If you have ads on your blog or if you accept sponsored content, you should understand DoFollow and NoFollow links.
What are DoFollow links
To understand NoFollow and DoFollow links, you have to learn how search engines work. Google and other search engines crawl your blog using bots. Once the bot understands what your page is about, it will index it and your page will appear in search results.
If there are links in your page, the bot will also crawl and index the page you link to. Search engines assume that these pages are recommended by you. And it’s only natural for bloggers and website owners to want other people to endorse their sites.
When a reputable site links your content, your Page Rank will receive a small boost. If a lot of sites are linking to the same website or page, search engines will see that your content is popular and will display it higher in search results.
Every link is a DoFollow link. So when you link to another website, you’re not only telling your readers that you like that post, you are also telling search engines that the website is trustworthy and has high-quality content.
What are NoFollow links
NoFollow links were introduced to combat spam and they are the opposite of DoFollow links. When you use NoFollow links, you are telling search engines not to crawl the other website. Humans will be able to visit the website, but the bots will ignore it.
NoFollow links do not influence a website’s PageRank. So the page you are pointing to will receive a boost, but its search ranking will not be decreased because of it.
When to use NoFollow links
Search engines like Google ask that you add the NoFollow attribute to any paid links on your site and to any links that you buy to point to your site. There are a few other instances that require a NoFollow link.
If you have ads or affiliate links in your posts, you should always use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. It doesn’t matter if the links are in your post or in the sidebar.
Some advertising networks, like AdSense, already add the NoFollow link so you don’t have to worry about it.
Any type of sponsored content
If you are paid to write about a product or service or if you receive free items to review, you have to add a NoFollow link.
Some companies might tell you that you should add a DoFollow link, but that goes against Google’s rules and you might be penalized.
This is a bit of a gray area, but some of the link building strategies like the ‘link to me and I’ll link back to you’ posts might also need NoFollow links. You will still send readers to those blogs and other people will find you, so this doesn’t mean that you should stop participating in link parties.
On Blogger and WordPress, the comment section is set to NoFollow by default. So if you leave comments on blog posts, you search ranking will not improve. You can change it to DoFollow, but it’s a good practice to leave it like it is because it might prevent comment spam.
Links that appear multiple times
If you have buttons in your sidebar or a blog roll, you should set those links to NoFollow. Search engines might see those links as spam because they will crawl them every time they index a blog post or page. You can prevent this by using a NoFollow link or by setting an individual page for your blog roll.
Sites that you don’t want to endorse
You might have to link to sites that you don’t trust or sites that have content that keeps changing (forums, guestbooks). There’s no need to send crawlers to those sites, so just add a NoFollow link.
How to add NoFollow links
This is very easy. If you are on WordPress, I’m sure that you can find plugins that do this for you, but there’s no need to install another plugin.
A normal, DoFollow, link looks like this:
<a href="http://www.websitename.com">Your text here</a>
You can make it NoFollow by adding rel=”nofollow” to it. You can do this by switching to your Text/HTML editor. Your link should look like this:
<a href="http://www.websitename.com" rel="nofollow">Your text here</a>
If you are on Blogger, you can choose the Add ‘rel=nofollow’ attribute when you add a link and it will be automatically added. Squarespace users should use a code block instead of the normal link block and type in the code.
Why they matter
If you have ads or sponsored content on your blog, there are laws and regulations that state that you are required to disclose paid links. However, the law doesn’t say what type of links you should use. On the other hand, Google and other search engines do require you to add a NoFollow tag to paid links.
I’ve heard about a lot of companies that will pay you to add DoFollow links to sponsored posts and that’s a violation of Google’s guidelines. It’s up to you if you want to risk being penalized for a small paycheck. But if you are discovered, your site can be removed from search engines and your Page Rank might drop and you will lose many readers.
I know this might sound scary and using NoFollow links can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s something that you can easily get used to. Link building is important and search engines want you to link to valuable content because they also want to give you quality content. You shouldn’t start adding NoFollow links to all links, just focus on paid links and sites that you don’t fully trust (or just don’t point to those sites).
Do you use NoFollow links? Hopefully, I covered all the questions you might have about this subject, but if you want to learn more, leave a message in the comments.