The importance of links in SEO
From SEO professionals to the mere digital novice, the importance of links as part of any online strategy is abundantly clear. The better the quality of followed links you have, the greater the performance in search engines. But what about those pesky nofollow links you’ve probably heard about? What are they and how do they impact the performance of your website?
Our essential guide to nofollow links provides SEO marketers with the information necessary to fully understand precisely what they are, and the value they play in the online successes of your company.
What is a nofollow?
Put simply, a nofollow link notifies a search engine that you are recommending that its crawlers do not follow that link. Whether it’s because you wish to highlight a link as unimportant to search engines – perhaps to an admin area of your site – sponsored links, or links to content you’re not sure you can trust, the nofollow attribute represents an alternative to updating your robots.txt file in order to control what is and isn’t visible.
Over the years, the nofollow attribute for SEO links has evolved in line with Google’s search algorithm. In the past, it was difficult to prevent the crawl of individual links; only through the introduction of the rel=”nofollow” attribute was the process simplified. Since then, Google has been able to assign no credit (often referred to as ‘link juice’) to nofollow links when calculating search rankings.
Why use a nofollow link?
The benefits of using nofollow links all relate to establishing yourself as a trustworthy and authoritative member of your industry.
For example, while you may feel the need to link your website to another as a point of reference, you may wish to do so in a manner which doesn’t necessarily condone the content you’re referencing. As such, a regular link would be counterproductive, affording the resource with a valuable link. Instead, by utilising the rel=”nofollow” attribute in your reference, you can still direct readers to the necessary page without endorsing the reference to Google.
Similarly, you can limit the links a search engine crawls on your own site so as not to overload the crawl rate on your server. Areas which do not require crawling by search engines – such as registration pages, admin areas, etc. – can be assigned nofollow status, thereby ensuring that those pages with dofollow links are afforded greater priority.
Do nofollow links count as backlinks?
As detailed above, SEO links are essential to the success of your website. It would be easy, therefore, to assume that nofollow links to your site have no value. While it may be true that any link juice or ranking value will not be attributed to incoming nofollow links, the citation value of such a link still has the potential to transform your online success.
You may, for example, be fortunate enough to be assigned a nofollow link from such authoritative websites as the BBC or the Guardian. While a dofollow link would of course be preferable, you can probably expect to achieve a high level of click throughs from such renowned media outlets. The citation value, therefore, is substantial in terms of generating real audience.
Do nofollow links affect rankings?
While there is no direct relationship between nofollow links and page rankings, indirectly there is value in quality nofollow links. Returning to the example above from the BBC or the Guardian, should your website traffic increase through the reference, you may well see these visitors ultimately link to the valuable content you have created. These subsequent links may, in turn, be dofollow links and provide you with valuable ranking value.
Of course, there are a number of ifs, buts, and maybes associated with quality nofollow links, but there is scope for such references to play an important role in the future success of your website.
How to add a nofollow link
When it comes to citing sources whom you wish to add a nofollow link, the process couldn’t be simpler. Add the rel=”nofollow” attribute into your HTML code as follows, and you will be able to provide a citation without passing on link value:
<a href=”domain-name.com” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor text</a>
In certain instances, such as blog comments on WordPress, nofollow is the default setting for any links that are added, eliminating anyone trying to add spam links to valuable content on your website.
Get more help with your SEO
Whitefish Marketing is always happy to provide the SEO advice you need to be successful in search engines. For more information on the nofollow attribute, why not contact our Kent SEO office today, on 01303 720 288? Or simply submit an online enquiry form and we’ll be in touch to discuss all your SEO requirements.