23 Apr 2008

NoFollow vs. DoFollow – Should You Care?

There’s a pretty big debate being waged on websites today between the “no follow” link contingent and the “do follow” advocates. Which side of the camp are you on? Maybe you haven’t decided because you really aren’t sure how each type of link works.

No follow links were first developed by Google as a way to control spam links on blogs and other sites. There was a valid complaint that many legitimate sites were being penalized if they had a large number of links to other sites with little or no value. By adding the no follow tag to any links (rel=“nofollow”), blog publishers and forum owners were provided a tool to prevent spammers from posting endless useless comments simply to get a free link back to a site that you might not want to be associated with.

A “no follow” link gives Google and other major search engines specific instructions. When a “no follow” code is part of a link, the theory goes that Google will NOT follow the link to the other page and it will NOT include the link when calculating Page Rank for your web page.

On the other hand, it’s nice to share some link juice with those who take the time to comment on your blog, sign your guest book or otherwise contribute something of value to your site. After all, wouldn’t you like them to return the favor to you some day?

As a link builder, we often get requests to find only “do follow” links for our clients.  But should they really insist on that?  Should you count the ratio of no follow to do follow links to your site (or from your site) to try and figure out the perfect balance?

Three Good Reasons Not to Care

In our opinion, you really don’t need to worry too much about ratios or link counts. Here are three good reasons why:

1. The search engines expect to see a balance of “no follow” and “do follow” links to your site. What those exact ratios are can be debated, but it is clear that you should not be trying to get every link to your site as a “do follow”.

2. We haven’t seen any concrete proof that the three major search engines aren’t passing some link juice through “no follows”. In fact, we have seen some pretty good articles indicating that they feel they received some good link love from “no follow” links from authority sites.

3. Focus on getting links for traffic and you won’t have to worry about it at all.  This is often lost with link builders. So much emphasis is placed on getting link juice for search engine rankings, that many forget that the best links of all bring real traffic to your site. If you get a link that sends you meaningful traffic, do you really care if it is “no follow” or “do follow”?

It all boils down to common sense – a balance of inbound links will generally do more to help your site when compared to concentrating on one method of link building. When in doubt, if it’s a quality site that wants to link to you, take the link, whether it is “do follow” or “no follow”.

[tags] no follow, do follow, link building [/tags]


  • Julia from Fast Blog Finder Apr 24, 2008

    Thank you for the informative article. I have a blog promoting link building software and I was often asked by my customers whether it is worth to spend time to “nofollow” links. In order not give a proofless answer, I did a case study to find our if “nofollow” links help.

    I managed to get a dozen of “nofollow” links and looked if my website position had changed somehow in Google, MSN and Yahoo. I noticed NO changes. I came to the conclusion that the search engines behaved as so those links didn’t exist at all.

    Then I got a dozen of “dofollow” links and immediately my website got the top position in those three search engines. So, “dofollow” links really count.

    Despite of the results of my case study, I always suggest people not to ignore “nofollow” links. As you wrote there must be “a balance of inbound links”.

  • SEO Bedrijven Apr 24, 2008

    Basic incentive for getting links is good content followed and no followed. Traffic is the goal. So Id on’t really care about the follow/no follow business. I only care because Google made it an issue.

  • Brandon Apr 28, 2008

    That was good. I was trying to find the answer to this. Thank you.

  • Eric Apr 29, 2008

    Much as I love the do follow links, I don’t pay any attention to which is which when I comment on a site. The link building will happen however it happens.

    The sites that I manage all practice do follow. I either use a tight set of anti-spam rules and/or moderate all comments. If someone can manage to leave an additive comment they deserve the link.

    I do commenting for traffic building and to be part of the conversation on interesting blogs because it makes the whole internet marketing game more fun. The link building is a nice side benefit.

  • BJ May 01, 2008

    do follow dont follow, still on the fence

  • Laveranus May 05, 2008

    The no-follow tag I found out doesn’t always work. A friend of mine is an SEO and has tested backlinks and some no-followed links are actually passing in Google. Of course most aren’t but its interesting to notice.

  • Pedro May 05, 2008

    I have yet to see any added benefit of having nofollow on outbound links from my site. Neither the toolbar PR or the site’s rankings in search experienced any notable increase during my experimentations with this attribute.

  • Sonal May 17, 2008

    It is solve my general query about ” nofollow – dofollow”. But it is complete when you show also an example of this. I think this will be easier for a newbie.

  • PC Sport Live Jun 04, 2008

    I think the majority of people are just trying to gain exposure for their site rather than boost page rank. However soem people like to show off their page rank because it makes them feel better.

