What Are Dofollow Links? (+ Should You Care About Them For SEO?)
Backlinks are the currency of the SEO world: the more a website has, the better off they generally are in terms of appearing at the top of search engine results.
But not all links are created equal. Some are very valuable for driving your website to the top spot for relevant search terms, some don’t make an impact at all, and others can actually damage your rankings.
In order for a backlink to impact Google’s ranking, it must be a dofollow link. These are links with a dofollow tag that lets Google’s bots know they should be considered when determining a website’s rankings.
Let’s dive into everything you need to know about dofollow links.
What Are Dofollow Links?
To understand what dofollow links are, it helps to first have a good handle on what backlinks are and how they function from Google’s perspective and the point of view of marketers.
Backlinks are familiar to anyone who’s ever been online. They’re the hyperlinks that you come across that can be clicked to navigate to another page or website. Any text can be used to create a backlink. Google recognizes that these mentions are valuable, in that they indicate the website being linked to must have some value. If other websites are choosing to mention and link to it, the contents of that page or site must be interesting and relevant.
This is the idea behind Google’s PageRank algorithm, which takes into account the number and quality of backlinks pointing to a page to determine where it should appear in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Marketers refer to the positive effect of these links as link equity or link juice.
Sometimes, however, there are cases where link juice shouldn’t flow to a website. Google only wants to reward authentic mentions, not ones that a website has bought or otherwise inauthentically received. Their algorithm is also very good at sniffing out these inauthentic mentions. To give website owners a way to indicate whether a backlink should be used as a PageRank ranking factor or not, the distinction between dofollow and nofollow links was created.
Dofollow links are links that Google’s bots crawl and use in their calculation of a webpage’s ranking. These are the links that marketers most value and try to obtain through their link-building efforts. Dofollow links can be built in many different ways, but it’s key to remember that when it comes to backlinks and SEO, dofollow links are generally what marketers aim to get more of.
Dofollow Links and SEO
It’s very difficult to climb the top of Google’s SERPs without plenty of high-quality dofollow links. Nofollow links do play a part in just about every successful SEO strategy since they are the natural result of things like sponsored posts and gifting campaigns, but if all your business has is nofollow links, Google won’t get a strong signal that your website is genuinely interesting to audiences and that people would talk about it if they weren’t incentivized by sponsorships or gifts.
In short, dofollow links are best for SEO because they appear to be organic indicators of an audience’s general interest in a webpage.
Dofollow links vs. nofollow links
The nofollow attribute was added by Google in response to marketers trying to manipulate search engine results with inauthentic backlinks. One of the most common ways of getting a large number of backlinks was by mentioning your own website in forums and blog comments. These mentions, even if numerous, were of course no indication that the website deserved to be at the top of Google’s search results.
The nofollow tag now automatically applies to certain spammy mentions such as those in comment sections, and website owners can apply it to links that they don’t want Google to follow. It protects websites from getting punished for inorganic link building, while still allowing them to use backlinks wherever they please safely.
Dofollow links are, evidently, far more valuable from an SEO perspective. However, nofollow links are very normal and make up part of the backlink profile for just about any successful website out there. You don’t have to worry about having nofollow links pointing to your website, but if SEO success is your goal, your efforts should be focused on building lots of high-quality dofollow links.
Benefits of Dofollow Links
Dofollow links are the bread and butter of a successful SEO strategy. The more you can get from reputable websites in your industry, the more you’re likely to see your website climb the rankings and, if you’re lucky, reach the top spot.
Here are a few reasons you need to be focused on obtaining those juicy dofollow links.
Improve your PageRank and SiteRank scores
PageRank and SiteRank are internal rankings at Google that determine how well a webpage will perform against competitors in its search results. While it isn’t the only factor determining SERP performance, there’s no denying that it’s a very important one.
Get more traffic
Sure, there’s a feel-good buzz from seeing your website climb the rankings. But the real benefit of doing so is that appearing at the top of Google’s search results can meaningfully impact traffic to your site. More traffic means more conversions and a healthier bottom line. This makes all the effort and investment in SEO well worth it.
