You can visit just about any SEO blog on the web and you’ll find a post telling you to avoid building nofollow links to your website, but that’s the advice you should be avoiding instead. There are several reasons why you should build incoming nofollow links to your website.
There are whole lot of people in the SEO industry that believe there is absolutely no value in gaining an incoming link with the nofollow attribute applied to it. Since the nofollow attribute basically means that the search engines will not follow the link, it’s assumed that it’s a waste of time to try to earn these.
NoFollow Links Still Send Traffic
The most obvious reason to gain these links is because they can still send traffic to your site. Who cares if your site doesn’t get any “link juice” from a nofollowed link if it still sends visitors? Those people could still become customers.
Some Search Engines DO COUNT NoFollow Links
The common belief of nofollowed links is that they don’t pass any link juice or do not contribute in any way to your rankings, but a post from David Leonhardt’s blog titled “Look who follows NoFollow links!” show that, according to his own test, Yahoo still counts nofollow links and that Google appears to follow them as well, just not to the same extent as Yahoo does. Even if these links don’t pass as much link juice as dofollow links, they still seem to count.
There is More Than Link Juice That Determine Link Value
Going on the assumption that nofollow links don’t pass much link juice, they still pass relevance. Just because Google doesn’t “count” the link, doesn’t mean that they don’t see what anchor text is being used. The anchor text is still showing the search engines what your site is about and is passing relevancy.
Some NoFollowed Links Are Very Trust-worthy
I (and others) also believe that nofollow links pass trust. If you have a link on Wikipedia for example, do you really believe that the search engines won’t pay attention to that link? If you can get links on highly trusted domains, whether they are nofollow or not, they will be taken into consideration by the search engines.
Keep It Real (and Natural)
Lastly, if you’re building incoming links to your site and almost all of them are dofollow links, your link profile is going to look very unnatural. A natural link profile will have nofollow links, dofollow links, different domains (.info., org, .com, etc.) and various types of anchor text (brand name, url only, keywords, “click here”, etc). This is how a link profile should look and this is how you build a trusted domain.
If you still put all your focus into avoiding nofollow links after this, you’re a lost cause.
Normally, I don’t comment on blogs, but your piece is so compelling that I can’t help but comment on it. You’re doing an excellent job, Man. Keep up the good work.
This is very good post.You are very brilliant .Keep posting.
You should always have link diversity. A mixture of follow and no follow backlinks is good to have.
I agree Alex, but there may even be more to it.
If the visitor who clicks on that “nofollow” link has a toolbar such as Alexa, Google, Yahoo etc. enabled on their browser, that toolbar is also collecting data which may (I say ‘may’ because we never really know) be used to increase page rank by the search engine.
So it may not have a direct influence, but it could very well have an indirect one.
Also, If I am selling a product, and that click leads to a sell, what do I care if the link was nofollow? I still got the sale.
Excellent point Michael! I never thought of the effect that toolbar data might have.
Hi Joe, perhaps things have changed since I’ve written this post (2009) and since a lot of the other studies have been done. It would be great if you could publish the process you used to study whether nofollow links work.
The ‘naturalness’ of a link profile is certainly going to include a lot of no follow links.
Actually in nearly niche I take a good look at I see a good % of nf links in place for the top ranking sites.
Hence I googled the theme and found this page!
Thanks for the advice.
I just came across this post, and found it very interesting that the no follow links would pass trust, even though they won’t pass link juice. This has changed my way of thinking quite a bit, and my strategies may change from this post. Thanks for sharing.
This is a pretty clear post. Even after two years this i still holding up as fact. I have explained to a number of my customers that it makes more sense to have a mix of sites links that have a no-follow tag as well as some that don’t. It just looks a lot more natural to the search engines that way.
I will definitely be reading more post from your blog.
All the links at social networking Websites like YouTube,Facebook, Twitter etc. are nofollow. Recently, Google & Bing declared that they give more preference to user generated social signals for nofollow links for updating their SERPs. The URLs with more social signals, even if its link in each social signal is nofollow, comes on top position in a SERP. Started doing the same for my Website.
As long as you are building a link on relevant site, nofollow doesn’t really matter. Back to the basic, would you build the link if search engines don’t exist?
There is no such thing as a “do follow” blog.
Yeah I’ve been building up my nofollow links for a long time. I think like you said the key is just anchor text and choosing appropriate keywords. Not to mention the Yahoo traffic alone makes posting worthwhile.
Thanks for the post. It has really helped me finally decide to add “nofollow” links to my profile. I do feel the most benefit obtained from “nofollow” links is through the use of varying anchor text. The second benefit people often overlook and is mentioned in this post is trust rank. Don’t forget that a site with a low PR value can outrank a site with a higher PR value for certain keywords. One way to do this is by including appropriate keywords in the anchor text and variations of that keyword.
Thanks for the information! Actually I’m quite struggling along this few months. This is because it’s very difficult to find a ‘dofollow’ blogs to put a comment.
