What is SEO? - Nofollows and Dofollows

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New to SEO? Read on, as ClickThrough gives the lowdown on dofollow and nofollow links. Whilst nofollows might not appear to pack much of a PageRank punch, they still remain valuable, as we explain...

If you’re new to the digital marketing industry you’ll have no doubt encountered an expression or two that leaves you itching your head in confusion.

Here at ClickThrough we’ve decided to impart our knowledge on one such phrase - nofollow links.

Nofollow links

First things first, let’s answer two questions on the matter in in one…namely:

1)       Wait... what? There’s more than one type of link?

2)       What is this ‘nofollow’ business anyway?

There’s more than one type of link?

Yes. ’nofollow’ is a real link attribute. In html, it looks like this:

<a href=”http://www.example.com/rel=”nofollow”>This is a nofollow link</a>

Dofollow isn’t a link attribute. It’s a quick and easy way of referring to links that aren’t nofollow. In other words, links that look like this:

<a href=”http://www.example.com/”>This is a dofollow link</a>

What is this nofollow business anyway?

Nofollows were brought in by Google almost a decade ago in order to KO spammy comments and the like. Under certain unethical practices, some individuals would include comments with links in on high ranking pages in order to potentially steal some of the PageRank for themselves (more on this later).

This would then trick Google into ranking their sites higher than it otherwise should.

What’s the difference between the two?

The clue is in the titles of the attributes.

Google uses the PageRank of a page as a ranking factor. PageRank is passed on from page to page through links.

A dofollow link helps pass on valuable PageRank to your website (the link is ‘followed’), whereas a nofollow doesn’t (the link isn’t followed). It really is as simple as that.

Google has sharpened its guidelines on nofollow links these days – for instance, they’re no longer advised in press releases – and since they don’t pass PageRank, it’s easy to think that they’re not very valuable for SEO. This view is certainly wide of the mark, however.

Nofollow? No problem

No PageRank? If you’re new to this, you might just be wondering what the point of a nofollow is.

Well, a link is nearly always a good thing, as long its building brand exposure, bringing in traffic and ultimately encourages more natural linking.

So, a nofollow link still has plenty of value.

For example, if you had a product featured in a The Daily Newspaper story with a nofollow link, the link would naturally bring in more website traffic (assuming the product was mentioned in a good light at least!).

This in turn could then generate more sales, leads and the like depending on the page the nofollow link is directed to. Both combine to mean a more natural link building strategy with increased exposure leading to more links, which then leads to more exposure and begins the cycle once more.

This is certainly not a bad thing!

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