In certain circles, especially among those who are into search engine optimisation (SEO), the terms dofollow and nofollow often come up. If you are new to building and/or promoting websites, you probably have no clue what this refers to. But if you seriously want your site to get maximum visibility, you need to be aware of what these terms mean.
What is DoFollow and NoFollow?
The terms dofollow and nofollow refer to either links or sites. It is really links that are properly nofollow or dofollow. Websites are said to be dofollow or nofollow depending on the type of links they allow. I’ll explain this some more, but let us first understand what a nofollow link is.
As just about everyone knows, a link is basically some text that is encapsulated in certain html code which tells what the text links to. Now the html code allows some attributes to be set, one of which is nofollow. Specifying nofollow for a link basically is a message for search engines, to inform them that they should not use this link to affect the ranking of the target site. You see, a page’s ranking in the search results is to a large extent dependent on the external links which point to that site. So when you create a nofollow link to some site X, you in effect prevent site X from getting any benefit in the search results.
Note that specifying nofollow has no effect on a user’s experience in clicking on the link. Also, some search engines take nofollow literally, and do not even follow the target of the link when it does it’s crawling. However, others might indeed follow the target, but will just not let this link count towards a site’s page rank. So it is still possible to get your site indexed (that is, to be recognised by the search engine) with a nofollow link to your site.
Now that you understand nofollow, perhaps you can guess what dofollow means. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, understand that there is no attribute or tag in the html code that specifies dofollow. What we refer to as dofollow links, are simply links that do not carry the nofollow attribute or tag. Dofollow is simply a term to refer to the opposite of the effect of nofollow. In other words, if a link is said to be dofollow, then it means that the target will benefit in how the search engines rank their results. Therefore, the more dofollow links pointed to your site, the better your site will rank in the search engine’s results. For eg. with adding enough dofollowlinks, you could move from page 20 in the google results to page 1.
With the above in mind, a site is considered dofollow if it allows you to contribute to the site, whether through comments or otherwise, without making your links nofollow. And conversely, a nofollow site is simply a site that makes the links you post nofollow. Sometimes sites might make certain sections dofollow while leaving some as nofollow.
One of the first questions that might come to mind when encountering the concept of nofollow, is why would anyone want to do this? You would think that if you’re going to refer to another site, it is only fair to give that site the benefit of improved search rankings. Well one of the intentions of this html specification for links, was to reduce the amount of spam that plagues sites, especially blogs. Blogs generally allow readers to post comments where one is generally allowed to include a link. Spammers have taken advantage of this to build their backlinks to improve their standing in the search engines’ results pages. So this is one of the reasons why blogs now by default tend to make the links in comments nofollow.
Another reason for the introduction of the nofollow attribute, is to prevent your reputation to be passed to questionable sites. If you link to such a site without the nofollow, you are in effect saying that you approve of that site. This can have adverse effects on you, as Google for example frowns on such sites, and may penalise your own site. This is another reason why blogs make comments nofollow by default. There can also be times when you want to expose a scam site and provide a link to it to demonstrate a point. However, you wouldn’t want to be passing your reputation to it in this case, so this would be a good time you would want the use of nofollow.
Aside from the purposes behind nofollow, SEO experts have promoted another use for it. There is a theory that suggests that the number of outbound dofollow links on a page reduces the power of that page to affect the ranking of other pages it might link to. This link power might be better served in promoting other internal pages of your site. Whether or not this is true, the fact is, that people believe it. Therefore, SEO experts have advised on keeping the number of non nofollow (or dofollow) links to a minimum.
Another reason one might use the nofollow is to be able to link to one who might be a competitor, without lending weight to the competitor’s page rank.
Since dofollow invites spam, and could weaken your page’s link power, then why do it at all for external sites?Â Well there are a number of reasons one might want to do this. One good one, is that while it invites spam, it also encourages comments on your site. Comments can be good in that they add content, and they indicate that your blog is active and visible, which encourages your readers to come back and participate. Since you have control of which comments get posted, you can simply ignore the spam, and only allow those which add value to your site.
Another reason to go with dofollow, is that it indicates goodwill. When people recognise that you’re giving credit where it is due, they will more likely reciprocate and give you dofollow backlinks. Also, since people are constantly trying to build their dofollow resource list, you will tend to get linked to more often. Even though a number of these links will be nofollow, you’re still benefiting since these are still links that can bring you direct traffic. In short, dofollow will tend to increase your web traffic.
In my next post I will explain how to check for nofollow or dofollow. And in another post, I will provide a resource page for dofollow sites.
- How to Check For NoFollow/DoFollow
- Building Web Traffic -Getting backlinks
- Building Web Traffic -the importance of incoming links
- Avoiding Duplicate Content
- Unique Web Traffic To Your Website -You can get it!