Establish the trustworthiness of your site
If people are talking about your content, it indicates both to Google and to your audience that you have something of value to offer and that you can be trusted.
In addition to PageRank, Google has another algorithm called E-A-T, standing for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. It isn’t entirely clear how E-A-T ranking interacts with PageRank, but it does likely play a role in Google search results. Insofar as having lots of dofollow links signals all of the qualities captured in the E-A-T acronym, your rankings should get an extra boost.
Index your site
When a new website or webpage is created, it must first be crawled by Google’s bots in order to be indexed and appear in Google search results. If it isn’t indexed, it can’t appear in the results, no matter how wonderful it is. Google’s bots “discover” new websites and pages by crawling backlinks. These links can be on other websites or even internal links on your own website.
Dofollow Link Best Practices
There’s no doubt that dofollow links are well worth pursuing as part of your SEO strategy. However, it’s important to go about building them the right way. Failing to do so can damage your website’s reputation. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with strategies for how to build more dofollow backlinks the right way, without risking getting dinged by Google in the process.
Ensure the tag is used correctly
If a backlink pointing to your site should have a nofollow tag, ensure the website owner applies the tag.
For example, if you sent a product to a blogger for review, any backlinks they create as a result should be nofollow tags. It may be tempting to ask them to create dofollow tags, but if Google’s algorithm identifies the post as sponsored or the result of gifting, your account may be flagged.
A mix of backlinks is normal
Don’t worry about having all of your backlinks be dofollow links. In the process of building dofollow links, you’ll get some nofollow links as well. This is normal and expected in any backlink profile.
Mix up the keywords
It used to be common practice to stuff keywords into dofollow backlinks, thinking this would help a website rank for those keywords. Today, that’s seen as keyword stuffing and is discouraged.
Instead, your backlinks should use a wide variety of text. This makes them appear as natural as possible: if people are organically discussing your content, it makes sense that they should use a variety of text when linking back to your site.
Conversely, if you went out and bought a bunch of links requesting a few keywords to be used as the backlink text, this would look suspicious.
Conduct backlink audits
Maybe you engaged in some sketchy link-building practices in the past, or perhaps you were the victim of a third-party attack to create bad backlinks in an effort to damage your site rankings.
Either way, it’s a good idea to regularly conduct link audits to identify if any links might be damaging your rankings. For example, there may be dofollow links that should be nofollow links. With an audit, you can spot the issue and request the removal of those links.
Create quality content
What article on the subject of SEO is complete without uttering those three little words… content is king.
If you want to get plenty of high-quality dofollow links, creating awesome content that people want to consume and share is the way to do it. Yes, creating great content is difficult and time-consuming, but it remains an important best practice for SEO success.
Podcast or get interviewed
Since so many SEO link-building techniques take quite a bit of time, this tip is a welcome exception. Going on podcasts is relatively low effort since your host will be guiding the conversation. You’ll get a dofollow link in their podcast episode description, and you can potentially get even more if people discuss your interview.
Claim broken links
Another way to get dofollow links from quality websites is to replace the broken links on their site. Broken links can make a website look poorly maintained, so website owners are always happy to have those links pointed out so that they can replace them. If you identify a broken link in your niche, you can create content that can replace it or possibly identify appropriate content that you already have created.
Then, just email the webmaster, point out the broken link, and offer up your shiny new link as a replacement. Hopefully, they’ll be grateful and use your link.
You can use this free broken link checker for your research.
Dofollow links indicate to Google that your website has content that is of value to audiences and that it deserves to be discoverable in Google search results. They take time to build, but form the basis of any successful SEO campaign.
Need a little help in the SEO department? Loganix can help you get more valuable dofollow links on high-authority websites, develop content that is worthy of organic mentions, and build an SEO plan that can help you reach your goals. Let’s work together to climb those SERPs.