What Is the Difference Between Follow VS No Follow Links?

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dofollow vs nofollow links

Do any kind of research into the world of SEO and you will no doubt come across follow and no follow backlinks.

I assume, since you found this article, that you aren’t yet clear on the exact difference between follow and no follow links when it comes to site building. Fear not, the purpose of this article is to outline the major differences between the two, as well as how they impact your website.

Note: Technically, there is no such term as a do follow link. This is something the vast majority of people get wrong. A do follow link is simply called a follow link. The term, no follow, is correct.

What is a No Follow Link?

The best place to start this conversation is with the definition for no follow links since by default, all regular hyperlinks online are follow links.

A no follow link has an extra piece of HTML coding attached to it that instructs the search engine bots to essentially ignore that particular link and not to pass on any link juice.

Basically, it’s telling Google not to count the link.

Here is how a no-follow link will look in the HTML code of a site:

<a href="http://www.google.com/" rel="nofollow">Google</a>

Notice the rel=nofollow tag. Follow links are the default and don’t need any addition of tags to the hyperlink.

A link to your page essentially acts as a vote for the quality of content on your website. The more links you have, the more trustworthy and useful your content looks to the search engine bots.

Since no follow links do not pass on link juice, the whole reason behind the no follow link is to reduce the amount of spam online (for example: in the comment sections of blogs).

What To Use For External Links

If you are linking out to another website and want Google to recognize that you have linked out to that site, then you should use a follow link. Follow links are also helpful to search engines since they can help the bots gather a better idea of what your content is about.

Linking to other sites is also a natural thing to do on a website that has its readers best interests at heart. Google is always favouring websites with the most helpful content.

How I use the nofollow tag when building external links

I use follow links for 99% of my external links. These are links to helpful sources that compliment my article. I use nofollow links when the site I link out to has nothing to do with my content.

What To Consider For Incoming Backlinks

So far, we’ve mainly discussed the differences between follow and no-follow links when it comes to linking out to other websites.

But what about when other sites link to you?

Well, since we know that only follow links act as a vote for your website and pass along any link juice, shouldn’t we only focus on those?

The answer to that question is no. While follow links have a direct impact on your website’s search rankings, no follow links can be useful in building your domain authority and credibility.

A no follow link is still a link that is visible by all internet users, which means it has the capability to send referral traffic to your website. A no follow link from an authoritative website will still pass on some authority to your own site.

For example, for one of my newer sites, the initial backlink campaigns I’m running consists entirely of getting dozens of no follow links from Wikipedia.

There’s always an ongoing debate of whether Wikipedia links actually help rankings. But from my research, the answer is: YES it does. A lot, in fact. It may not help individual pages rank for their targeted keywords. But from a wider perspective, it helps rank all your newer pages across the board.

And a link profile made entirely of follow links is unnatural. A natural backlink profile is going to have a good mix of both do-follow and no-follow links.

Final Thoughts on Using Do-Follow and No-Follow Links

For external links:

Use follow links. Share the link juice. It won’t hurt your rankings to link out to helpful, supporting sources that compliment your article.

Use no follow links only for links to irrelevant external pages and affiliate links.

For inbound links:

Building follow links should be the main objective for any link building campaign. They’re the ones that directly impact your rankings.

However, you shouldn’t ignore no follow links from authoritative websites.


  • Reply
    October 10, 2018 at 5:30 am

    Thanks – this is a pretty interesting scenario.
    I agree that No Follow links do not pass value. I do, however, agree that they can be seen as an authority single and indirectly increase rankings.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      December 14, 2018 at 2:21 pm


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