Types Of Backlinks: Nofollow VS Dofollow

What is the difference between nofollow vs dofollow backlinks? 2021

In this guide you will be learning different aspects of backlinks. I will make sure after reading this article you will be able to clearly differentiate between nofollow & dofollow backlinks. Also, we will be covering various aspects of of backlinks like how to create them, where to use each type, when to use them, etc. So let us begin with the basic question of what is a backlink?

What is a backlink?

A backlink is a link from a page on website A to a page on website B. In short, it allows you to navigate from one page to another easily. It is also known as “inbound link” or “incoming link.”

Backlinks play an essential factor in search engine optimization(SEO) which we will discuss in another article.

Importance of Backlinks:

Backlinks are essential from an SEO point of view since google and other search engines believe them to be an important indicator of “authenticity” and “digital vote of confidence.” The more quality backlinks you have, the more credible your website will appear to search engines. Above all, it is often said that they are the most crucial aspect of excellent SEO ratings. 

So now your website is seen as having high-quality content, backlinks also help with getting higher rankings on Google. The more total referencing domains a site has, the higher the site ranking.

The higher you rank on Google, the more people will see your content and click on your website.

Another benefit of having quality backlinks is that it helps to build your brand. For example, if a high-quality, trendy blog links to your website, you are also making an authority.

So, the more backlinks you have on your webpage, the more credible your content will be for search engines. Thus, helping your page rank on the first page of Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

Building quality backlinks is an essential part of off-page SEO and will be discussed in another blog article. 

What is a follow or dofollow backlink?

Any link by default is a do follow link. In other words, any link without the nofollow attribute is a dofollow link. In technical terms, there is no need for us to add the HTML tag rel=”dofollow” when linking to a website.

The above information is included in the HTML code of the page and thus isn’t visible for visitors to see, similar to other tags like your title tag or meta tag.

In other words, even though people can see outbound links on a website as hyperlinked text, they aren’t in the position to know whether this link is dofollow or nofollow.

How does a dofollow backlink impact your site ranking?

When another website links back to your website with a standard link that is a dofollow link, it can directly affect search engine rankings.

To really understand what is going on with follow and no follow links, we need to provide a bit of background about how most links work in the realm of SEO. When a website page gets an inbound link, which is a hyperlink pointing to that page, the page gets a small SEO boost. Think of a link as a point, and the more links you have, the more points you get. More Points will help you rank better on SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page).

Search Engines like Google takes note of these points, calculating how many inbound links a page has and from which sites. Google figures, hey, if a lot of people are linking to a certain page, it must be a really good page! Let’s give preference in our search engines to that page over others of a similar topic so we can easily deliver the very best pages to our search engine users.

Also, Google created a metric called PageRank to calculate these link points. Many SEO folks refer to link points as “link juice.” The link juice flows from linking sites into new sites through hyperlinks. The more reputable and authority site, the bigger boost of link juice that linked-to site gets. Getting a link from a high authority site in your niche is pure gold.

Now we can define a follow link as – links that count as points, pushing SEO link juice and boosting the page rank of the linked-to sites, helping them rank higher in the SERPs as a result.

What is a Nofollow backlink?

Nofollow links are links with a rel= “nofollow” HTML tag applied to them. 

A rel attribute specifies the relationship between the page where the link is and the page that the link points to.

According to Google, nofollow links are the ones that do not pass any PageRank (link juice) to the website being linked. This means that nofollow links don’t help your site gain credibility in the eyes of search engines. 

To the average website user, dofollow and nofollow links look exactly the same. However, nofollow links include a small piece of code, called an attribute, that lets search engine bots know not to follow the link. 

How do things work in the background for a nofollow backlink?

Search engines like Google discover new pages and add them to their index by following the links that exist on the web.

By applying rel= “nofollow” HTML tag to a link, you’re basically preventing search engine crawlers from following that link.

This doesn’t mean that the page can’t be discovered. The page can only not be discovered when it has a <noindex> HTML tag.

It just means that crawlers like Googlebot can’t follow that page through that specific path.

How to make a link nofollow?

