Power of Nofollow Links. New SEO Tactics

Power of Nofollow Links. New SEO Tactics

One of the key tasks of SEO is to place as many links as possible on the site, which will lead new users to the site and increase its credibility in the eyes of search engines. Without context, nofollow links seem like a waste of time but this is only at first glance. Having understood what is nofollow, you can successfully integrate them into your promotion strategy and attract more new visitors.

What Does Nofollow Link Mean

By default, search engines perceive all links as dofollow and take them into account when ranking. External optimization using reputable trust sites is a proven way to get link clicks. You simultaneously increase traffic and increase brand awareness. Find more information in 11 Off-Page Optimization Strategies article.

It tells the crawlers that you don’t need to index the link and follow it. At the same time, for users, the hyperlink works in normal mode. Clicking on it will lead to the page specified in the code. Thus, contrasting nofollow vs dofollow backlinks is not entirely correct. Both links increase the visibility of the promoted brand for the audience. When it comes to outbound links, the nofollow attribute is irreplaceable at all. It helps the site not fall under Penguin sanctions and also reduces the risk of spam in article comments. Read more on Google Algorithms That Affect SEO and What is SPAM.

How to Make a Nofollow Link

The <a> tag is responsible for creating links in HTML markup. To specify the type of relationship between the link and the page, use the <rel> attribute. Nofollow is one of its values that closes the link for the PageRank algorithm. The page it refers to is not given a link weight. The rel=”nofollow” attribute is entered into the page code manually or using special Google Chrome and WordPress plugins. It looks like this:

Dofollow link: <a href =”http://example.com”> anchor text </a>

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

The second way to remove the link from the field of view of the crawlers is through the robots meta tag:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow”>

How to Check the Link for the Nofollow attribute

There are several ways to verify if a link is available for indexing. You can open the window with the page code and find the line with the nofollow label manually. However, it is more convenient to use a special nofollow link checker. This is a tool that will provide detailed information about all the links on the site, their display methods, attributes, and effectiveness.


How Nofollow Attribute Changed in 2020

Google has been using the nofollow attribute since 2005. Its initial task is to combat shadow promotion methods and link spam in the comments. The attribute could be applied both to a specific hyperlink and simultaneously to all links on the page. Let’s suppose someone from the visitors decided to use your site as a platform to promote their own resource of dubious quality. To avoid reputational damage, it was enough to include the string <meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow”/> in the code. As the requirements for link building were tightened, they began to use the string everywhere when placing affiliate materials and advertising.

No follow link quickly turned into an internal optimization tool. Find more information in the On-Page SEO article. It allowed prioritization between pages and more thoughtful use of a crawling budget. By 2009, PageRank was so heavily abused that Google had to rethink its algorithms to avoid manipulating the redistribution of the site’s internal weight. However, the nofollow attribute has not lost its relevance:

  1. First of all, its use is appropriate for hanging nodes: registration pages, payment, delivery terms, user’s personal account, and documents for downloading.
  2. The menu, logo, and breadcrumbs use circular links that are useful to the user, but they have no value for robots. They also need to be hidden.
  3. To save page weight, the nofollow attribute is also hung on some external links. This includes links to the developer’s website, news sources, social networks, and other contact information.

In March 2020, Google updated guidelines for using links. Nofollow ones can still be used as a robots meta tag and an attribute for the <a> tag. In this case, it loses its ultimate character. Now crawlers perceive it more as a recommendation. Based on the logic of internal algorithms, the system can take into account closed links when ranking pages. To ensure that robots are not allowed to follow the link, write no follow link code in the robots.txt file, add the noindex label, or place the data in the password-protected server directory.

To better understand the nature of links, Google introduced additional attributes for the rel-tag:

  1. rel=”sponsored” is used for commercial materials such as advertisements, paid anchors, footer links, and sidebars.
  2. rel=”ugc” works like a spam filter. It is used for custom content such as comments, reviews, and forum threads. If after moderation you consider that the link is trustworthy, the attribute can be deleted.
  3. The combination of values ​​allows you to clarify the nature of the link for crawlers. For example, the label rel=”ugc sponsored” indicates that the link was posted by the user for an additional fee. Rel=”sponsored nofollow” indicates that you do not want to transfer additional weight to the affiliate material. You can use a comma or space to separate attributes.

<a href=”https://example.com/” rel=”sponsored,nofollow”> anchor text </a>

After the updates come into force, it is not necessary to change the structure of already put links. However, Google strongly recommends using the new attributes for new links. For more information on how the Google nofollow, sponsored, and UGC tags work, see the Webmasters Community page.

Why Nofollow Attribute is Useful for Website Promotion

We’ve figured it out with the basic questions: what is a no follow link and how do you use the attribute for internal website optimization? But how does this help in external optimization? The ultimate goal of SEO is to bring as many unique visitors to the site as possible while increasing sales. The no follow backlinks do an excellent job, although they do not directly affect SERP line items. Read more on this topic here – What is the SERP in 2020?

