Understanding Nofollow Links vs. Dofollow Links

Understanding Nofollow Links vs. Dofollow Links
One of the critical debates in SEO conversation is the one of what are nofollow vs. dofollow links and how do they differ.

In this blog post, we will walk you through a complete guide on understanding these backlinks types and how to utilize them to their maximum potential.

What is a Dofollow Backlink?

A dofollow backlink can be understood as an approval, an endorsement, or a thumbs-up from one site to another. It’s essentially a website delivering SEO benefits or “link juice” to another website.

By default, all the links that you insert into a blog post or a web page are dofollow links, and these pass link equity.

In the language of webmaters, a 'dofollow' link is a link that passes "link juice" or "SEO strength" from the linking website to the linked website, effectively contributing to its search ranking.

Just imagine the 'dofollow' link as a positive vote to your website, saying to search engines, "I validate and recommend this linked content."

Example of Dofollow Link: <a href="http://www.yourdomain.com/">Your Keyword</a>

a dofollow link example

What is a Nofollow Backlink?

In comparison, a nofollow backlink is basically a link that holds a ‘rel=nofollow’ tag, signaling search engines not to pass SEO value to the linked website. 

Now picture the 'nofollow' attribute as a neutral vote. Here you are saying to the search engines, "While I provide this link, I do not cast a positive vote for it."

Example of Nofollow Link: <a href="http://www.yourdomain.com/" rel="nofollow">Your Keyword</a>

a nofollow link example

Since nofollow links do not pass PageRank they don’t really help your website to rank higher on the SERPs. However, Google announced in Sep 2019 that it could consider nofollow links as a “hint” in terms of ranking.

Even though the 'nofollow' link doesn't provide a direct SEO advantage, it can still benefit your site indirectly by introducing your content to new audiences, driving traffic, promoting further engagement, and potentially prompting additional 'dofollow' links.

Interpreting Other Link Attributes

There exist a couple of other link attributes that you may come across in the context of SEO. Though not as extensively used as 'nofollow' and 'dofollow', it's still essential to understand their impact. The newer link attributes include:

⛓️ The rel="sponsored" attribute: This is used to identify links that are advertisements, sponsorships or any other compensation agreement.

Example of Sponsored Link: <a href="http://www.yourdomain.com/" rel="sponsored">Your Keyword</a>

⛓️ The rel="ugc" attribute: UGC stands for User Generated Content and the ugc attribute value is suggested for links within user generated content, such as comments and forum posts.

Example of UGC Link: <a href="http://www.yourdomain.com/" rel="ugc">Your Keyword</a>

⛓️ The rel="me" attribute: It is used to represent a page that is about an individual. It is typically used on a link that points to the individual's page on another website.

Example of Me Link: <a href="http://www.yourdomain.com/" rel="me">Your Keyword</a>

In summary, 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' are key attributes that determine how your backlinks interact with search engine’s algorithms. They're like online directives, instructing how bots should treat the provided link – to follow or not to follow.

The Distinct Features of Dofollow and Nofollow Backlinks

Every good marketer knows that not all backlinks are created equal - especially when we draw the line between 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' backlinks. Here’s a detailed comparison of the distinctive aspects of these two link types:

  • Passage of Link Juice: As we have learned, 'dofollow' links pass the link juice or SEO strength from the linking page to the linked page, signaling the search engines to consider the vote of approval. It's like a pat on the back that says, "Good job, here's some help to get you higher on the rankings".

On the other hand, 'nofollow' links are like a courteous nod, a hint of acknowledgment, but no further backing or support towards improving ranking. The link juice doesn’t flow through to the linked website here.

  • Impact on SEO Ranking: 'Dofollow' links are highly sought after in the world of SEO. This attribute acts as a direct ranking boost to the linked website. They're the links that get you noticed by search engine crawlers, thus improving your ranking potential.

'Nofollow' links, conversely, do not have a direct effect on the ranking of the pages they link to. They indicate to the search engine bots to not take them into account when determining rankings. Even then, 'nofollow' links play various indirect but vital roles within the realm of SEO.

  • Occurrence and Use: 'Dofollow' links, the default type, are found naturally across the web. They are created when one website links to another without modifying the link's attributes.

'Nofollow' links are mainly found in blog comments, sponsored posts, press releases, and forums. They are intentionally set up like this by webmasters to avoid passing link juice in cases where the authenticity or quality of the link may be in question.

Now, let’s take this a bit further and dive into the world of PageRank and how it plays with the dynamic duo, i.e., 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links.

Understanding PageRank and Its Relation with Dofollow Links

a chain drwaing

PageRank, a Google brainchild, is an algorithm used by the search engine to measure the value of pages based on the quality and quantity of links pointing to them. 

