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When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), the rel=”nofollow” tag is an important HTML tag to know. Including this tag in your SEO strategy can help your website rank favorably on search engines. This is because Google doesn’t crawl nofollow links. Here we dive deeper into the importance of nofollow links.

What Is a Nofollow Link?

A nofollow link is a hyperlink that includes the rel=”nofollow” tag. This tag tells search engines that they don’t need to follow this link, essentially telling them not to crawl it. The idea is that they tell search engines to ignore these links so they don’t influence the ranking of a webpage. When users see a nofollow link, they can’t tell the difference between it and a normal link. Everything happens on the backend, ensuring that the link doesn’t count toward anything.

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Why Are Nofollow Links Used?

Nofollow links are used for the following purposes:

  • To preserve your webpage ranking — The purpose of a nofollow link is so that no PageRank is passed to the webpage the link leads to. PageRank is an algorithm that Google uses to rank webpages on its search platform. In other words, this means that links with the rel=”nofollow” tag do not affect your webpage’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • To fight against spam — Many comment sections get spammed with all kinds of links. Websites such as Wikipedia were also seeing a sudden influx of spam linked in its references sections, which was diminishing the integrity of the online encyclopedia. The nofollow tag is helpful in ensuring this spam doesn’t harm websites with high authority. Since spam in comment sections no longer leads to improved SEO, people who did this in the past have less incentive to send out spam.
  • To prevent link profiting — Prior to the nofollow link option, people could profit off selling links. They would pay websites to include tons of links in their content. Of course, the experts at Google quickly caught onto this sketchy practice. Since this search engine strives to provide users with quality search results, Google implemented this tag to ensure websites are only linking to make their content more meaningful, not to simply make a quick buck.
  • To boost visibility — Even if nofollow links don’t contribute to your page ranking directly, they can still help your brand gain exposure. For instance, if a high authority website links to your website but uses a nofollow tag, you would not get crawled by Google on this webpage. What may happen instead is that users click on this link and visit your website anyway. This act can boost your SEO and get more eyeballs on your brand’s website.
  • To grow dofollow links — Dofollow links are just regular links without the nofollow tag. As more reputable websites link to your website, users may be inclined to also link to your webpages on their personal blogs or social media posts. Rather than including the nofollow tag, these users may simply post your link as normal, which can improve your search rankings.
  • To build trust — Even if popular websites use the nofollow tag on all their outbound links, having your webpages linked on major websites can still build brand trust. When users see that a reputable website is willing to link to your content, this shows you are a trustworthy website.

How Has the Nofollow Link Evolved Over Time?

Back in 2005, Google started using a webpage ranking system called PageRank. The purpose of this algorithm was to tell search engines which webpages should show up first on search result pages. PageRank uses a point system to determine how to rank pages. One factor that led to higher rankings were links. The more websites linked to your webpage, the higher it was ranked by Google.

In a perfect world, this would work out just fine. Unfortunately, a little thing called spam exists, which would render PageRank useless. That is until Google released the rel=”nofollow” tag. Without this tag, bad players would flood comment sections of blogs, forums, and social media sites with the links they wanted to rank high. More links used to equal higher search visibility. Thanks to the nofollow link, websites have the power to fight against spam and ensure Google is ranking webpages fairly.

Now blogs can have comment sections that actually foster a sense of community. Prior to the nofollow link, these comment sections were filled with nonsense comments that included self-promotional links. Although we still see a little of that today, the nofollow link prevents these spammers from making as much of an impact on search.

What Do Experts Say About the Nofollow Link?

Experts say that a mixture of dofollow (default links) and nofollow links can lead to a more natural backlink profile. When your website only has dofollow links, this can look suspicious to Google. This is especially true if all of your links also have the same anchor text. You want to incorporate both kinds of links to show Google that you are building truly valuable webpages, not simply for the sake of link building.

When acquiring links, dofollow ones may be more beneficial to your rankings, although a high-quality nofollow link is helpful too. Even if this link gives your website no “Google points” for PageRank, it can get more users to visit your website. This can help boost your page ranking too.

As you can see, nofollow links are an excellent tool for marketing professionals to use. By incorporating both normal and nofollow links on your website, you’re showing Google that you are legitimately trying to provide quality content to users.

Knowledge Base: SEO

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