You can create a nofollow link by adding rel=“nofollow” to your links. Though you can add the code manually, many content management systems automatically insert it when needed. If you have questions about how to add nofollow links, you can always check with your webmaster for advice. 

HTML Syntax for No follow Link:

<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Example anchor text</a>

Why Did Search Engines Create the Nofollow Tag?

The nofollow tag was originally created by Google to combat blog comment spam.

As the popularity of blogs grew, so did comment spam. Specifically, spammers would leave links back to their site in the comments.

This caused two major problems:

First, spammy sites started to rank really well in Google. This pushed high quality sites out of the search results.

Because the tactic worked so well, blog comment spam quickly spun out of control.

In 2005, Google helped develop the nofollow tag and rolled it into their algorithm.

Nofollow links prevent black hat SEO practitioners from benefiting as they usually plant backlinks in the comment section.

The tag was ultimately adopted by other search engines (like Bing and Yahoo).

What types of links are Nofollow?

Any link that has the nofollow tag is technically a nofollow link.

But in general, inbound links from these sources tend to be nofollow:

  • Blog comments
  • Social media (for example, links in Facebook posts)
  • Links in forum posts or other forms of user generated content
  • Certain blogs and news sites (like the Huffington Post)
  • Links from “widgets”
  • Links in press releases

And these popular websites use the rel=”nofollow” tag on all of their outbound links:

  • Quora
  • YouTube
  • Wikipedia
  • Reddit
  • Twitch
  • Medium

And there’s one more category of links that should be nofollow:

Paid links.

According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, any links that you pay for should be nofollowed.

For example, if you pay for a banner ad on a website, Google requires the link in the banner to be nofollowed.

So, if you are looking to increase your website’s authority with link building, don’t invest much of your time in leaving comments on blogs or posting on forums.

That said, even though nofollow links do not increase your PageRank directly, don’t be too quick to dismiss them.

What is the difference between do follow and no follow backlinks?

The only technical difference between the two is that a nofollow link has a nofollow tag.

As a user, it’s impossible to tell the difference between a nofollow and dofollow link. You can click on, copy and use a nofollow link like any other link on the web.

However, when it comes to search engine optimization, there’s a BIG difference between nofollow and dofollow links.

That difference is this:

Dofollow links help your search engine rankings. Nofollow links don’t.

We have already discussed how search engines, especially Google, uses dofollow link as a ranking factor, passes on PageRank (link juice), and helps in ranking.

That’s why, when it comes to link building, you want to get dofollow links whenever possible.

Is it possible to make all links on a single webpage as nofollow?

It’s possible to nofollow all links on a webpage by placing a robots meta tag with the value “nofollow” in the header. However, the nofollow tag is more commonly used as it allows one to nofollow some links on the page while leaving others followed.

How to make a link dofollow?

When you create a new link on your website, such as in a new blog post, it will usually be dofollow by default.

Have you spotted a nofollow link pointing to your website that you wish were dofollow? You can’t change a nofollow link to dofollow when it’s on someone else’s site. You’re better off understanding what types of links are typically nofollow links before reaching out to the site owner to ask if they can follow the link (remove the nofollow tag on the link) to your website.

Keep in mind that there are some instances where nofollow links are common — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Links are important, regardless of their no follow/do follow status, but you probably still want a few follow links to even out that link profile.

The best and the ethical way to get dofollow links is to create awesome, original content that gets backlinks naturally. People will share the content naturally if they like it. Other approaches include guest blogging, especially on a site relevant to your own so that you can build referral traffic in addition to getting an SEO boost, email outreach, etc.

How to check if a link is a dofollow or nofollow link?

  1. Right click on your browser and click “View page source”.
  2. Next, look for the link in the HTML of the page. In the new window that opens, you’ll see the source code for the page you’re on. Search on the page for nofollow. (Type Ctrl+F to open a search bar, then enter “nofollow.” If that word is used on the page, it will be highlighted for you. To check all links, you can instead search “a href” and look over the links to see which ones contain that nofollow tag)
  3. If you see a rel=”nofollow” attribute, that link is nofollow. Otherwise, the link is dofollow.

