Dofollow vs. Nofollow Links: Everything You Need To Know

Links are the backbone of the internet, you’ll often hear it said. Without them, the world wide web would not exist. 

As you probably already know, one of the ways to classify them is into dofollow or nofollow links. 

What is the difference between the two and how important are they for SEO? Let’s find out!

What Is a Dofollow Link?

The term dofollow link, or just follow link, is used to denote a link that passes link equity. These links will be followed by search engines crawlers. 

However, there is technically no such thing as a dofollow link, as there is no dofollow link attribute. All links are by default dofollow, unless otherwise specified. 

This is what a dofollow link looks like:

<a href=””>Link Whisper</a> 

And here is what that same link looks like on the web page: 

screenshot of a dofollow link

There is no need to add the rel=”dofollow” attribute to a link to make it dofollow. It will just add clutter to your code, and will serve no purpose whatsoever. 

All you need to do to create a dofollow link is add the desired URL to the desired anchor text. It will be followed automatically.

What Is a Nofollow Link?

A nofollow link is a link with the rel=”nofollow” attribute in its HTML code. It does not pass any authority from the linking page to the destination page. In that sense, it has very little SEO value.

However, note that Google themselves have said in the past, in a support ticket that has since been deleted that “In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links.” 

In other words, we aren’t completely sure whether nofollow links are completely worthless and are never followed, or if they still factor into Google’s calculations in some way. 

The nofollow link attribute was introduced in 2005, in an attempt to fight comment spam. It gave webmasters more control over outgoing links on their website. It was one of the first steps search engines took to make the internet a better place. 

This is what a nofollow link looks like:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>code snippet plugin</a>

And here is what it looks like on the page: 

screenshot of a nofollow link

Note that this nofollow link does not appear to be any different to visitors than a dofollow one. The appropriate attribute is only visible in the code itself, or with the use of a plugin, which we’ll get into in a moment. 

To make a link nofollow in WordPress, you will need to click on the link icon, and then select Advanced. Then just tick the appropriate box:

screenshot of making a nofollow link in wordpress

Key Differences Between Dofollow And Nofollow Links 

The key difference between dofollow and nofollow links is that the former pass link equity, also known as link juice, while the latter do not. 

Bear this fact in mind when choosing whether to make a link nofollow or not. 

How To Check If a Link Is Dofollow Or Nofollow 

You won’t be able to tell whether or not a link is nofollow just by looking at it. In order to check, you will need to look at the page’s source. Right-click on the page and select View page source, or hit CTRL+ U.

screenshot of the view page source option

Then hit CTRL + F and type in the anchor text of the link you want to check. The code will tell you whether it is nofollow or not. 

example of nofollow link in source code

You can also use a plugin like the Nofollow, which will highlight all nofollow links on a page. 

How Do Dofollow And Nofollow Links Impact SEO? 

Dofollow links pass link equity, meaning that they are beneficial for SEO. They are treated as recommendations and a virtual thumbs up. When one page links to another, it signals to search engines that the linked page is a good resource, and should thus be ranked high. 

Nofollow links do not pass link equity, and will thus be ignored by search engines. Or, at the very least they should be. 

When To Use Dofollow Links

You should use dofollow links for the vast majority of your internal links, as well as for all external links that you trust and would like to recommend. 

When To Use Nofollow Links

You should use nofollow links when:

  • You don’t want to endorse a page. If you don’t want your website associated with it, or if you don’t quite trust it, keep the external link nofollow. 
  • The link is sponsored, i.e. paid for. If you have received any monetary compensation for the link, mark it as both rel=”sponsored” and as nofollow. 
  • The link is an affiliate link. All affiliate links should also be marked as both nofollow and sponsored. 
  • The link is user-generated. All links that are created by website visitors should be set to nofollow. They should also have the rel=”ugc” attribute. This applies to post comments and all links on forums. 

Should Internal Links Be Dofollow Or Nofollow?

The vast majority of your internal links should be dofollow. The only exceptions are pages like your cart and user login pages, i.e. any pages that you don’t want indexed. There is no need to spend your crawl budget on the crawling of these links. 

You can use Link Whisper to help you manage your internal links and automate the internal linking process. It can ensure that you stay on top of your internal linking strategy and pass link equity where it needs to go. 

Should You Make All External Links Nofollow? 

No, you shouldn’t make all external links nofollow. This could be interpreted as trying to manipulate the search engine. 

If a website has massive authority, or if it is relevant, high quality and produces good content, you want to keep the link dofollow. Even if it’s your competitor. This will enhance the value and quality of your own page. 

If the website does not seem too trustworthy, or if they have a spammy backlink portfolio or link out to questionable websites, you can keep the link nofollow. 

Should You Create Dofollow Or Nofollow Backlinks?

Ideally, you want the majority of links pointing to your pages from other websites to be dofollow. This will pass valuable link equity and help you rank better.

However, you will naturally acquire some nofollow backlinks too. You don’t need to disavow them or ask the webmasters to make them dofollow. Unless they are spammy, they can remain a part of your backlink portfolio. They will improve its diversity, which is what search engines want to see. If all of your backlinks are dofollow, you will probably get a penalty, as you will be seen as trying to game the algorithm.

Nofollow backlinks are still visible to the page’s readers, so you can expect to see traffic from them. They are also great for exposure and improving brand awareness. They may not be as valuable for your SEO, but don’t underestimate them either. 

Key Takeaways 

The difference between dofollow and nofollow links is whether or not they pass link equity. You will want to use both of them on your website, and you will also want to see both types of backlinks. 

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