No-follow vs. Do-follow. What is the Difference?

No matter what point you are in your SEO journey, you will need to know about no-follow and do-follow links, what they mean for your website and the benefits of both. This is because both types of links can affect your websites ranking and link building techniques as you go.

What are the differences between No-follow and Do-follow links?

A Do-follow link has no attached tag which means the search engine crawlers will follow the link, taking some ‘link juice’ with it.

On the other hand, a no-follow link, is a link that has the rel=”nofollow” HTML tag attached to it. This tag signals to search engine crawlers to “not follow” or ignore this link all together. For readers, it makes no difference, the link can be opened like any other, it is the crawlers that are affected.

How do you know the difference?

To any user, the link will look the same as the difference is in the HTML of the link. To find this, left click on the link and select ‘Inspect’ in chrome.

This opens the inspect box on the left which reveals the HTML code of the website. There you can see the link added with the rel=“nofollow” tag added:

Therefore, content creators can determine if they are placing a no-follow or a do-follow link in their content. Although, automatic no-follow links are also attributed to comments, ads and forums.

Benefits of Do-follow and No-follow links

The major drawback of no-follow links is the fact that crawlers will follow the link. This means that the authority of the website where the link is placed, in theory, does not pass any of the authority to your website. Therefore, no-follow links will not improve your websites SEO or add to your website’s authority, so they seem a little pointless?

However, there has been evidence that no-follow links do directly contribute to your website’s SEO and the crawlers have been found to follow these links anyway, even if these are occasional cases.

Do-follow links are where the most benefits are recognised. These links are guaranteed to be followed and indexed by search engine crawlers which means the authority is passed a long to your website. Do-follow links directly impact your SEO and ranking as you build authority and trust through high quality links.

Not sure how to build high quality links? Check out how in our SEO Starter Guide.

Although, do-follow links are preferable, here are benefits of obtaining both no-follow and do-follow links:

  • Gain Traffic from the websites readers and they will follow your links
  • Links from Reputable sources improve your websites authority, send ‘link juice’ and make your content appear as an informative source
  • Other websites may link to your content after seeing it linked from a high authority site
  • Diversifies your link data so your website looks more organic and not ‘spammy’ or using paid techniques

Ultimately, having both types of links are very important for your websites SEO and contribute directly and indirectly to your website’s performance. Whether it be through adding authority, increasing organic back-links and increasing traffic, both links are very valuable to any website.