Nowadays even the very new digital marketer will be able to tell you that your Link Profile (aka back-links, link building) is one of the three major SEO components. What that might not be able to tell you about with quite the same accuracy, is what the value of your links are. Including the pronounced difference, between ‘nofollow’ and ‘dofollow’ link types.
So, let’s get the basics covered from a very entry level standpoint by explaining that ‘back-links’ are web links between to domains. This is a one-way trip, so from one web domain to the other. Let’s also for the sake of argument assume that all links are ‘dofollow’ links. I say this because essentially this was the case in the early days of the search engine break through, all links were considered to transfer SEO authority (more on this later). In fact, you’ll almost never hear the term ‘dofollow’ link, outside of a discussion like this. But you will often hear about ‘nofollow’.
So, if we assume at first all links are ‘do’follow’, then what is a ‘nofollow’? You’re still following me right? 😉
When search engines and SEO came to light, it was obvious that links were a prominent way to boost your search engine rankings by obtaining as many as possible from varied sourced. At this time aside from mass link buying and farming, a popular technique was to bombard forums and blog comments with anchor text links to your website in order to generate a new link. These things popped up everywhere and search engines like Google dubbed certain types of coded links to automatically qualify as ‘nofollow’.
The term ‘nofollow’ comes from the notion that if a link has a ‘nofollow’ tag against it, a search engine crawler would quite literally not follow the link to arrive at the referred website. Thus, the link was essentially void and didn’t count. It certainly wouldn’t pass on the sought-after link equity SEO marketers crave.
This is still the case today all though in addition, webmasters have the ability to set almost any link to ‘nofollow’ if desired. It is also common for ‘nofollow’ to be set as default on various platforms.
The basic principle is that not all links are equal. The ‘nofollow’ link type has considerably less ability, if any, to transfer credibility and almost no stand alone value in increasing your rankings on search engines. This makes monitoring your link profile closely an important part of your approach to SEO for your site. It may be that you have thousands of links, making it seem like you have a positive and growing link profile. And in theory you do, but just how significant is it? What percentage of those links are ‘nofollow’?
For those of you who are considering a link building campaign in which you set out to actively generate more new links for your site, ‘nofollow’ links will not be your focus. You need to look at methods to earn genuine links from ideally high authority sites that are linked to your industry or your products and services in order for them to have an notable value to your campaign.
And don’t even get me started on the rest right now, including context, anchor text and domain authority. We’ll cover those in a separate blog I think!