It is a truth that has been universally acknowledged by many SEO and inbound marketing professionals that not all inbound links have equal worth in the eyes of Google’s search algorithm. One inbound link might do little to help a website’s search ranking, while another might bring in more than its share of desirable web traffic, thus helping to generate fresh leads and web authority.
Inbound links (also known as backlinks) are links that direct customers and search engines to your site. They can be further assigned into two main groups that tell Google how to treat them: ‘DoFollow’ and ‘NoFollow’.
So what’s the difference?
DoFollow Or NoFollow – I Don’t Follow
Both ‘DoFollow’ and ‘NoFollow’ links are tags that may be added to a link to instruct search engines to treat it a certain way. All links are automatically treated as ‘DoFollow’ unless otherwise specified. ‘DoFollow’ links are the bread and butter of SEO – these (as the name suggests) tell Google’s bots to follow and index links, incorporating them into its algorithm and offering the site at the other end a little bit of authority. These links can benefit a website’s credibility as being linked to by varied sources implies relative importance in the Internet’s vast hive.
The ‘NoFollow’ attribute, as its name also suggests, instructs search bots not to follow the link to which it is assigned. This was introduced by Google in 2005, in an effort to stop spammers from manipulating search engine rankings by creating masses of inbound links to their websites in blog comments and other public online forums. ‘NoFollow’ tells Google explicitly to not incorporate the associated link into its rankings. For this reason, ‘NoFollow’ links are often seen as worthless, but this is not necessarily true.
So NoFollow Links Aren’t Worthless?
In two words: not entirely. Although Google claims that their search algorithm does not follow these links at all, contrary studies have stated that search bots do follow NoFollow links, but only index the destination page if it is already indexed for other reasons (such as having other DoFollow links referring to the same page).
Ever since Google released the ‘Penguin’ update, which introduced measures to tackle common ways its search algorithm was abused to artificially enhance website rankings, it has been public knowledge that link diversity is essential. Not only do NoFollow links diversify your portfolio of inbound links, but they will also generate traffic, thus enhancing authority, reach and influence as well as the opportunity to convert leads.
Author: Jordan Kantey from Archetype Copywriting