Nofollow and Dofollow links: what they are and when to use them

Google seems to be addressing the “NoFollow” link as a clue for crawling and indexing websites, making it an interesting topic to look at. From this guide, you will learn the benefits of these links, external and internal links, and how you can use them.

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NoFollow Links

A nofollow attribute simply tells the search engine to refrain from following an outbound link provided. It technically means the website using that link does not validate it. Google introduced the link after people spammed the comments section for bloggers looking to rank for some keywords.

How a NoFollow and Dofollow Link Appears

NoFollow is applied in your HTML. Most of the CMSs have a nofollow category, but this is how they would appear if you must do it manually.

Dofollow link: <a href=””>Anchor Text Here</a>

NoFollow link: <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>

NoFollow Link in Google

Google revealed two link attributes in September 2019 that gave webmasters different ways to recognize the links they used on websites. Google suggests that you use rel=”sponsored” for links that were remunerated in the form of sponsorship or an advertisement.

  • Sponsored link: <a href=”” rel=”sponsored”>Anchor text</a>

Use user-generated information links rel=”ugc” for forum posts or comments.

  • UGC: <a href=”” rel=”ugc”>Anchor phrase</a>

According to Google, you should use the rel=”nofollow” link when other websites information is not useful, and you don’t want Google to link your site with the linked one.

Unnatural Inbound vs. Natural plus Outbound Links

Google is always looking at the links that lead to each site to see if they are natural. Anything unnatural should be given the nofollow tag.

Unnatural Links

These are paid links or those that manipulate the search engine. Such links could be hazardous to your websites due to penalties from Google, and they may include:

  • Link exchanges
  • Selling or buying of links
  • Automated link creation
  • Press releases
  • Dofollow Directories

Google has penalized outbound links on guest posts recently, so you should also look into that.

When to Use rel=”ugc” and rel=”sponsored”

In a nutshell;

  • Use rel=”sponsored” when you are linking paid guest posts, advertorials, and link placements.
  • Apply rel=”ugc” on your comment section or forum posts.
  • Use rel=”nofollow” if you are not sure of the content and do not want to be associated with the site.

NoIndex vs. NoFollow

Sometimes most bloggers are unable to prevent the search engine from indexing a site or page they do not want indexed. That is why you need to learn the difference.

NoFollow links are used on individual links alone and can also be added on to tell Google to nofollow the links in a given page as seen below:

<meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow” />

However, this was back then, and Google could still crawl that page differently. For Google not to index some page you don’t want, you have to apply the noindex link.

NoIndex Tag

This tag tells the search engine that the owner does not want that page indexed. However, for the tag to work, the page should not be impeded. There should not be any robots.txt file on the page.

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

Crawling vs. Ranking vs. Indexing

Understand that these are three very different processes:

  • Indexing – search engine parses and then keeps all the content it crawls.
  • Crawling – search engine follows your links to explore any updated or new content or articles on the internet.
  • Ranking – the search engine will review all the information in the index and best match what users are looking for

Rel=”nofollow” Used as an Indicator?

Many website owners believe that changes in their websites since March were brought about by a recent algorithm update or their efforts in SEO. We are not sure of what Google has in store for us, but we know that they want website owners to apply the nofollow links as some kind of best practices.

Google says that they are studying these hints to understand how they will analyze the links in their systems. The changes have to occur because the links give valuable information to end-users even though we will not witness a significant impact on websites due to the change.

Checking for nofollow tags

To see the nofollow tags on your site, you can do it manually. Navigate to any page and then right-click, then click on “view page origin.” Press command F then look for nofollow. Click the arrows to the far right, and all nofollows on that page will pop up.

SEO Quake

It is an extension you can add to view all the external links such as nofollow and Dofollow.

SEMrush Analytics

To view the Dofollow and nofollow tags for your competitor site or your site, use the SEMrsuh Domain Analytics.

Are NoFollows Ideal for Link Generation?

Most people have in mind that link generation is only about getting the follow link. Whereas the follow link has numerous advantages, the nofollow links also have great benefits. They include:

  • Brand exposure – if you get quality sites mentioning your website, it creates brand awareness for your website even with a nofollow link.
  • It boosts traffic – large sites will send lots of traffic your way even with a nofollow tag.
  • Cultivating trust – having links on the quality sites builds trust in your audience.
  • Quality traffic – high authority sites traffic will generate leads and hence more sales.

Using SEMrush to Determine Issues with The NoFollow Tags

In case you do not know whether a nofollow link is present on your pages, use the SEMrsuh Site Audit tool. It will give you all the crucial information you seek. The tool will show you if any broken links need some fixing.

Backlink Analytics

You can use the Domain Analytic tool to see your backlink analytics. The tool can also enable you to export all the nofollow links. You will be able to separate the UGC and sponsored links to assess how your site performs on the outgoing links.