This post was written by Matt Banner of On Blast Blog
There are internet marketers out there who practically suffer cardiac arrest every time they find out a link they earned is a Nofollow. At the surface, these types of links seem pointless. They don’t offer anything in terms of pure SEO value or ranking, so what’s the point? Are they harmful, do they look bad on your backlink profile?
All of these questions and more are swirling through the minds of bloggers and marketers everywhere. It’s time to put the doubts to rest and find out why Nofollow links aren’t as bad as they seem.
What are the Difference between Follow and Nofollow Links?
In terms of SEO, when someone places a hyperlink directing to one of the pages on your site, you get a small boost to your ranking. Think of it like a recommendation letter. Someone saw enough value in your content to recommend it to their readers. This kind of trust shows Google that you’re doing something right. Earning high-quality white-hat links like these is a major focus for SEO specialists.
Google measures these inbound links in the form of a metric called PageRank. A term you may hear in the SEO world is “link juice” which refers to the points you get from backlinks. The more authority and rank the site linking to you has, the more link juice you get. For example, getting a link from a major news site is huge!
That’s a follow link. A Nofollow link doesn’t offer any of these benefits in terms of SEO. When you see them in a page’s HTML code, they look like this:
<a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>anchor text</a>
That little tag shows us that this isn’t a regular link. In fact, it tells search engines to just disregard it. Why do we even have something like this? Well the main purpose is to stop spam from artificially getting link juice. It didn’t stop spam from appearing in blog comments, but it certainly helped.
Nofollow links are most commonly used in situations where a link is paid, or in comments, forums, and anything else Google’s guidelines would consider “untrusted.”
Right, so Nofollow Links = Bad, Right?
No, that’s not the case. Nofollow was designed the limit spam and the like, but they have their uses. In the grand scheme of things, one single backlink doesn’t make or break an SEO strategy. There are plenty of other SEO tips out there that can boost your rankings easily. On the flip side of things, one Nofollow link can do wonders for your traffic, leads, and conversions.
How is this possible, I hear you ask?
Nofollow links can bring you something called referral traffic. Beyond simple SEO, links are meant to provide a seal of approval as mentioned earlier. A reader doesn’t know if a link is follow or Nofollow just by looking at it. Either way, if they click on it, they get to see your content. That alone is a bonus, regardless of the behind-the-scenes SEO benefit or lack thereof.
Links on Twitter for example are Nofollow, but how many times have you clicked a link because you liked the headline? These simple events can create awareness. As Nicole Kohler described in her post on Moz, links create a certain type of equation:
A (awareness) + E (engagement) = P (Profit!)
A single click from a single link on a place like Twitter, or in a blog comment, can start this equation by raising awareness. Once you have the visitor, the rest comes from engaging them through your content and ultimately turning them into a paying customer.
All of the links on social media are Nofollow, but as we all know, they can lead to traffic. Traffic leads to leads, and leads turn into conversions. In addition to raising awareness, Nofollow links can lead to follow links down the line.
In the eyes of a reader, and potential lead, a link is a link. They don’t know and probably don’t care if it’s follow or Nofollow. What matters is that you have a link directing people to your content. Get the most out of your Nofollow links by making them relevant and point them to high quality content.
How do you maximize your Nofollow links? What tips would you offer for those seeking a good mix of follow and Nofollow links? Share your thoughts in the comments below!