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Dofollow or not dofollow? -Nofollow links guide

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!

Nofollow links versus dofollow links.

Shakespeare and coding talk? That’s how I roll today!

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.



  1. September 10, 2016 / 6:42 am

    Oh my god THANK YOU!
    I think you actually got through to me: the most is clearing!!
    Such a helpful piece, you could be a teacher.
    Big love,
    L xxx

    • September 10, 2016 / 6:45 am

      Oh thank you!! You’ve made my morning!! I’m so glad it could help!!xx

  2. September 11, 2016 / 7:33 pm

    After all this time, a husband in IT and attending a blog conference seminar on this very subject, you are the FIRST person to make proper sense on this one.
    Congrats – have some cake xx

  3. September 12, 2016 / 8:15 am

    This is so helpful! I’ve been meaning to read up on the nofollow links thing but you’ve saved me a job as this it explains it perfectly! One question if you don’t mind me asking – if a company has given you vouchers to write a post to feature on their website (like a guest blog) but you haven’t featured any of their products, and you want to write your own post on your own blog directing people to your guest post, is it still a nofollow situation?! #bigpinklink x

  4. September 12, 2016 / 8:19 am

    Nope, you lost me on Nofollow and Nofollow. Are you out of the Hobbit? Is that some sort of Elfish language you speak?

    My head hurts after reading that. I am going to have a little lie down.


  5. September 12, 2016 / 8:30 am

    The whole follow/not follow thing can be very confusing, especially when companies try to bully bloggers into leaving follow links.

  6. September 12, 2016 / 8:30 am

    ah! I hear lots of this jargon but have never understood as I don’t work with brands but at least I know where to come to if I ever do. Well done for trying to make this clearer #BigPinkLink

  7. Nige
    September 12, 2016 / 8:39 am

    Totally brilliant post in simple easy language to understand for new bloggers especially it’s excellent thanks for hosting #bigpinklink

  8. September 12, 2016 / 8:48 am

    I have never heard of dofollow-nofollow links, I think this has just confirmed the fact that I have so much still to learn!! I’m sure that this all makes perfect sense if you know what you’re doing, I’m saving it for a time when I am more clued up! #bigpinklink

  9. September 12, 2016 / 9:24 am

    I’ve never noticed before but there’s a little tick box to tick/untick on blogspot! Thank you for the clear explanation #bigpinlink

  10. September 12, 2016 / 9:34 am

    Thank you thank you thank you! I have never been able to get my head around this but I finally get it thanks to your shoe analogy! I have recently been approached by a company wanting to pay me to post “dofollow” links and not disclose that I have been compensated. Far too dodgy for my liking and so I didn’t respond, although I wasn’t entirely sure why. Now I get it and I’m so pleased that I didn’t go ahead. Thanks lovely. I’m bookmarking this to come back to xx #bigpinklink

  11. September 12, 2016 / 9:49 am

    Thank you so so much for sharing this! I’ve been breaking into a sweat every time I saw this mentioned anywhere as I didn’t have a scooby what it meant! #bigpinklink

  12. September 12, 2016 / 10:12 am

    This is so helpful, i didnt have a clue before reading this! Thank you. #bigpinklink

  13. September 12, 2016 / 10:31 am

    Having just written my first post where I received the item in return for the review I am so glad you wrote this – I was literally just trying to puzzle out the whole no-follow thing last night #bigpinklink

  14. September 12, 2016 / 12:45 pm

    Can’t go wrong with a shoe analogy, in my humble opinion! This is a very helpful article and I will be bookmarking it for future reference! #BigPinkLink

  15. September 12, 2016 / 2:19 pm

    Oooh so so so helpful. Well done for making sense of it and getting to make sense to others! I had a rough idea but that has really helped. Although I am a little confused still…surely lots of bloggers who do sponsored posts most use do follow links all the time without being spotted? It’s sounds like a massive risk to take but I guess people do it a lot? Hmmm anywho I’m definetly pinning this post to remind myself how it all works when iv forgotten it, probably in about 30 minutes xx #bigpinklink

  16. September 12, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    Thank you. That was so straightforward for me!! Now I need to find explanations on all the other things I keep reading about!!! #bigpinklink

  17. September 12, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    I have only just mastered Twitter. I think I will have to read this again when I get better at IT! #bigpinklink

  18. September 12, 2016 / 4:34 pm

    And this is one reason why I don’t do paid stuff. Google’s rules around this stuff and all this techy stuff anyway, gives me a headache. I like how you used the shoe analogy though. It did make it better to understand. Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink

  19. September 12, 2016 / 4:53 pm

    Wow. I knew nothing about this at all. Really handy to know. Thank you. Just got to find some slightly pants shoe manufacturers to pay me to do nofollow links now… #bigpinklink

  20. September 12, 2016 / 6:09 pm

    Such a helpful post and so good to have it literally spelled out haha. It took me a really long time to get my head around it, I didn’t even know it was a ‘thing’ for a long time! #bigpinklink

  21. September 12, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    OK I’m still not 100% sure bit will investigate further as I never knew anything about this at all! #bigpinklink