'Dofollow' links have a direct influence on PageRank because they pass on link juice, thus bolstering the linked website's PageRank value.

Imagine PageRank as popularity's measure; the more "popular votes" (read 'dofollow' links) a page has, the higher it scores in the PageRank. It is like saying: "Hey Google, look how many thumbs up I got! I must be doing something right!"

It's important to note that despite 'nofollow' links not passing SEO strength, they do stop PageRank from hoarding on a single page. If a website has numerous 'nofollow' links, the PageRank gets distributed evenly among all links, disregarding the 'nofollow' attribute.

Having a balanced combination of 'dofollow' and 'nofollow' links results in a natural, diverse backlink profile which search engines love. Hence, while 'dofollow' links might be attractive for their SEO advantages, 'nofollow' links also have an indirect but essential role to play in maintaining a well-rounded SEO strategy.

This brings us to an end of our detailed differentiation between 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links. We hope the distinct aspects of these link types are becoming clearer and you can start imagining ways to incorporate them in your SEO plans.

But don't just run off to add backlinks to your website! It's vital to comprehend where and when to use which type of link. Worry not! We're here to guide you through the labyrinth of link selection and their apt usage.

✔️ When to Use a Nofollow Backlink

Now that we've established that a backlink profile rich in both 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links is a sign of a healthy and natural website, let's evaluate the instances where using 'nofollow' would be beneficial:

For Paid Links

Any link that you have paid for should be given a 'nofollow' attribute. This is to ensure compliance with Google's guidelines that prohibit the purchase or sale of links to manipulate PageRank. 

So, if you have participated in any form of link exchanges, paid or sponsored content, or advertising, they should all be 'nofollow'.

For  User-Generated Content

Websites that feature content generated by users, such as blogs, forums, commenting systems, etc., should also use 'nofollow' links. This is because the website owner does not have total control over the quality and relevance of the content being linked to.

Untrusted Content

If you are linking to content that could be considered untrustworthy or low-quality, 'nofollow' is the safest choice. For instance, websites that allow guest blogging often use 'nofollow' links.

❌ When NOT to Use Nofollow and Opt for Dofollow Backlinks

On the other hand, some situations call for the use of 'dofollow' links. Let's explore the occasions where implementing 'dofollow' links is recommended:

For Internal Linking

Interlinking your webpages is a great way to boost your SEO performance. It provides a clear path for Googlebot to crawl and understand your site's architecture. For internal linking, always stick to 'dofollow' links to allow for the even distribution of the link juice across your site.

For High-Quality Externals Links

Quality should always trump quantity when it comes to 'dofollow' backlinks. If you're linking out to reliable, authoritative sites that offer value to your readers, feel confident to use 'dofollow' links.

For Backlinks from Trustworthy Sites

Having 'dofollow' backlinks from reputable websites is a boon in your SEO cap. It sends signals to search engines that your website is a trusted source of information, thus enhancing your domain's authority.

As you delve deeper into the SEO rabbit hole, you'll realize that the game doesn't just stop at receiving a 'dofollow' backlink. Equal emphasis should be laid on where it’s coming from and what potential it possesses to improve your site's credibility and boost search engine rankings!

How to Check Nofollow and Dofollow Backlinks

Understanding the distinction between 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links is only half the battle won. The next crucial step is to identify and distinguish between these link types. So, let's explore how you can check if a link is 'nofollow' or 'dofollow'.

🔍 Method 1. Examining the HTML code

An elementary yet effective way to distinguish between the two link types is by examining the site's HTML code. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Right-click on the link you want to check.
  2. Select 'Inspect' or 'Inspect Element'. You'll see a window hosting numerous lines of code pop-up. Don't get overwhelmed!
  3. Look for the HTML tag that starts with <a href= "URL". The "href" part is the actual link.
  4. Check if the tag contains 'rel="nofollow"'.

If you see the 'rel="nofollow"' tag, you're dealing with a 'nofollow' link. If not, it's a 'dofollow' link you're looking at. 

However, it might be a time-wasting process sometimes when it comes to check all link types on a web page/website. At that time, you can consider benefiting backlink checker tools.

🔍 Method 2. Utilizing Backlink Checker Tools

If ruffling through the codes isn't your cup of tea, or if it seems like a too exhaustive process, there are several reliable and user-friendly SEO tools available to simplify this task. 

SEOmator: Out all-in-one SEO platform offers a palette of features, including the identification of backlink types. The only thing you need to do is enter the URL into the blank bar and submit. The free backlink checker tool automatically defines all dofollow and nofollow links, showing the type of each link.