  • Xocai Jun 12, 2008

    My understanding was that google does not attribute much value to them, but Yahoo and MSN do.

  • Nate Nead Jun 26, 2008

    I’m just really learning about nofollow vs. dofollow. Thanks for this article. It was informative. After reading it sounds like you shouldn’t worry about nofollow vs. dofollow and just continue commenting and exchanging links. Great stuff.

  • wilson Aug 12, 2008

    Google will always show the lesser backlinks, if it compare with the Yahoo and MSN…

    By the way, thanks for the wonderful post and it did help me to understand the different between dofollow and nofollow links.

  • Filipino blogger Sep 22, 2008

    thanks for sharing you knowledge.

  • Foxster Sep 28, 2008

    I’m currently waffling between using a nofollow plugin or not. It seems right to reward commenters, but I’m just worried about spending time screening spam. Although Akismet seems to do a pretty darn good job of catching most stuff.

  • Marijuana Art Nov 05, 2008

    spamming is one thing but as my man said above it does seem right to reward commenters.

  • John Jan 02, 2009

    A good tool to find nofollow websites is http://www.followtopia.com . They have an index as large as yahoo’s, and let you know if the results have the no follow tag.

    Optimize away.

  • Website Design Valencia Feb 10, 2009

    Really interesting subject and balanced article. I’ve got the default “nofollow” on my blog but am increasingly tempted to change to dofollow. But then I believe you need hardcore culling policies – I wouldn’t want dofollow to non-webdev-related sites because they’re just not related. Also you end up with stupid names like the one I used above, (I hope you like it). Normally I don’t do that even on dofollow pages because it does look a little silly, but today I thought I’d slip it in because it demonstrates the point :-).

  • Hockey Jerseys Feb 19, 2009

    How about links without any tag (nofollow nor dofollow)?

    This article does give a good point, though.

  • AD Web Design Mar 16, 2009

    Thanks for the article, it's food for thought – like you say a balanced approach is probably the best bet, and will mean that you won't be triggering any filters that exist to check for too high a ratio of dofollows.

  • Matt Inertia Mar 18, 2009

    Exactly, links that bring traffic should be the number one priority but then there are lots of SEOs out there who are struggling with sites which dont have good content. For them, finding juicy links is one of the few things they can do (as well as content creation).

  • Chris @ Laptop Deals Apr 11, 2009

    This article is a little old but after reading it I'm falling in love with whoever wrote it. It seems to me that seo is afraid of the nofollow tags and try and stay away from it. As you said, search engines expect to see a ratio between 'nofollow' and 'dofollow' links and if the majority of your website is linked by 'dofollows', then well, isn't that suspicious activities. I'd said it once and I'll say it again, search engines can be manipulated, but google isn't stupid.

    Thanks for the article, I loved it.

  • Justin Apr 17, 2009

    I am trying to increase my backlink manually through guestbooks. Notice quite a number of the sites are nofollow type. I will monitor and report back if I have concrete data to show if nofollow is really not useful. I am not targeting thousands of BL, so, should be able to manage. Wish me all the luck.

  • Fred G Apr 22, 2009

    Sorry for my ignorance, but how can you tell if a blog has a no follow tag or a do follow tag?

  • The Flex Person Apr 30, 2009

    Any link is still a link, so I believe in terms of traffic it is hugely advisable to make your presence in the web by any means available. If these count, then good, but if they don't, it's not that big a deal and won't prevent me from posting a comment whenever I feel like doing so.

  • Tap Dance Instructors May 15, 2009

    I think no follow and do follow are both good. It always depend on blog owners. What do you think?

  • David Allen @ Wolverhampton Computer help Jun 10, 2009

    I’m not a fan of spammers. I feel if your going to link to your site from someones blog at least have the respect to read there article and add a related comment.
    I’ve only known about dofollow blogs for a couple of weeks and i have enjoyed reading peoples views on a range of subjects and it benefiting my site at the same time.

    I’m strongly thinking about setting my own blog up.

  • child health club Jun 24, 2009

    hi every one so many of them try to send No follows that is no use …please try to avoid…

  • Jody Jul 10, 2009

    This answered a lot of questions I’ve had regarding the exact behavior of nofollow attributes, and kudos for posting it! I find it interesting that some comments on this post have nofollow on the names while others don’t, though. Why is that? I have a nofollow highlight in my Firefox user CSS, and I see that some names haven’t been nofollowed. I’m curious.