  22. September 12, 2016 / 8:55 pm

    THANK YOU FOR THIS. I have never written a sponsored post, so have never used nofollow links, but I have been wondering exactly what they are, and how you make follow links nofollow, etc, so this spells it all out to me in very plain English. #bigpinklink

  23. September 12, 2016 / 9:51 pm

    You have explained this perfectly! The whole no follow/follow thing is so confusing. It frustrates me how many brands ask for follow links without considering the risks for the blogger publishing them. Your shoe analogy make everything so much clearer, especially for new bloggers. Will share this 🙂 xx #bigpinklink

  24. September 12, 2016 / 10:04 pm

    All my links must be dofollow I didnt realise, heres something else to work on in future ta x

  25. September 13, 2016 / 9:12 am

    This stuff scares me! I don’t think that it affects me, as I don’t work with brands BUT if I did this post would be awesome. I love your ‘pants shoes’ analogy. Such a good post for those in need – well done for shining a beacon of light on it! Alison x #bigpinklink

  26. September 13, 2016 / 9:13 am

    OMG! I just bookmarked this Shakespearean baby and will reference as needed. I didn’t even know about nofollow links! Now I do, and I’m sharing! M’wah to you, and thanks! <3 <3 <3 #bigpinklink

  27. September 13, 2016 / 11:31 am

    This is something I have struggled with in the past, but after that I honestly get it! Perfectly written, I’m Pinning for future reference!


  28. September 13, 2016 / 1:23 pm

    I’ll deff have to save this one! well done on pulling together 🙂 #bigpinklink

  29. September 13, 2016 / 8:42 pm

    This could have saved me hours of Googling when I was just starting out! Really simply put and easy to follow!

  30. September 14, 2016 / 9:47 am

    You’ve explained this so clearly and concisely. I must have learned about no-follow links so many times and I always forget again. Hopefully, you’ll have helped me actually remember!


  31. September 14, 2016 / 10:45 am

    I’d heard the terms but like many, MANY tech related things it scared the pants off me. I’m happy to report I read the whole thing, pants firmly in place. Brilliant piece thank you for explaining x #bigpinklink

    • September 18, 2016 / 1:41 pm

      I’m very pleased that this was a pants on piece!! 😀 I know what you mean. Tech stuff always scares the heebie-jeebies out of me until I manage to untangle the jargon in my mind!

  32. September 14, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    Thank you for explaining this in easy to understand terms, this is definitely a topic I have only just got my head around- wish I’d had this to read a long time ago!! #bigpinklink xx

  33. September 16, 2016 / 1:35 pm

    I rarely actually use nofollow links as my understanding from my website designer is that the ‘rules’ are constantly changing and Google won’t actually de-rank you. That’s what he said anyway! #bigpinklink

    • September 18, 2016 / 1:21 pm

      It’s hard to keep up isn’t it?! Their current guidelines seem to state that they are still unhappy about the practise but whether or not you get caught or de-ranked is the risk I suppose, especially as they might change the rules back and catch you out! (Not meaning you personally but writing one makes me feel weird! 😀 ) It all seems very stressful! 🙂

  34. September 17, 2016 / 7:27 am

    There seems to be a big issue with this recently doesn’t there! I’m glad I understand it the same way as you means I actually know something for a change! #bigpinklink

    • September 18, 2016 / 1:18 pm

      It seems to be all I see on groups at the moment, hence my reason for writing this. I’m really pleased I have it straight, it’s one of those posts you write and then doubt yourself!

  35. September 17, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    Love this post as it puts everything into very simple terms for me – which I need lol!! I have had to say no to a could of sponsored posts now as they insist on follow links 🙁 x

    • September 18, 2016 / 1:17 pm

      It’s really hard isn’t it. I think it’s all down to personal choice really, but I don’t really fancy taking the risk.xx

  36. September 18, 2016 / 8:43 pm

    Ooo this is interesting as I am hoping to go self hosted soon and was thinking about using a plugin but hadn’t thought about organic links! May have to reconsider. Thanks for hosting #BigPinkLink xx

    • September 18, 2016 / 9:49 pm

      Oh I’m glad it was helpful! I think there is a plug in where you just tick a box for follow/unfollow when you add your links.xx

    • October 2, 2016 / 6:31 am

      Oh brilliant!! That’s so cool that you’ve been able to use it too! How exciting!!!

  37. November 17, 2016 / 1:53 pm

    I’ve been blogging almost 2 years, but now I FINALLY understand follow/nofollow links. Thank you

  38. November 24, 2016 / 2:41 pm

    This was a very insightful post and explains the follow/no follow rules really well, in easy to understand english, it was a little funny with the analogies as well 🙂

  39. January 24, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    You have made my day! I didn’t really get the whole follow and no follow but your post made it super easy! Thank you

    • January 24, 2017 / 9:05 pm

      You’re so welcome Jade! It scrambles my brain too until I managed to see it like this.

  40. May 6, 2017 / 10:31 pm

    Well, this has been baffling me for ages! So pleased to read it in terms I understand (i.e.: SHOES)

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