Social Cues

We encounter nofollow links much more often than it might seem. Just open Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or LinkedIn – the vast majority of links on social networks are built on this principle. The same goes for forums (Reddit, Quora, etc.), press releases, news publications, and even Wikipedia articles. Moreover, every mention in social media (positive or neutral) increases your presence in the media space and recognition among potential customers.

Social networks are a priority in building external brand communication. In the context of nofollow links SEO, it is not the posts in the corporate account but the mention of the brand by other users. One successful retweet can lead to numerous visits. A good strategy is to work on viral materials that users will want to share on their pages. Find more information in the following article – Social Signals.

Domino Effect

Over the past few years, major players like Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNN, and NFL have begun to close outbound links with the nofollow attribute. Formally, they should not affect the link weight but the value of such links is still extremely high. It’s all about the credibility and scale of the audience.

Sometimes a single publication is enough for your site to spread all over the Internet. It is advisable to establish cooperation with reputable resources, influencers, or bloggers with a high citation index. Links to their materials often appear on other resources. The more people find out about you, the more traffic the link will bring. According to studies, 81% of buyers listen to the advice of bloggers and 71% are more likely to purchase a product that they are familiar with on social networks. Find out how to build relationships with bloggers in the Blogger Outreach article.

Attracting Targeted Traffic

When you place a link on a third-party resource, brand visibility is increased. In the eyes of users, dofollow and nofollow links look exactly the same. This factor does not affect the number of clicks. The main task is to interest readers and motivate them to learn more about the product. To do this, it is important that the site is close to your topic or its author can submit information as natively as possible.

An interesting effect is demonstrated by nofollow links through Wikipedia articles. The site traditionally occupies the top positions in the results. Users perceive it as an authoritative source and seek basic knowledge on various issues. Own Wiki page is an important status element, especially if the company or product that you are promoting receives active support in print media, on radio, and television.

When to Use Nofollow and When It Is Better to Do It

If closed links help so much in the promotion and are also safe in terms of penalty kicks, a legitimate question arises: Should I nofollow all external links? A radical approach does not work here. Nobody has managed to create the perfect proportion of nofollow/dofollow links. A lot depends on the subject, competitiveness, and SEO-optimization of a particular site. A SEMrush study showed that for pages at #1 position in SERP, the share of unfollow links ranges from 21-31%, while for the same sites as a whole – from 12 to 30%.

Link building strategy should be built based on the needs of a particular business. At the same time, there are situations when links must be closed for indexing:

  1. When you are not sure of the reliability of the site where the transition will be carried out, it is important to pay attention. If the resource acts as a doorway, contains malicious software, violates copyright, contains adult content, or is associated with illegal activities, its link may provoke penalties from Google. Link exchanges with resources with low trust capital or irrelevant topics may also negatively affect the ranking.
  2. Google strictly regulates the commercial relationship between sites. Paid links that were previously published under the nofollow tag should now be marked with the sponsored attribute. This applies to any advertising content, text, and images with paid or affiliate links. The same rule applies to links in press releases.
  3. Even with careful moderation, publishing user-generated content is a risky business in terms of spam. The rel=”ugc” tag relieves you of any responsibility for the links posted by users in the comments. This is only the case when the attribute blocking the movement of crawlers is appropriate to apply to the entire page as a whole.

There are a number of borderline situations where outbound links should be strictly regulated. If the option of guest posts is available on your site and you work with reliable authors, it is permissible to post one open link to the article. When you publish an interview with a public person, linking to their site will be a good form. Editorial materials, ratings, reviews, and product comparisons are also appropriate to provide dofollow links. Sites that you give an authoritative rating deserve to share the link weight with your resource. In this case, you should be cautious. If you publish such materials too often or cover only one product, Google may consider such actions as advertising.

If you buy links for promotion, do not close them for crawlers. Otherwise, you will not receive the reference weight of the donor site, which is necessary for website promotion. Also, do not abuse the nofollow label during internal linking. It is important to evenly distribute the link weight between the pages of the site.

Use Links Naturally

When using dofollow and nofollow links, it is important to remember about balance. Linking should be as natural as possible. Do not post open links that may not appear naturally. If there are too many links, this will not go unnoticed by the Penguin algorithm. A similar strategy runs the risk of ending with a ban. However, the rule also works in the opposite direction. If you close all the links for crawlers, Google may see this as manipulation, and the site simply won’t gain link capital for effective ranking. Don’t forget about Google’s main recommendation: links should be as relevant, interesting, and useful as possible for users. This golden rule works for all types of content.

About author
Anna has been working in Digital Marketing for 9 years and has extensive experience in SEO, content marketing, customer-oriented product branding. Previously, a commissioning editor in Nighparty Project and a creative member of the Marketing Unilever team in Europe.