NoFollow Links - Everything You Need to Know!

A NoFollow link is a link that does not contribute to the pagerank calculation and does not directly enhance it. In contrast, Follow links (or DoFollow links) are links that propel “SEO link juice” (i.e., PageRank) and boost the PageRank of the linked pages, helping them rise in the SERPs. A NoFollow link is created using the HTML tag “nofollow”. You can find NoFollow links in content such as blog comments, forums, press releases, paid links, or anything labeled as “untrusted content”.

Despite the fact that NoFollow links may not explicitly increase the PageRank of your website, they can still bring value. For example, they are needed for a natural backlink profile. NoFollow links can also increase traffic and brand presence. Ultimately, they can contribute to the growth of your DoFollow links.

Functions of NoFollow Links

The NoFollow tag ensures that robots do not follow the link, and the linked website does not receive any ranking benefits since no link juice is passed on. 

Another method of using the NoFollow attribute is to control the link juice on your own site to direct power to other important pages. However, in practice, this measure does not provide benefits. Google suggests in the Search Console Help article “Using Rel=nofollow for Specific Links” that it would be more effective to allocate resources for user-friendly navigation and URL structure and influence the crawling process with the NoFollow attribute.

NoFollow Links - Impact on SEO

The question of the impact of NoFollow links on SEO  is controversial in the community. Some believe that a backlink profile with a high proportion of NoFollow links has no disadvantages since no PageRank is transferred, and thus, the link does not influence the ranking. Others are convinced that NoFollow links can indeed lead to punishment by Google.

There is even disagreement about whether NoFollow links transmit any “signals” at all. A prominent example is links from Wikipedia. Many SEO experts believe that consistently marked references in the encyclopedia with NoFollow have an impact on ranking, even though Google continues to deny this. What is clear is that NoFollow links are part of a natural link profile. A good benchmark for the proportion of these links in the link profile is a comparison with competitors.

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The Backlink Portfolio

A balanced backlink portfolio should include a variety of NoFollow and DoFollow links to build a healthy and natural link profile. However, there is no fixed or magical ratio between these two types of links that applies equally to all websites. The ideal ratio depends on various factors, including the type of website, industry, competitive situation, and individual SEO goals.

Here are some guidelines and considerations:

  • Naturalness: A balanced ratio should primarily appear natural. Websites with excessively many DoFollow links and only a few NoFollow links may be considered manipulative. A natural ratio should vary.
  • Industry standards: Analyzing the backlink profiles of competitors or other websites in your industry can be helpful. This can give you an idea of what is considered balanced in your niche.
  • Quality over quantity: The quality of backlinks is often more important than the ratio of NoFollow to DoFollow. High-quality backlinks from authoritative websites, regardless of their attribute, are usually more valuable.
  • Trusted sources: NoFollow links from trusted sources, such as major news organizations, government sites, or reputable industry directories, can have a positive impact on your SEO.
  • Link profile diversification: A balanced backlink portfolio should also include different types of links, such as guest posts, press releases, social media links, directory links, and more.
  • Competitive analysis: A detailed analysis of your competition can help you determine how your ratio of NoFollow to DoFollow links compares to others in your industry.
  • Long-term perspective: The strategy for shaping your backlink portfolio should be based on long-term results. Focus on earning high-quality backlinks rather than solely concentrating on the ratio of NoFollow to DoFollow.
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