Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a crucial digital marketing tool that involves tailoring your website and social media presence to help customers find you online. One often-overlooked way to improve your SEO is through backlinks. A backlink refers to any text on another website that links back to a page on your site. These links help Google and other search engines recognize you as a valid, credible result to different search terms.
Search engine optimization can be one of the highest drivers of your website traffic, and it’s estimated to generate 1000% more website views than social media alone. Websites that generate a higher volume of backlinks typically get more traffic from Google and other search engines.
There are, however, two different types of backlinks, and one is better for helping customers find you on the internet. Backlinks are usually classified as dofollow or nofollow. A dofollow backlink is better for your company because it serves as an endorsement for the linked website.
What is a Dofollow Backlink?
A dofollow link attributes the link to its original website. Most outbound links fall into the category of dofollow, as this is the default standard. This type of backlink helps establish your site as a credible source of information, which helps push it to the top of the search engine rankings.
What is a Nofollow Backlink?
Nofollow backlinks include a piece of code that tells search engines not to follow the link. Using a nofollow link on your page shows that you don’t endorse the linked website. This type of link will inhibit your SEO ratings, as search engines won’t be able to establish your site as a credible result.
The nofollow attribute was created in the 2000s as a way to tackle spam. The nofollow category helps combat deceptive SEO practices, like the creation and utilization of fake accounts to deceptively promote your own website or backlinks.
Nofollow links still allow users to click on your site, they just don’t boost your SEO the way that dofollow links do. You can mark the backlinks on your own website as nofollow by adding the rel= “nofollow” attribute within the link’s code.
Which Type of Backlink Should You Use?
Which type of backlink you use depends on a variety of factors. While both types of links lead traffic to a site, the appropriate depends on a variety of factors. This brief guide explains the benefits of dofollow links and nofollow links.
Most backlinks are dofollow by default. This means that the majority of references to your page are likely to endorse your site as a credible source. Dofollow links add a boost to your SEO ranking, driving more traffic to your site through search engines and through the linked website itself.
If you’re not posting an ad or sponsoring a post, you should aim to get dofollow links to your website. Dofollow links from high-quality sites pass on what SEOs call "link juice" to a site. This can give you an SEO boost and potentially increase the rankings of your site.
In addition to these links sending more ranking signals to your content, it also adds referral traffic. A strong, natural link profile on your site allows you to rank for more difficult keywords.
One drawback of dofollow links is that they come with a potential increase in spam comments. When you have a lot of traffic on your site, you’ll likely receive a bot comment or two. For this reason, you may end up having to moderate your comments to keep the spammers from appearing on your site.
In general, you should aim to use dofollow backlinks. However, there are some scenarios where you might benefit from nofollow links.
Just because nofollow links don’t provide endorsement of your site doesn’t mean that they are “bad.” Nofollow links still direct traffic to your website because they are clickable. Anyone looking at a website with a nofollow link to yours can still click on it and head to your site.
Additionally, nofollow links can improve your visibility. If people are linking your website in an online forum, it might be tagged nofollow, but it’s still introducing your brand to new potential customers.
Nofollow links help keep companies from artificially boosting their websites by posting spam comments on other reputable sites. In general, most ads, affiliate links, sponsored content, and social media posts are marked as nofollow. If you run an affiliate marketing program, your affiliate links will likely be nofollow links.
These links don’t damage your credibility, they just help Google and other search engines filter out potential spam links and other fake content. Nofollow links don’t damage your ranking, but they don’t improve it either.
How to Create Dofollow Backlinks
Whenever you link another website on yours, you will generate a dofollow backlink. You don’t have to go in and add a link attribute, because search engines will automatically establish link authority when there’s no rel= “nofollow” tag.
Knowing how to get dofollow backlinks for your site will help you improve your online credibility and enhance your SEO ranking. Since social media posts, sponsored posts, and other forms of “inorganic” content are usually tagged as nofollow, you can generate dofollow links with high-quality content.
A dofollow link example would be a guest blog collaboration with a fellow business or with one of your vendors. When you write a guest blog for another company or collaborate on an informational post or video, have the other firm link back to your website. They can do it directly in the blog or in the video description.
Other dofollow link examples include interviews, relevant comments on other blogs and websites, and mentions of your business. If you’re not guest blogging, but someone uses one of your posts as a reference in their blog, you should encourage them to link back to the original post. This type of backlink is considered a dofollow link.
Checking Your Dofollow Backlinks
Anytime someone does an SEO audit on your website, they will likely check your backlinks. This task involves searching for your company online and clicking on backlinks to make sure they link back to the correct page on your site. Sometimes, links are incorrect or broken. It’s important to contact the site host to fix these links so that they will effectively drive traffic to your page.
Checking for dofollow backlinks is a little more involved because you need to be able to see the code associated with that part of the website. To see if backlinks to your page are nofollow or dofollow, right-click the link and click “Inspect.”
The inspect function lets you see the source code associated with the link. If you’re not familiar with HTML or coding, don’t worry. All you need to do is scan for the term rel= “nofollow.” If you don’t see it in the code, then the link is considered a dofollow link.
You don’t have to scour the internet and click on every website that links back to yours. There are plenty of automated SEO auditing tools on the market that will free up your time for other marketing tasks.
If you run into a nofollow link to your site, you'll want to first assess the link. Is the website in question linking to your social media or to user-generated content? Are you using an affiliate link? Is it a post where you're partnering with an influencer? In these cases, a nofollow link is normal, and you don’t need to take any action.
However, if you notice that a business or other website is posting nofollow links to your organic content, like blogs or employee profiles, reach out to the webmaster. Ask if they can change the nofollow link attribute to a dofollow backlink, or see if they’ll take it down.
Create a Natural Backlink Profile
Every website has a backlink profile made up of both nofollow and dofollow links. While it’s good to be aware of nofollow links to your page, know that they won’t necessarily damage your SEO rankings. So, instead of spending a lot of time searching for nofollow links to your site, focus on creating new dofollow links.
How to Earn Dofollow Backlinks
Creating high-quality blog posts and establishing yourself as a credible source of information will improve your chances of getting natural links. If you have experts on your team, have them write blogs or serve as guest lecturers at conferences and other industry events. Use your LinkedIn and other social media groups to boost your visibility by making quality contributions to discussions.
In general, use dofollow links when backlinking other websites on your site. If you’re using the site’s information for a credible reason in your content, adding a dofollow link will help improve the other site’s SEO performance. If you'd prefer not to utilize a competitor's site in your content, don't use a nofollow link to their page. Rather, find a different source for your blog so you don’t have to create an external link to your competitor.
Additionally, you can also conduct an SEO audit to find broken inbound links to your site. Reach out to the webmaster to fix the link. This is an often ignored aspect of link building.
A robust SEO profile will include a mix of nofollow and dofollow links. If you do find nofollow links, don’t fret. Just assess the nature of the link, and concentrate on generating good content. Soon, you will have a well-rounded SEO profile with a good mix of backlinks.