Nofollow Links: Good or Bad for SEO?

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This weeks question is “are nofollow links any good for SEO?” Another great question which has been a hot topic in the search industry.

So what is nofollow…

Wikipedia gives this great explanation:

“nofollow is a value that can be assigned to the rel attribute of an HTML a element to instruct some search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index. It is intended to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results and preventing spamdexing from occurring.”

How to a add nofollow to a link…

Typically a link would look like this in HTML:

<a href=””>Dave Cain</a>

The HTML above would produce the following:

Dave Cain

To add the nofollow element to the above link, you would do the following:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Dave Cain</a>

So does it affect rankings…

The short answer is yes.

I tested the theory when I launched After two days of launching the website I started gaining nofollow links to the domain name. After a week of achieving these links (20 nofollow links from trusted domains) I was positioned at the bottom of page one for a fairly competitive term.

My view on nofollow links…

My view on nofollow links is very simple. I like to grade links out of ten, so as an example a dofollow link is worth 10/10 and a nofollow link is worth 5/10. But these figures can change based on the following:

  • Website authority
  • Website trust
  • Website age
  • Page relevance
  • On-page link position

So as an explanation to the above, if you achieved a nofollow link from an authoritative website which is highly trusted by Google, this actually may be worth 7/10. Compare this to a dofollow link from a web directory that has no trust or authority, may only be worth 2/10. So as you can see there are other factors apart from dofollow and nofollow.

Should I target nofollow links…

Absolutely! One of the most important factors with link building is to make your activity look natural. Gaining just dofollow links from similar sources will start to look spammy and unnatural – so grab every link opportunity, dofollow or nofollow, with both hands.

This post was written by , Dave is a digital marketer specialising in SEO and PPC, and can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

12 Responses to “Nofollow Links: Good or Bad for SEO?”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for sharing your findings and thoughts with no-follow links.

  2. Michael says:

    I like that you highlight how you could get more value from a nofollow than a dofollow – nice way to look at it – good article!

    Thinking though – no matter what type of link it is – a good quality, relevent link will always be good for SEO wont it?

    • Dave Cain says:

      Hey Michael – thanks for the comment. I’ve found that some good quality and trusted nofollow links can work better than a dofollow for sure, especially if the source is poor. And what you say is right – a good quality, relevant link is all good for SEO, but the words quality and relevant are the key!

  3. I recently edited Wikipedia and added a link to a clients site for some reputation management goals and it was able to leap frog a negative site. So I agree, rel=nofollow links help, but they have to be from trusted and or relevant sources.

  4. Pali Madra says:

    Thanks Dave for the great posts.

    There does not seem to be an option (which can be found easily) where the user can subscribe to your blog posts or am I missing the obvious?

    Pali Madra

  5. Goodprint says:

    Ignoring nofollow links in a link building campaign is a bad idea. Google is looking for natural links and the majority of natural links are nofollow. Ignoring them in a link building campaign is mistake in my opinion.

  6. Jon says:

    Glad you wrote this. Makes sense really. So hard to win natural follow links anyway, nice to hear that the nofollows can be handy.

    Regarding the comment about directory links – is it worth bothering submitting to any directories these days?

  7. David Wilson says:

    Hmm, an interesting take. I honestly can’t decide if I think no-follow links impact search results. I have never tested just getting no-follow links and then looking at rankings.

    However, that being said I do think that no-follow links are essential to SEO. Google and other search engines are looking for natural link building. It is simply not natural to have 100s of ‘follow’ links without any no-follow links.

    Also, no-follow links can be used to drive relevant traffic to your site which is, of course, the reason for SEO in the first place.

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