Here is what a follow link looks like:

<a href=”https://example.com”>Anchor Text Goes Here</a>

Here is what a nofollow link looks like: 

<a href=”https://example.com” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>

For the SEO experts who want to easily track nofollow links, there are many extensions available for Chrome and Firefox browsers. These extensions will automatically highlight nofollow links on the pages you visit.

Extensions for Chrome:

Extensions for Firefox:

When should you use nofollow links?

Until now, we’ve discussed nofollow and dofollow links in terms of someone else linking to your site. But sometimes you might want to leverage the nofollow attribute when you link out to third-party sites.

Here are few instances to use nofollow links instead of dofollow:

Advertising and Sponsored links

Any links that result from paid relationships including affiliate links should use the nofollow attribute. It sends a signal to Google that you’re not trying to game the system with a link scheme.

The best way is to use a nofollow attribute on all the sponsored links, more precisely rel=”sponsored”.

External Links

Sometimes, you may link to external sources as references. Since you don’t control the content on those websites, you should consider adding nofollow to them.

In simple words, you are telling the search engines that you are linking to a source, but it is not something you can vouch for.

User-generated content

Any time a visitor is able to insert a link on your website (in most cases it’s the comments or forum posts) it should be automatically nofollowed.

There’s a special attribute for this: rel=”ugc”

Pages you don’t want to endorse

Sometimes you simply need to link to websites that you don’t want to endorse. In such cases use rel= “nofollow”.

Additionally, any content that potentially could be considered “untrusted” should also use the nofollow attribute for links. This should include comments, if you allow them on your site. (A WordPress plugin can help you manage nofollow links for WordPress sites.)

Sidebar Links

Some content creators add a list of external or affiliate links to the sidebar of their WordPress blog. These external links may be from authority sites or websites that they trust.

The problem is every time a new page is created on your site, you also create a new backlink for those websites from your sidebar on that page.

It is important to make these links nofollow. That way, you are not passing the SEO juice from every page to certain links.

Nofollow Link Options for Google:

In September 2019, Google announced two new link attributes that offered webmasters additional ways to help Google identify the nature of different links.


Google suggests using the sponsored attribute to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships, or other compensation agreements — this is the preferred method they ask for if links are paid for in any way. 

The sponsored attribute looks like this: 

<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”sponsored”>Anchor text</a>


Google recommends marking user-generated content (UGC) links, such as comments and forum posts, as UGC. However, they added that if you want to recognize and reward trustworthy contributors who have consistently made high-quality contributions, you could remove this attribute from links.

What’s the Best Ratio of Nofollow to Dofollow backlinks?

There’s no “best” nofollow to dofollow backlink ratio for links pointing to your site. Some folks think 50/50 is a good mix, some say 40/60, and still others target 30/70 nofollow/dofollow links.

Remember, ultimately you want a healthy balance of do follow and no follow backlinks for the perfect link profile. Do follow links may do more for SEO, but both deserve a place in your online marketing strategy.

Are nofollow backlinks worth any SEO benefits?

Many people believe that link building only matters if you get a follow link. While quality follow links can be great for SEO, there are still clear benefits to getting nofollow links. Here are just a few:

Increased traffic — While many large sites nofollow all the outbound links on their site, they are capable of sending massive amounts of traffic.

Brand exposure — Getting mentioned on quality sites that are relevant to your audience is great for brand awareness.

Trust building — Links on quality sites can build trust in your target audience. Another bonus, the more consumers see your brand name, the more they begin to trust. 

Trust can lead to follow links — One site my nofollow a link to your site, but their readers may appreciate your information and link to you with a follow link. 

A natural backlink profile — If you are link building, you cannot get too many follow links at one time because it appears unnatural. You need to have both nofollow and follow to appear natural.

Avoid an outbound link penalty — If you are nofollowing links, you don’t have to worry about Google placing a manual action on your site for links. 

Quality traffic — Traffic is good, but what everyone wants is traffic that leads to sales, so if a nofollow link is driving you leads and sales, it is a very valuable link.


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