What’s The Difference Between DoFollow And NoFollow Links?

As a blogger, you will eventually come across the terms dofollow and nofollow. They relate to website links. What’s the difference between dofollow (aka simply follow) and nofollow links? Does it really matter which type you use? How do you specify which of them any one link is – and when should you make a link nofollow?

What Are DoFollow Links?

First we need to look at what links are, what they do. It’s easiest to explain this in terms of links in to your website/blog (inbound links). When someone else links to your website, they are in effect telling the search engines that the page they’re linking to is awesome for the word/phrase which is linked. This might be an individual page within your site, or your home page.

What's The Difference Between DoFollow And NoFollow LinksThese links are being ‘followed’ by the search engines. You are getting SEO points or ‘juice’ or ‘GoogleFu’ (you may hear it described in many different ways) thanks to these dofollow links.

The more established in its field the website linking to you is, the more notice the search engines take of who it links out to. The more SEO points a website has in this regard, the higher up in the search engine results for relevant searches you should appear. This is a very basic overview but it serves the purpose for now.

All of the above only applies for links which are left at their default setting, ie dofollow. You shouldn’t have to do anything to make a link dofollow. In some rare cases (such as on some forums, some blog commenting areas etc) links will be marked as nofollow automatically, but for general web purposes the default status of links is dofollow.

Pro Tip: When people link back to you from their site, these are called your backlinks. Makes sense, right?

So now apply the above to links out of your site – yep, you got it: your outbound links. When you insert a link out of your website to someone else’s site or blog, you are giving them those SEO points/’juice’/’GoogleFu’.

Which, incidentally, is why SEO plugins such as Yoast advise you not to dofollow your keyword/phrase for any post/page; it’s giving your GoogleFu for that phrase away to the linked page instead.

Most of the time giving away GoogleFu on various words or phrases might be fine with you. You’ve decide to link to someone else therefore you don’t mind them getting some SEO credit for just being that awesome that you’d link to them.

So should you just leave all your links as the default, as dofollow? Well, no. Let’s have a look at the occasions when you should be intervening and changing a link to nofollow. And just how you go about doing that.

What's The Difference Between DoFollow And NoFollow Links?

What Are NoFollow Links

Unlike dofollow links, nofollow links do not pass any SEO points/credit/’juice’/’GoogleFu’ back for the website it leads to. These links can still be clicked on and will take visitors to the destination website, but in SEO terms it’s almost like it isn’t there at all.

It sounds a bit mean, but we’ll get to why you really should nofollow some of your links in a while.

How Do You Make A Link NoFollow?

SO, how do you make a link nofollow, anyway? Well, when you’re writing your blog post (or editing a page, if that’s the situation) then you should see a box to enter the HTML editing area. HTML is a web language which communicates information about your text to the web pages its displayed on, and to the search engines.

Yeah, it’s a bit scary but you get braver each time (personal experience!).

The button on your blog post might be a ‘text’ tab (WordPress) or simply a button marked as <>.

Once you find your link in HTML mode, you can insert the nofollow attribute (basically a snippet of HTML which marks that link as nofollow). Like this:

<a href="http://thewebsite.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Link Text</a>

Pro Tip: The target=”_blank” snippet just tells web pages to open that link in a new tab or page rather than the same one the person is using.

When Should You Make A Link NoFollow?

There are certain links from your website/blog which should be marked as nofollow. Any paid links, whether outright paid for or affiliate links.

There’s really no point leaving affiliate program links as dofollow in any case; you’ll simply be giving SEO points(etc) to the affiliate program ie. Paid on Results, Webgains, Affiliate Window, Share A Sale, etc. They don’t need GoogleFu, and you don’t need to waste your valuable GoogleFu on them.

You are free to nofollow any link out from your website that you like, however it’s seen as bad form to nofollow a link to a website for no good reason. If they’re good enough for you to link to (above instances excepted) then they’re good enough to benefit from the SEO points a dofollow link brings.

I personally choose to nofollow links to web-hosted sex blogs, such as those hosted by Blogger or WordPress.com. Although those sub-domains can eventually rank well, I have found that being web-hosted is 99% of the time merely a transitory stage for sex blogs. We’ve already learned the value of becoming self-hosted as a sex blogger.

How To Tell Whether A Link Is DoFollow or NoFollow

Wondering whether someone has dofollow or nofollow linked to you? Here’s a handy way of finding out (I use Windows & Chrome, btw).

Right click on the link and select Inspect Element (aka ‘Inspect Elephant’ in our house). This should pop open an area on your page and who you the background HTML for the link. You should be able to see instantly if it contains the rel=”nofollow” attribute.

Click on the images to enlarge, use arrow keys to scroll

You can also right click on a webpage then ‘view page source’; this will open a page where you can do a find (Ctrl + F) for ‘nofollow’. It will highlight all instances of ‘nofollow’ in the HTML for that page.

By the laws of the Internet you’re then allowed to ‘Grrr’ or ‘Yay’ as appropriate. 😉

What's The Difference Between DoFollow And NoFollow Links

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What's The Difference Between DoFollow And NoFollow Links

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  1. A very good article explaining this!

    There’s one other point that bloggers should consider if they review products:

    If a company is going to send you something to review, it’s courteous not to NoFollow the link back to their pages.

    If I were looking for reviewers of my leather goods, this is one of the things I’d check and if all their backlinks are set to NoFollow, I’d think twice about sending them any of my bondage gear.

    • According to usual internet practice, those links *should* be nofollow. You’re providing products to people in exchange for follow backlinks, which in the eyes of the search engines is a paid link. I follow link to businesses that send me products, but you should be aware that this is actually not following the guidelines set by Google et al.

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