link building process

If you’ve read anything about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) then you will probably have come across the terms dofollow or nofollow. But what on earth do they mean? 

Nofollow Links

Links or hyperlinks all have HTML attributes intended to pass some information to search engines and web browsers. In the case of the nofollow attribute it is informing the search engine not to assign any value to the link.

What this means for SEO is that there is no value to the link to help increase a website’s organic search rankings, although web visitors can still click on the link and “follow” it to the new web page or website.

This attribute (or tag as it is sometimes called) was implemented (way back in 2005) so that webmasters could reduce the value of external links on their website and prevent unscrupulous site owners from gaining any advantage by, for example, adding lots of comment spam to high authority websites.

You may have noticed that links in comments from most, if not all, high authority websites will now have the nofollow attribute.

It’s pretty easy to identify a Nofollow link – it looks something like this:

<a href=”” rel=” nofollow”>SEO Basics</a>

Dofollow Links

Dofollow links, on the other hand, indicate to search engines that they should “follow” them i.e. go to the linked web page, index it and add the page to the search engine’s index of all web pages on the internet.

The side effect is that dofollow links add SEO value to the web page they link to – value that can have a positive impact on organic search rankings. People visiting the site can also (as with nofollow links) click on the link and move to the new web page or external website.

What is important to note is that dofollow links do not have an HTML attribute (or tag). So a link simply becomes dofollow if the rel=”nofollow” attribute is absent. What that means is that by default hyperlinks are dofollow – you don’t need to do anything in particular to ensure a link is dofollow.

This is what the above example would look like as a dofollow link:

<a href=””>SEO Basics</a>


Other Factor Affecting Link Value

Remember other factors affect the value of a backlink such as:

  • The anchor text
  • The location of the link on a page (closer to the top imparts more value)
  • Relevancy of surrounding text.

About Michelle Symonds

Established as an SEO specialist since 2009, following a career as a software engineer in the oil industry and investment banking. Michelle draws on her IT and web development experience to develop best-practice processes for implementing successful SEO strategies. Her pro-active approach to SEO enables organisations to raise their online profile and reach new audiences, both nationally and internationally. She has a wealth of cross-industry experience from startups to Fortune 500 companies .

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