SEO, Follow vs. No Follow Links, What’s the Difference?

Learn the difference between Follow and No Follow links in SEO

If you’re new to SEO you might be confused about the difference between follow and no follow links, and whether or not it’s important to specify what type of links you’re using on your website.

In short, Google, and other Search Engines pay close attention to what’s going on, on your website, and they specifically watch out for link spamming.

Links, especially inbound links (backlinks) are one of the most powerful SEO ingredients to boost your ranking on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Spammers (or scammers) are well aware of this and used to take full advantage of the search engines’ inability to distinguish between legit and garbage links. But then Google’s Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen introduced the nofollow link attribute in 2005 (yes it’s old, but still relevant) and this has greatly reduced link spamming.

A follow link is just a regular link, defined like this in HTML code:

<a href="">Link to YouTube</a>

Google’s AI (bots) are constantly looking for any reason to either give your site more “SEO juice” (points) that improves your Page Rank or to punish you if they consider your content ingenuous.

Any link to or from your website that looks like the link above, will be registered by the Search Engines, and give you SEO points. How many points each link gives you, depends on the quality of the links:

  • The higher the Page Rank (PR) of the site’s that link to you is, the more SEO juice you get and the more your PR improves.
  • When you link to other websites, those links count as SEO points as well. If your website is has a higher PR than those you link to, they get more SEO juice than the other way around.

A no follow link, is just like a regular link but with an attribute attached, called rel="nofollow", like this:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>No follow link</a>

The nofollow attribute tells the search engines that they should not consider this link when they give SEO points and determine a website’s page rank.

To avoid spamming. Like I said earlier, high PR websites give lots of SEO juice to the websites they link to. This is why WordPress and other CMS’s automatically assigns the no follow link attribute to user-submitted links.

Wikipedia does the same thing. This way spammers cannot just use public, highly ranked websites to promote their websites, by publishing links all over a blog’s comment section, or a Wikipedia reference section.

If you have a message board or a comments section, it’s probably a good idea to have it on by default, to avoid spammers abusing your site.

That said, you might want to reward specific valuable commenters (non-spammers) by disabling the nofollow attribute for their profile. This is a good way to get rid of opportunists while giving thanks to contributors for their support.

Not at all. If you have no-follow links referring to your website, e.g. from Wikipedia, you’ll still be able to get plenty of referral traffic to your website, directly from Wikipedia (a high traffic platform) when users click on your links in their articles.

No-follow does not mean no-traffic, it just means that the search engines don’t count them on their scorecards when they rank your website.

Indirectly no-follow links can give you plenty of SEO juice, by boosting your referral traffic and therefore improve your website’s activity and lead to conversions.

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