  • arniek Jul 10, 2009

    We have a plug in on our blog that rewards active users with a “do follow” link. After you have your 2nd comment approved, your links will become dofollow.

  • SEO David Sep 10, 2009

    Hi Arnie.

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog post. I think your words at the end of this post say it all: common sense. But people often get too wrapped up in Google’s algorithm to do link-building based on common sense.

  • Ecommerce store website Sep 14, 2009

    Great informative post, getting both nofollow and dofollow links makes your link profile looks natural, and both is great for human traffic.

  • SEO Rabbit Sep 14, 2009

    Links were made to transfer people from one html document to another… Sounds simple because it is. First quality of a link we should search for is the traffic it might bring.

  • Josh @iDTech Oct 29, 2009

    @Arnie and David,

    Common sense aside, google is constantly changing their algorithm. Good business for SEO!

  • ConcertVienna Jan 02, 2010

    Dear Eric,

    what about trying to get a link from Wikipedia? is it worth the effort?

  • Web hosting sites Mar 13, 2010

    Thanks sir for this article.I go0gled for do follow vs no follow and got your article.Pretty good article this is.Regards :)

  • SpaRn Mar 14, 2010

    Spam, spam, spam… all about spam. But I’m a real man. And I can’t leave my url in comments. It’s not good for me, but what can I do?..
    P.S. Taking your url to bookmarks. Like it.

  • Richard May 15, 2010

    Wouldn't it be nice not to worry about all that mess and just write post and let the search engines sort out where it all goes? The system is bent because of all the blackhat garbage. Too bad. Good writers should just be able to write, post and forget. LOL. Good luck bloggers. Thanks for the good article on nofollows vs. follows.

  • Bit Doze May 15, 2010

    I think that dofollow is most important, but you also need to have nofollow links so that the search engines sees that you are most natural. So in order to have high PR you have to be as natural as possible.

  • social bookmarking Jul 24, 2010

    Dofollow vs. nofollow is still a big debate. I am not sure why this is, because there is overwhelming evidence that the links count regardless. I believe that the only difference is the fact that the bots may not follow your link back to your site. So, I am adding a fourth reason to your list. If your site has enough traffic on its own, you don't need to worry about the search engines finding your site. In this case the difference between dofollow and nofollow is negligible.

  • Las Vegas valley realty Sep 08, 2010

    Nice article. I was wondering if google counts nofollow links still or not. If they do, what's the point of having nofollow in the first place?

  • Scalar Sep 21, 2010

    I fully agree. I've gained numerous no follow links that are definitely helping me rank for some competitive keywords. I do feel do-follow does give more love but I feel its more relevant to whether the do follow is coming from a relevant content source from where the link is being passed onto. In those cases I feel its gold, otherwise I'm not sure how much difference there really is.

  • Robin Dally Sep 27, 2010

    A good bit of common sense here, I am currently doing a bit of research myself to see if no-follow links, still send a bit of love. Will let you know what my findings are.

  • Matthew Dec 10, 2010

    Something that I was asking myself… can I improve my SE traffic with nofollow links… I did some research over yahoo site explorer and I was shocked how many sites got on first place in Google using nofollow links… I guess that those DoFollow links works only for PR but who cares about that :)

  • Corporate apartments Vancouver Jan 10, 2011

    Traffic is the goal. So Id on’t really care about the follow/no follow business. I only care because Google made it an issue.I suggest that dofollow is good for ranking on Google other nofollow is not bad.

  • Adrian Jan 14, 2011

    I use both do-follow and no-follow links for sites, in fact some of the no follow links have provided. Take wikipedia for example, the links are no-follow, but wikipedia often ranks top or near top for relevant searches and people will often scroll down and look at external links for official pages and such.

    If you site has some value or you are actively do stuff on the wikipedia article to make it better, then chances are your link won’t be deleted.

    There are other big sites that offer the same and I have developed sites where a vast proportion of the traffic came from these no-follow links.

    Remember traffic is the name of the game, better to have a poor ranking and lots of traffic, then a high ranking for poorly searched keywords and no traffic.

  • Mysoft101 Mar 08, 2011

    Saw this post talking about dofollow and thought you would like to know about a new site, Wiki Dofollow. It is a community compiled list of high ranking dofollow sites. That way, the list stays current.

  • Joseph Hanson May 30, 2011

    I’ve been trying to do SEO on my own sites, because the truth is that you just can’t get around it. you have to do SEO. but I was always under the impression that no-follow links couldn’t help you at all, but I guess that is not entirely true, and that is good to know. thanks for the article it cleared some stuff up for me.