links, and it can even penalize your website, it is better to use the specified version of the rel nofollow attribute over here, which is:

rel= “sponsored”

The above tag clearly states that the links are purchased, and you do not want to give any endorsement to these links. 

It is better to remain clear than to get penalized for buying links. So, remember to use the above tag properly.

User Generated Content

User generated content with social media logos in the background

Most of the time, viewers mention certain website links in comments that might or might not be relevant to the content. In such scenarios, the webmasters can decide not to pass on the link juice by using the UGC or user-generated content tag, which is as follows:

rel= “ugc”

It will restrict the crawlers from crawling or passing authority to those sites.

Affiliate Links

Code example of affiliate link with terms

In the case of affiliate programs, one must always use the sponsored tag to avoid getting any penalties from search engines. 

Though affiliate programs are good, and you can monetize your website through them, just remember to clarify that to Google by using the sponsored tag.

Where Not To Use NoFollow Tags?

Now that you know the best practices of SEO NoFollow tags, it is time to know the areas where you should prevent using the NoFollow tags.

Internal Links

Example model of internal links in a website

A rel nofollow tag for linking to internal web pages will only harm your website’s rankings. If you do not want Google to rank or index a web page of your website, you can use a meta robots tag, which would save your crawling limit and prevent the page from getting indexed as well.

All External Links

External links from website A to website B and website C

We understand that you might not want to provide page authority to external websites, but using the rel nofollow tag for all external links might bring more harm to your website. 

It is better to maintain the balance between NoFollow and DoFollow while providing backlinks to external websites.

How to Check the Presence of DoFollow and NoFollow Links?

Now that you know the meaning of both NoFollow and DoFollow backlinks, along with the best practices for the former, it is time to know how to check the presence of both DoFollow and NoFollow backlinks on your website.

See, there are manual methods as well through which you can detect the presence of both DoFollow and NoFollow tags, like through HTML code, using an extension, etc. 

But those methods can be time-consuming, and honestly, there are chances of misinterpreting or missing out on a link or two.

To avoid such mistakes and save time, we highly recommend you use a proper backlink analysis tool that can uncover the nature of all the referring links in your link profile.

The RankWatch backlink checker tool is a prominent tool for analyzing link profiles, and that too for FREE!

Yes, our backlink analyzer can help you discover the types of links present in your link profile for free, along with several other metrics.

The Backlink Audit section has several sections, each designed for specific purposes.

RankWatch Backlink Overview dashboard

While the overview section gives a complete list of your link profile, the Referring Backlinks section is where you will find the NoFollow vs. DoFollow section.

RankWatch’s Referring Backlinks section

The advanced table settings have the DoFollow Vs. NoFollow column, specifying which of the referring backlinks have passed the link authority to your website and which ones tagged your URL as NoFollow.

RankWatch’s referring backlinks advanced table stating dofollow vs nofollow

Once you have the data, you can approach the websites from whom you want to remove the NoFollow or DoFollow tag for your website.

Besides, you can also uncover your competitors’ link profiles through our Backlink Analyzer. Just add their domain URL while creating a new project, and the entire link profile will be presented to you within seconds.

You can approach the referring websites linked to your competitors to improve your networking skills and even get opportunities for guest posting and collaborations.

Impact of NoFollow Links On SEO

How can NoFollow backlinks affect a website’s SEO? They are designed not to pass the link authority to the tagged website, right?

Well, there are some ways through which these attributes can affect your website’s SEO. 

1. Google Recognizing NoFollow Tags

Google with nofollow tag

Google had announced back in 2019, that it will start taking SEO NoFollow attributes as hints to understand the tagged websites.

Not only that, other attributes, like sponsored, UGC, and affiliate tags, will also be treated as hints by Google. 


The reason is still unknown, as Google never discloses the reason behind its doings. 

However, digital marketers and SEO experts interpret that the search engine might ignore the above-mentioned attributes in some cases if it feels that the tagged website deserves ranking and indexing.

What does this mean for your website? If you have a SEO NoFollow link, there is a chance that Google might give recognition to your site and even improve its rankings.

You can easily verify this with RankWatch’s Site Auditor as well. The Site Auditor dashboard showcases the number of web pages that a website has with NoFollowed tags.

RankWatch’s site auditor “non-indexable pages” dashboard

Upon clicking on the number, the feature further discloses the linked pages’ page depth, HTTP status, indexability status, and load time as well.

RankWatch’s site auditor Nofollowed pages dashboard

The above metrics will help you understand whether Google has indexed the web pages with NoFollow SEO tags or not.

2. Diversity In Link Profile

Diverse link profile example

A perfect link profile is one that has a good blend of DoFollow and NoFollow SEO links. Though the perfect ratio is still not known, it is better to keep a nice diversity in your link profile.

Remember, it’s not always nofollow vs dofollow, but a mixture of both rel nofollow and rel follow links.

By using both DoFollow and NoFollow tags, you will be able to pass on necessary link juice to trustworthy websites and still link to websites that seem relevant to your content but are not suitable for passing on the authority.

Moreover, a diverse link profile is more approvable by Google than one that lacks it.

3. Increase In Traffic

increase in web traffic graph

Yes, SEO NoFollow tags do bring traffic to your website. Even if you are not getting the desired page authority, you will get traffic from the referring website.

Besides, it is better to get a NoFollow tag from a website with high domain authority than a DoFollow backlink from a low-quality website.


So, this is all you need to know about NoFollow tags. 

NoFollow backlinks do hold a lot of importance in the field of digital marketing. Though they do not pass on the link juice, they still bring traffic to your website, and as stated above, Google takes NoFollow attributes as a sign for understanding the linked websites.

Hoping that this blog clears your doubts regarding NoFollow tags.

See you soon!

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