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What are nofollow and dofollow links and why both types are needed for SEO promotion of the site


New link building trends appear every year. However, in this matter it is also important to have a basic understanding of how search engines work, what they require for better ranking and what the standards are for a good link profile. Therefore, in this publication, we will consider what link building is, what types of links there are, how dofollow and nofollow affect the ranking of a site and how to properly increase link weight.

The main tasks of link building

Link building (from the English link (link), building) is a method of obtaining external links (backlinks) to the site. That is, how many times a specific site is mentioned on other web resources.

Link building is an integral part of SEO promotion. It is often given as much attention as the content of the site. Because the link profile of the site has a significant impact on the ranking in Google.

The more links there are to a specific resource, the better its chances are to be at the top of the Google search engine.

There are several types of links:

  • dofollow – a regular open link;

  • nofollow – a link that is closed for scanning by search engines;

  • noindex is a tag used to close certain pages. Content inside this tag will not be crawlable by search engines.

  • sponsored – indicates the presence of advertising on the page;

  • ugc – links in comments and messages on forums, blogs, etc.

We will tell you more about dofollow and nofollow links and their role in SEO promotion.

How Google ranks sites

Ranking is the ordering of search results by relevance. The higher the overall rating of the site, the better the search engine considers this site for the query.

Site ranking criteria:

  • Placement of quality content;

  • Code quality;

  • A domain with a good history;

  • Level of mobile adaptation;

  • Page loading time;

  • External (incoming) links. This factor is difficult to influence, which is why it is so important.

A lot of different factors affect the position of the site - there are dozens of them. For example, protection against viruses and hacker attacks, uninterrupted website hosting , connection of process optimization tools and other technical points are very important.

Read also: How hosting affects the ranking and promotion of the site

But let's return to the topic of our article - links. With external (incoming) links, everything is not so simple. In order for Google's algorithms to perceive a particular resource as one worth trusting, that website must be linked to by other authoritative sites. The topic of the linking site also affects relevance. Links from a page unrelated to the content topic can cause problems.

Both dofollow and nofollow links work well for ranking.

What is reference mass and why is it important

The link mass of the site is very important in Google ranking. Therefore, we cannot forget about her.

Link mass is the entire set of external links that cite and redirect users to the site. That is, when other sites link to the project, it is a signal for search engines that it is being discussed and recommended. This contributes to the development of Google's trust in the site.

In particular, there is such an indicator as DR - domain rating. It consists of a number of factors, but the most important is the quantity and quality of backlinks.

For example, the domain has a fairly high DR — 59. The graph from Ahrefs shows the dynamics of the link profile development (in blue) and the arrival of organic traffic (in orange). You can see that the links appear naturally and gradually, their number changes - this means that the link profile is organic.

Link profile of

But this is what a profile with a "twisted" link weight, which Google does not like, can look like.

Link profile with twisted backlinks Therefore, we immediately want to warn against not quite legal and easy ways of promotion - technically, DR will grow very quickly, but it will still not be able to compete with organics.

Also Read: How to Increase Domain Authority: Checking and Improving DA Score

What is a dofollow link

Dofollow is a common sitelink used by most internet users. A more expansive meaning is open links, which transfer the site's weight to other sites and do not contain additional SEO terms.

The search engine (robot) can go to another site using this link. In this way, the link weight is transferred to another web resource.

In the code of the dofollow page, the link looks like this: < a href="link address">anchor text< /a >, where:

  • < a > — link tag, which includes the link itself, its anchor text and all attributes with instructions for search engines;

  • href is the link attribute that specifies the URL.

Even in the code, we can see that this is a simple link that does not require additional conditions.

Read also: How to find broken links and what are broken site links

What is a nofollow link

Nofollow are closed links that indicate to the search engine that came to crawl the site that these links should not be followed. The robot understands that this link is present only to cite another service, and does not perform any other function.

They are usually used for external links and very rarely for internal links.

The Nofollow code looks like this: < a rel="nofollow" href="link address">anchor text where:

  • < a > — link tag, which includes the link itself, its anchor text and all attributes with instructions for search engines;

  • href — attribute of the link, in which the URL address is specified;

  • rel — an attribute indicating the relationship between the referring page and the linked page;

  • nofollow is the value of the rel attribute, which tells search engines not to follow the link.

Nofollow and Dofollow links play a role - if a page is linked by quality external resources using one of the methods, it will rank higher than a similar page without external links.

dofollow and nofollow links what are they

Why link building requires nofollow links

Nofollow links perform several important functions that ensure better ranking of the resource and its operation:

  • Anti-spam protection - Google has implemented this type to take advantage of spammers who leave links in comments on the site;

  • Priority of robot scanning - the search engine will bypass such links and will not go to them when scanning a web resource.

  • Use of advertising and affiliate links - Google advises sites to mark advertising links with "sponsored" and "nofollow" tags.

  • With the help of nofollow, those links with which the resource does not want to be associated or which are not trusted by Google are closed from the robot.

  • Their use makes the overall picture of links more natural. And it contributes to the development of Google's trust in the resource.

  • If you correctly place nofollow links on external resources on your site, it can contribute to the appearance of dofollow links from ordinary users.


  • Do not abuse nofollow links to cite other resources;

  • Do not choose this type when buying links on donor sites, it will bring much less benefit than dofollow. However, nofollow links from serious sites are also worth getting;

  • Do not use nofollow on internal links that lead to important pages. Or to link from additional resources to the main one.

It is also worth noting that nofollow increases the quality of the link mass. In 2019, Google confirmed that algorithms take nofollow as a hint and can transfer weight to backlinks.

Read also: How to get a domain for free

How to increase backlinks to the site

There are various methods of increasing referral mass:

  1. Internal linking of the site.

  2. Paid links. There are special link exchanges, such as Collaborator or Referr. Buying and selling links is acceptable for Google. This practice does not violate the rules, provided that the attribute rel="nofollow" or rel="sponsored" is specified in the thesis < a > for such links.

  3. Free links. Various ways of getting links fall under this category. For example, users share your resource because they were interested in the content. Or you agreed with other sites of similar topics about cooperation, etc.

The main rule when building link weight is to follow the rules of search engines, in particular Google.

We also advise you to take into account:

  1. Not all donors are suitable for increasing the reference mass. Off-topic, low-quality, or links-only sites can contribute to low-quality links to your site.

  2. You should not quickly increase the number of links to the resource, because this will cause suspicion in search engines. This should be done smoothly, steadily and gradually.

  3. Excessive link sharing is also harmful. Especially if it concerns pages that serve only for the placement of reciprocal links.

  4. Google perceives the use of programs or services for the automated creation of links to the site as spam.

A site's link profile has a significant impact on a site's popularity in search engines. Therefore, link building is no less important component for ranking than quality content. More links to your resource means better positions at the top of the Google search engine. At the same time, as we found out, not only Dofollow, but also nofollow links affect the quality link weight of the site. The latter build trust in search engines, hide citations from robots, are used for advertising and affiliate links, and contribute to the organic appearance of dofollow links.

Also, nofollow links play an equally important role in link mass. Which is very important in Google ranking and the correct gradual increase of it works well for the overall ranking of the site.

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Author: Bohdana Haivoronska

Journalist (since 2003), IT copywriter (since 2013), content marketer at Specializes in articles about technology, creation and promotion of sites.