Nofollow versus dofollow links. It’s something you hear an awful lot but can be totally mind melting to understand. I’m not an expert, but this is my understanding of it. Hopefully it will be helpful!
Can you tell just from looking at the link?
The first thing to know, is that whichever link you use, it will look and work in an identical manner to people reading your site. They will see the link as usual, and if they click on it, it will take them to the site you’re redirecting them to.
Why use nofollow links?
When you link to a website, the link is automatically a ‘dofollow’ link. When Google send out their analysing robots, (it makes my head hurt when I think about how this actually works!), they will follow these links from one website to another. These links are what is known as organic.
Spell it out to me!
Take this example;
I go out and buy some shoes, I love them and feel the need to rave about them to my readers. I put a link in so that they can find the shoes themselves. I’ve not received compensation for my time from the brand, either in the form of money or the gift of the shoes, so it’s a totally natural recommendation and therefore fine to be an organic dofollow link.
When to use a nofollow link
You would use a nofollow link if you had received either money, vouchers or the product from the brand. This is because it is not an organic link.
Why is it important?
Google relies on the information these robots collect when doing these ‘crawls’ of the net to accurately pass information on to their searchers. I’m going to stick with shoes for the analogy here.
Say a company, let’s call them SPS, Slightly Pants Shoes, are struggling to rank with Google. They can’t build their website rating, or DA, because no one is organically linking back to them because their shoes are a bit pants. This means they are on page 50 when someone searches for shoes and so they never get any business.
The company realises that the only way to get higher up in the Google search results, and therefore seen by potential customers, is to get some of these precious backlinks from websites with higher DAs, (this is a number out of 100 that the website ‘scores’), then themselves. They contact lots of site owners, and offer them some money to link to them. The better rated sites decide to go for the deal, and publish the links on their sites, and this in turn boosts the SPS site’s own ranking, moving them higher up the search results.
Why does that matter?
In the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to see why it matters, but to Google, it’s very important because they rely on the information their robots bring back being accurate. Now that SPS has bought itself so many links, it is ranking much higher in the search results, and so being found by more people, the problem is, the product they are selling is still slightly pants. People start to lose their faith in the search engine for bringing them up websites which sell slightly shoddy products every time they search for something and maybe decide to use a different search engine. This is obviously bad news for Google.
What are the risks?
Well the problem is if Google find out, then they can penalise both sites involved, the brand and the site or blogger that published the link, pushing them way down the search ranking or removing them from search results altogether. People don’t always get caught and I’ve heard of bloggers that have been reinstated after being penalised so it’s really personal choice whether you want to take the chance, just make sure you know the risk you’re taking and make sure you are suitably compensated if you do decide to have dofollow links on your site.
How do I write a nofollow link? (WordPress)
This is so so easy! Seriously, don’t be scared. All you need to do is add a little bit of code to the link. Don’t switch off when you hear code, this is something everyone can do, pinky promise! You can get plugins that change your links for you. I would advice against making your entire site nofollow though, (there are plugins that can do this for you), as you then don’t have any organic links, which also doesn’t help your ranking!.
First the link, I’m going to link to my handy blogger’s how to section of my website so you can head there after if you liked this and want some more tips. 🙂 You can find it here.
Now what? Well I am writing in WordPress and so at the top right of the box are two tabs, Visual and Text. I now need to click into text view. I shall highlight and copy the link so you know what you’re looking for.
This is what my link looks like; <a href=”http://pinkpearbear.com/blogger-how-to/”>here.</a>
To make it no follow, I just need to insert the following; rel=”nofollow” after the first <a making it look like this;
<a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://pinkpearbear.com/blogger-how-to/”>here.</a>
Et voila! It is now a link that your readers can click on as normal, but the google bots will stop at.
Here is the official Google Page on it.
If you found this post helpful, please do share, all this jargon can be so confusing, it’s nice to simplify it with shoe analogies! 😉 If you’d like to know your own DA, your website’s score out of 100, you can check it on Moz’s site.