When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation, words such as dofollow and nofollow are re-occuring. These words can be quite confusing to people who aren’t familiar with HTML or SEO jargon. Nofollow is an HTML attribute for the anchor tag while we use the anchor tag to embed hyperlinks in the HTML code.
To understand nofollow and dofollow, you have to understand the basic operations of search engines. Search engines such as Bing and Google have search algorithms that scan web pages in websites on the internet. The search algorithms are referred to as bots, spiders, or crawlers, and the act of scanning is referred to as crawling. After the algorithms have scanned the pages, the scanned pages are processed and stored in the databases of Bing or Google for their search engine results. The process of storing web pages is referred to as indexing.
The saved pages are the indexed pages. Indexed pages will be displayed on the search results referred to as Search Engine Related Pages (SERPS). When the spiders or bots are crawling web pages, they pass through all hyperlinks in a page. Typically, they are supposed to follow the hyperlinks. The web developer may wish to include links that spiders cannot follow. Otherwise, all other hyperlinks are referred to as dofollow links.
They are introduced in the source code to reduce search engine spam. They are generated within HTML code. Developers use nofollow to prevent the website from credit passing other sites. Nofollow gives a link to an endorsed document such as user-generated content, comments or paid links. It’s used by Google to direct the search spiders not to follow the links and does not contribute to the ranking of a site.
The syntax for creating nofollow hyperlinks
The developer has to define the nofollow links in the anchor tag. Usually, nofollow tags are created using the following HTML code.
<a href=“www.medium.com” rel=“nofollow”>Best blog</a>
Situations where nofollow hyperlinks are used
Google has policies that guide the usage of nofollow links.
- Comments. There is no need for search engines to crawl through comments posted by visitors. Also, using nofollow for comments will discourage hackers and spammers from attacking your site.
- Non-indexed pages. Sometimes a website has pages that you do not want to be displayed publicly. Thus, they should not be in the search engine results.
- Forums. Forums have many posts that are irrelevant and might be considered as spam.
- Paid links. Search engines such as Google discourage paid links to prevent them from influencing search results.
- Corrupted content. The developer should use nofollow links if the hyperlink leads to a website that is not trusted by the search engine.
Advantages of nofollow hyperlinks
Nofollow links are normal and natural. Search engines rank sites based on creativity and natural links.
Nofollow links are used to build credibility and awareness of the business, brand, or service. Regardless, their input in SEO ranking, nofollow links build awareness for the website.
With regard to marketing, nofollow links are an excellent tool for informal promotion of your company or brand on the web. People post comments on your social media platforms. Though their comments won’t get your site high rankings, it will increase traffic to your site.
Nofollow increases site security as the tag is less vulnerable to malicious attacks by hackers and spammers.
Only interested people will comment on the website.
Disadvantages of nofollow hyperlinks
Some visitors may not leave their comments because of the nature of the nofollow attribute.
They discount link equity.
Dofollow links are the standard HTML hyperlinks which are not created with the attribute nofollow. These are hyperlinks that allow both search engines and humans to follow them. Dofollow makes a website to be indexed faster. It also gives a website more exposure as more people can link to it.
Situations where dofollow hyperlinks are used
- Links to posts with informative and original content.
- Links to other blogs whose content is related to your site can increase referral traffic and give your site SEO boost.
The syntax for creating dofollow hyperlinks
However, dofollow links are not implicitly defined in the anchor tag.
<a href=“www.medium.com”>Best blog</a>
Advantages of dofollow hyperlinks
They increase page preview in search results, thus greater ranking by SEO.
They increase the popularity of your website.
Dofollow hyperlinks attract more visitors to the site.
Disadvantages of dofollow hyperlinks
They are not secure and may be infiltrated by spammers.
Regulating all the comments is time-consuming.
Hyperlinks and SEO boost
Every hyperlink in a web page gives a website SEO boost. However, the type of links, dofollow or nofollow, determine whether the website gets the boost or not.
Dofollow links allow spiders of a search engine to crawl a link and thus, they get a higher ranking. High-ranked sites are considered reputable.
Nofollow does not allow search engines to crawl the hyperlinks and thus, the links do not lead to a higher ranking. However, they are essential when reducing spam-indexing. It is important to note that nofollow links are visible on the website and the user can click on them to navigate the web page that was linked.
Summary of the differences between dofollow and nofollow links
- The main difference between dofollow and nofollow links is based on their names. Search engines do not index or follow Nofollow links. However, dofollow links are followed indexed by search engines.
- Dofollow links are used by search engines to boost the ranking of a site. Nofollow links are not used to improve SEO boost. They can lower SEO ranking if used unnecessarily.
- Dofollow links are prone to attack by spammers and hacker while nofollow comments are not prone to attack since search engines do not index them.
- The structure of the dofollow tag does not have the nofollow attribute in the anchor tag whereas the nofollow hyperlink contains the nofollow attribute in the anchor tag.
- We use dofollow links for internal linking and content that’s useful to the visitor. on the other hand, we used nofollow links for paid links, advertising, and comments.
Web developers should use the principle of diversity to balance both dofollow and nofollow hyperlinks for their websites. Despite the minimal benefits of nofollow links on SEO boost, creative use of nofollow links may impact positively on the dofollow hyperlinks. To sum up, do not include links to increase SEO boost. Instead, include links based on their value on the brand, business, or service.