SEOmator's free backlink checker tool

NoFollow Simple: NoFollow Simple is a dedicated 'nofollow' highlighting tool. In a similar way, enable the extension on the webpage and all 'nofollow' links will be highlighted, making them easy to spot.

NoFollow Simple extension

SEOquake: SEOquake provides a plethora of SEO-related data, including the 'nofollow' feature. When turned on, the 'nofollow' links get the strike-through treatment, indicating their status.

SEOquake tool

By leveraging these extensions, you can easily and quickly identify 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links, making your SEO journey smooth and efficient.

You might want to read: Quick Ways to Find Who Links to Your Site or Any Site

The Balance and Importance of Diverse Backlink Profiles

So, why do we keep talking about diversifying your link profile with a healthy blend of 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links?

In the world where algorithms play God, a link profile that's diverse and balanced is perceived as more natural and authentic. 

A site with only 'dofollow' links could emanate an artificial vibe, leading search engines to question its credibility. On the other hand, a link profile rich in both 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links sends a signal of genuineness, a feature that search engines appreciate.

Link diversity isn't solely about the 'follow' status though - it also entails diversity in sources, anchor texts, and link locations. A rich tapestry of various links paints a holistic picture of your website, its associations, and its online reputation.

But, a question that's possibly nagging you – how exactly do you cultivate this diverse link profile? Hold onto your inquisitive horses, for we're going to decode that in the next section!

How to Effectively Build a Diverse Link Profile

Cultivating a diverse link profile requires methodical planning, strategic thinking, and a bit of creativity. Here are the steps you can follow:

01.  'Dofollow' Links - Create Quality Content: This is the cornerstone of effective link building. When your content is original, informational, and relevant, other websites will be more likely to link back to you, earning you those precious 'dofollow' links. This could be through blog posts, research reports, white papers, case studies, infographics, or even engaging videos!

Spice up your content creation by mixing different types of content like blogs, infographics, podcasts, etc. This gives your audience a nice variety and increases the chances of earning 'dofollow' links from diverse sources.

02. 'Dofollow' Links - Guest Blogging: Contributing posts to authoritative sites in your niche can provide excellent opportunities for earning high-quality 'dofollow' links. Remember to pitch to websites that resonate with your industry for maximum relevance and impact!

03. 'Nofollow' Links - Engage on Social Media and Forums: Platforms like Quora, Reddit, YouTube, and industry-specific forums offer plenty of scopes to add links to your website. While these are typically 'nofollow' links, they can direct traffic to your website and even lead to indirect 'dofollow' link opportunities!

04. 'Nofollow' Links - Comment on Blogs: Leaving thoughtful comments on industry-specific blogs is yet another avenue to earn 'nofollow' links. Approach it with genuine intent to engage, not just to get a link!

05. Balancing Link Types: Aim for a link portfolio where 'dofollow' and 'nofollow' links complement each other rather than compete. Diversify your linking domains and ensure you’re linking to and earning links from authoritative and relevant pages.

06. Monitor and Revise: Schedule regular audits of your backlink profile. Use SEO tools to check the quality of your backlinks regularly, identify broken links, and spot any unnatural link patterns. Keep evolving and fine-tuning your link-building strategy based on these insights!

Remember, building a diverse link profile is an ongoing journey and not a destination you reach overnight. Each link you earn (be it 'nofollow' or 'dofollow') is a seed you’re planting in your SEO garden - nurture it with care, and it'll bear fruitful results!

Stay tuned for the concluding chapter of our series, where we'll recap the key points about 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links.


At the core, 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links are the building blocks of any effective link-building strategy. Distinguishing between the two is vital to drive traffic, improve search engine rankings, and augment your online reputation.

Balancing these links brings a dynamic diversity to your link profile, which helps in withstanding algorithmic changes and promoting organic growth. Your SEO strategy should ideally be a fair mix of both 'dofollow' and 'nofollow' links: 

1. Cultivate Quality Content: Develop creative, original, and informative content that can act as a magnet for 'dofollow' links.

2. Leverage Guest Blogging: Build associations with authoritative websites in your niche and contribute quality blog posts, securing strong 'dofollow' links.

3. Engage in Digital Community: Actively participate in forums, social media, blog comments, and cultivate authentic 'nofollow' links.

4. Monitor Backlink Profile: Regularly review your backlink portfolio to understand the balance of 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links and adjust your link-building efforts accordingly.

May the strength of 'dofollow' links propel you forward, and the wisdom of 'nofollow' links keep your SEO strategy grounded and authentic. 

You might also want to read:

- Expert Roundup: Free vs Paid SEO Audits

- How to Identify the Cause of Traffic Loss

- If-Modified-Since/Last-Modified usage and SEO