I hope that it does really work, and I’m trying to implementing it as soon as possible…
Will update you with my results! 🙂
I’m glad of the fact that we are practicing the nofollow links. It’s a way of not overlooking the link instead awakening up the curiosity of those people who wanted to check the link.
Having some nofollow links is good. This article points out on what to avoid and what to trust. Good thing that you’ve made this post.
Point is, if I want to comment on something interesting or something that has helped me, I do! I don’t look to see if it is follow or nofollow I just comment.
That probably means that some will be follow but I’m not counting.
I think I knew that some search engines count nofollow links but thanks for reinforcing that point.
What about this commentLuv thing? I think it’s a brilliant idea… will probably add it to my site once I’ve uploaded my theme, configured theme, added plugins, wrote articles, backed up database, upgraded to latest Wortpress 2.8.99!….. sounds as though it might be some time yet.
YES, YES, YES,
you right, let’s not build links for engines let’s build links for people, that’s much more fun :).
Thank for this interesting post.
With kind regards from Austria
Check google Webmaster Tools – “Links to your site”. If google doesn’t follow nofollow links how come you can find all nofollow links there? 😉
Great Post. I have been thinking about this exact issue. i still have some concerns about weather or not a site may be penalized for linking to a large amount of no follow links.
Great article. For someone who spends 16 hours a day testing and retesting, this is nice reminder to look at the forest through the trees. Losing site of the goal is THE most common mistake that SEO analysts make. Its not even just about traffic. Its about traffic that leads to money changing hands. If a no follow link from a source brings a qualified buyer, spender, etc, and a transaction takes place – then mission accomplished! All the link juice and traffic in the world means nothing if they don’t convert and become a buyer…
The only bad links are those from farms and those from different domains but the same IP.
Great article! I totally agree with your standing on nofollow links. I’m very keen on good nofollow links as well. I think they still add value to a website. Keep up the good postings, I’ll keep an eye on your blog!
I completely agree with you – I have ranked websites high in Google with mostly no follow links
Very interesting. You bring up some outstanding points. We had also been told that nofollows don’t matter, but as you have explained, it seems that they really do matter. I especially always felt that any link that could drive human traffic was a good link. (Within reason)
Thanks for the info.
I wish no follow links did not exist. I also wish that link juice did not exist. That would make the people much more willing to link to everyone. But it does so it is now a reality.
I like this outlook on no follow links. But that bottomline is that they make or break your SEO. A couple good followed links from sites ranking high for keywords you are optimizing for with anchor text can go a long way.
Now i understand the difference between do-follow and no-follow. I prefer do-follow though in all.
I’ll just add this to the long list of things I don’t understand about SEO. Everybody tells me something different and I was easily confused before starting to learn this stuff. And don’t even get me started on something called Social Bookmarking – how does THAT work.
@Tim, one other thing that your comment made me think about is that the search engines may even devalue links in what they identify as comment sections, similar to block segmentation with sidebars and footer areas.
@Tim I totally agree with you on only using rich anchor text after contributing for a while.
I’ve done a small amount of testing with no-follow links but I’ve seen pages pop from beyond page 10 in the Google SERPS to page 1 with nothing added but a couple of high trust no-follow links.
I think a warning should be added to this excellent article, which is to not be a blog comment spammer. A lot of bloggers are viewing comments with anchor text as spam whether the link is relevant to the post or not. My suggestion is to include anchor text only after you have commented a couple of times on that blog. This way your future comments probably won’t get moderated and you will have built trust with the readers and the blogger.
I couldn’t agree more. I think there is a pretty large debate in the SEO community about all facets of SEO but many studies are starting to show that no-follow should not be avoided by any means as it is needed for a solid link-profile.
The no-follow tag does not work 100% of the time with google so there are situations that it will pass link juice from my studies. Also I have noticed that Bing! Search Engine also ignores the no-follow tag.
@Gerard Maybe…. you’ll just have to wait and see how the search engines treat it. 🙂 With the non-relevant URL’s that you and Aleksander posted, the trust could go down and then those links might not pass anything.
99.999% of our links are nofollow and some of our interior pages have a PR of 2, not the greatest but the site is not quite 4 months old so I am not complaining.
So if Nofollow links are ignored, how did we get a PR of 2 in less than 4 months????
Thanks for the comment RHunter. It’s great to hear another good example of nofollow links providing value.
Couldn’t agree more. I had a potential client come to me who was already ranking for some insanely tough keywords with 90% nofollow blog comments within his niche…oh and he had a Wikipedia link in there too. Makes you think, and it makes me test more and more 🙂
Yeah, I agree… having some nofollow links is good, in moderation it appears to help a site’s overall link graph. But man, just one or two potent followed links in the right place can really make a page pop.
@Brett, yeah you’re right. One or two of those high quality followed links can really push a site up
@costume fly, I’m glad I could help. Keep at it! 🙂
@linkbuildr, I’ve noticed too after looking through various link profiles recently that some sites have almost all nofollowed links and they seem to do very well. By the way, love your site. I’ve been following your RSS feed and checking out every post you guys make.
I have experimented with both and I KNOW that I am getting traffic from NO FOLLOW links. While the link juice is important, traffic is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?