2. On Page SEO for Beginners
Article #2.23

A walk through No follow Do follow links!

Understanding the core ‘No follow’ and ‘Do follow’ links. 

To begin with, Backlinks are defined as the links which are external in nature, giving links to your website, which means links from different websites directing to your website.
Backlinks are one of the most important factor of off page optimisation to rank your website on SERPs. There are many backlinks, and all are not important. Considering which backlinks are important and which links should be directed to your website, understanding no follow and do follow links is essential.

Do follow links are defined as links, passing link juice to achieve a better page rank in search engines as it tells the search engine spiders to follow the particular link. These follow links are links that counts as ‘votes’, forcing SEO link juice and increasing the page rank of the linked to sites.

<a href=http://www.rankwatch.com  rel=”dofollow”> rankwatch </a>

No follow links are defined as the links which will not pass any link juice. Here, the link is set as no follow, meaning that the Google bot will not crawl the link and will not pass any link juice. The link does not count as a ‘vote’ in the page’s favour. Also, it will not boost page rank. A nofollow link is created with the nofollow link HTML tag, which looks like this:

<a href=http://www.rankwatch.com  rel=”nofollow”> rankwatch </a>

Remember, Nofollow does not mean that the search engine bot will not follow the link at all but, it only means that the search engine bot will not pass value / link juice which normally would have passed for the given link. 

An infographic has been taken from http://searchengineland.com/download/nofollowtag-1000-2919.png

How can i add no follow link?

There are two possible ways to add a nofollow link to a website. The first one by: 

  • Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the <a> tag.
  • Redirect the links to any middle page which is blocked from search engines by a robots.txt file.

The second way is about adding a noFollow to your paid links:

  • Simply add a link to your content as you would do normally.
  • The link will look like this:
    <a href="http://www.rankwatch.com">rankwatch</a>
  • After adding the link, now switch to HTML view.
  • Now, Insert the NoFollow tag in the link:
    <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.rankwatch.com">rankwatch</a>

No follow tags should be added to your links so that, search engines do not ban you or so because you don’t go on lower rankings on search engine results page. If you don’t care about the rankings, don’t apply them. But, if you are a professional blogger, not using a nofollow tag will cost you much in long run. Don’t try short cuts, try to look on a bigger gain.
Thinking about why do we actually need to use nofollow tags. The answer is here. As i have mentioned above, Nofollow links are the links which we don’t want the search engine bots or Google bot to follow. So, when we link a website to any site, we don’t want to pass any link juice. So, to avoid that, we use nofollow. It will help to transfer the link juice to correct domain.
Make sure, You better use nofollow tags if you are linking to any affiliate products or to any spam sites.

Are Do follow links really necessary. When to use do follow?

As discussed above what is a dofollow link, the next question arises are they really necessary? When i think about asking this question to myself, i believe it does make sense because if you use no follow to prevent Google from following a link, it is believed that the link will be followed without an attribute. People might confuse that Google follows link by default until instructed. Well, it’s not necessary to use them but let’s see which are the exceptional situations:

  • Monitoring Comments - Be careful in monitoring your comments and delete those which you think are linked to spammy sites or to the blogs which are not of your niche. If you are linked to other sites which are of not your niche, those sites can harm you.
  • SEO Benefits - If suppose visitors or users are making comments or are posting something on your blog only to get a link, it is better not to link with them. Seo balance should be maintained. So you better need to link with those sites which gives you credibility and are of your niche.
  • Dofollow not necessary -  Don’t try to act smart. There are some plugins which allows you to add no follow in external links. If you have applied no follow on the link of your blog, it will be given the priority. You cannot use do follow and no follow simultaneously. This won’t be helpful.  

Why did webmaster start using no follow links?

Why to use nofollow links if offering pagerank from your link does not affect the ranking of your own web page. There are some situations where you might need nofollow:

  • Paid Links - It’s better to make a link a no follow if you are being paid for it. Google is very smart, if it catches you for taking money for a backlink, it will deindex your entire domain.
  • Adverts - You should use a no follow link if you have adverts on your blog. If you don’t do so, Google will penalize you and will follow the link to a sales page. Try making it a nofollow link.
  • Blog Comments - If you are not a regular monitor of your blogs, it’s better to make all your comments a no follow, or else you might breach Google’s terms of service.
  • Internal links - It is better to no follow all your internal links to pages like login page, thank you page, price page for visitors filling the forms or buying products.
  • Links to bad sites - If you are linking your site with any spammy or bad site due to any reason, make it a no follow link, otherwise Google will not spare you.
  • Links on Ads or sponsored posts -  Make sure all the links are no follow if you are being paid by a third party to publish a post on your blog. The backlinks which are paid are punished by Google. It applies for both, the page giving it and the one receiving it.
  • Unconnected Links - Always use no follow if you have linked your site with another site which is not of your niche. Google will be very careful and can take a step of getting you deindexed if he feels anything fishy. Google does not wants its search results to suffer and hence takes this kind of steps.
  • Affiliate Links - Make your affiliate products link as no follow as according to Google it is an advertorial.

Google’s take on No follow links!

Google talks about nofollow links saying that they don’t follow them, meaning that Google do not transfer page rank or anchor text across those links. If you use nofollow, it will lead to fall in the target links from the overall graph on the web. Well, if the URLs are submitted to Google in a sitemap , the target pages will still appear in the index if other websites are link to them without using a nofollow.

Can no follow link hurt my rankings?

I always had a doubt, if nofollow links can hurt my rankings. Matt cutts has cleared my confusion by stating, nofollow links cannot hurt the website rankings. Yes, it might hurt if you are leaving comments in every blog in the world, even if those links are nofollow links, you are spamming that much that people are getting annoyed by you, Google might take manual spam action against you.


How to know if the link is no follow or do follow?

To know whether the links are no follow or do follow, in your browser, right click the link which you want to know and select “Inspect element” in the menu. When you select the option, a window will appear in the bottom of the browser, highlighting the link with the complete html code. From there, you can inspect that whether no follow tag is used or do follow. If the no follow tag is used, then it will show no follow, otherwise it is a do follow.


Building backlinks involves great time and effort because you have to target your niche to build those links. The most of the your links are dofollow backlinks because of SEO reasons. To get traffic on your website, get a mix of both dofollow and nofollow links. 
Just remember do not link to bad sites or else all your pains will go waste.


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