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Aside from content marketing, link building is the next most important building block for a brand’s search engine optimization campaign. However, not all links are the same. There are two different types of links; “dofollow” links and “nofollow” links. What are the primary differences between the two?

Google sees websites with the most backlinks from external websites as being the most popular. With every backlink that points to your website, Google sees this as a vote or recommendation from the website linking to it. Links from websites with high domain authority are counted with the most weight and help increase a website’s overall domain authority. As your website's domain authority increases, your website’s ability to rank for it’s targeted keywords greatly increases as well. However, only dofollow backlinks will help increase a website’s domain authority.

A dofollow link is a link that passes link juice to from one website to another, thus, helping improve a website’s search engine ranking. How can a website owner distinguish between a dofollow and nofollow link? One step you can take is to install the “Nofollow Extension” if you’re using Google Chrome as your web browser. The nofollow extension will highlight all nofollow links on a page in red. Dofollow links will not be highlighted.

Nofollow links, on the other hand, are links that do not pass link juice from one website to another and are often much easier to build. Common nofollow links include links from blog commenting systems (Disqus, LiveFyre), Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, etc. The nofollow attribute was created by Google’s Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen back in 2005. Nofollow works to prevent spammer’s from manipulating Google’s search index. By default, all links are dofollow links unless manually assigned a nofollow attribute.

It’s commonly said that the best links are the links that you can’t build on your own. In other words, website owners should strive to create content that other people want to link to. And when your content is so good that readers are building backlinks for you, you’re bound to organically inherit more dofollow links. Backlinks from popular news websites like CNN, Fox News or the Drudge Report will provide an incredible boost for your website’s search engine rankings. Establishing links on those authoritative websites is not something just anyone can build manually. As a website owner, you shouldn't get too caught up in dofollow and nofollow attributes when building backlinks to your website. Your link building campaigns should be natural and the best places to begin building backlinks are through your social media channels followed by the important local citation listings.

Assigning the nofollow attribute to links becomes important if you’re a website owner that dabbles in affiliate marketing. All outgoing affiliate links should be marked as nofollow because Google will otherwise see them as paid links. If your website also offers a community forum where anyone can create an account and post messages, the nofollow attribute will also need to be implemented. Building nofollow backlinks to your website is not always a waste. If you build nofollow backlinks on other websites that will drive targeted referral traffic to your website, you’re going to see a great return. Plus, the search engines would be able to detect if you were only building dofollow backlinks to your website. Building only dofollow backlinks looks unnatural and can easily get your website penalized.

Are you a small business owner in Nashville, Tennessee that needs help building an authoritative link profile to your business website? John Mann SEO Consulting is a Nashville SEO company specializing in search engine optimization, social media marketing, content marketing and email marketing consulting. To schedule your free consultation, give us a call at 615-491-9819 or complete our inquiry contact form.