Backlinks play a vital role in improving a website’s search engine ranking. They imply to search engines that other websites consider your content to be valuable and relevant. However, not all backlinks are equal. Some links are marked as nofollow, which means that they do not pass any authority or link juice to the website they link to. In this article, we will delve deeper into nofollow backlinks and explore what they are, why they exist, and how they work.
What are Nofollow Backlinks?
A nofollow backlink is a hyperlink that contains the rel=”nofollow” attribute in its HTML code. This attribute is a directive for search engines not to follow or crawl the link, nor to pass any authority or PageRank to the website it links to. Nofollow links were introduced in 2005 by Google to combat spammy link building practices that were prevalent at the time. By designating links as nofollow, webmasters could indicate to search engines that they were not endorsing the linked site, and prevent spammy links from manipulating search engine rankings.
Why Use Nofollow Backlinks?
There are several reasons why webmasters may choose to use nofollow backlinks. First, as mentioned earlier, they are useful in combating spammy link building practices. By using nofollow links, webmasters can avoid linking to low-quality or spammy websites, which can harm their own site’s reputation. Second, nofollow links can be used to manage link equity. For example, if a website has too many outbound links, it can use nofollow links to ensure that the most important pages receive the most link equity. Finally, nofollow links can be used to comply with advertising and sponsored content guidelines, as search engines require all sponsored links to be marked as nofollow.
How Do Nofollow Backlinks Work?
When a search engine crawler encounters a nofollow link, it does not follow the link or pass any authority or PageRank to the linked site. The link is essentially ignored, and the linked site does not receive any benefit from the link. However, it is important to note that nofollow links can still drive traffic to a website, as users may still click on the link and visit the linked site. Therefore, while nofollow links do not directly contribute to a site’s search engine ranking, they can still have value in terms of referral traffic.
When Should You Use Nofollow Backlinks?
Nofollow backlinks should be used in situations where you do not want to endorse or pass authority to the linked site. For example, if you are linking to a low-quality or spammy website, it is best to use a nofollow link to avoid harming your own site’s reputation. Similarly, if you are linking to a sponsored or advertising content, you should mark the link as nofollow to comply with search engine guidelines. However, it is important to note that nofollow links should not be overused, as having too many nofollow links can appear unnatural and harm a site’s search engine ranking.
How to Identify Nofollow Backlinks
Identifying nofollow backlinks is relatively straightforward. All you need to do is view the source code of the webpage and look for the rel=”nofollow” attribute in the HTML code of the link. Alternatively, you can use a backlink analysis tool to analyze the links pointing to your website and identify any nofollow links. Some popular backlink analysis tools include Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush.
The Pros and Cons of Nofollow Backlinks
Like any SEO tactic, nofollow backlinks have their pros and cons. The main advantage of nofollow links is that they can help prevent spammy link building practices and ensure that websites are only linking to high-quality, relevant content. They can also be useful in managing link equity and complying with advertising guidelines. On the other hand, the main disadvantage of nofollow links is that they do not directly contribute to a site’s search engine ranking. This means that if a website relies solely on nofollow links, it may struggle to rank well in search engine results pages. Additionally, having too many nofollow links can appear unnatural and harm a site’s overall link profile.
The Future of Nofollow Backlinks
In September 2019, Google announced that it would be treating nofollow links differently by using them as “hints” rather than directives. This means that while nofollow links will still not pass authority or PageRank, Google may use them as a signal to understand the context of a page and its relevance to a particular search query. This change reflects Google’s increasing emphasis on understanding the intent behind search queries and providing the most relevant results for users. It also highlights the continued importance of high-quality, relevant content in SEO.
Nofollow backlinks are an important tool in the SEO toolkit. They can be used to combat spammy link building practices, manage link equity, and comply with advertising guidelines. While nofollow links do not directly contribute to a site’s search engine ranking like dofollow backlinks do, they can still have value in terms of referral traffic. It is important to use nofollow links judiciously and to ensure that they are balanced with follow links to create a natural and diverse link profile. With Google’s changing treatment of nofollow links, it is clear that high-quality, relevant content will continue to be the key to successful SEO.