ABC’s of SEO: N is for No-Follow
No-followed links are sometimes seen as worthless for SEO. We need authoritative, keyword-rich inbound links at all times, and a link which does not pass any link equity or “juice” is often considered inconsequential. This post explores the role of the no-followed link and why marketers are foolish to disregard them.
No-follow is an attribute that can be assigned to a link, which instructs search engines that the hyperlink should not contribute towards page authority and rankings. No-followed links are the easiest to get; the type of links you can submit manually in the form of a forum post, blog or social network status update or share. No-follow is often used to preserve authority, or “link juice” on a website.
As social media plays an increasingly important role in ranking search results, isn’t it about time we stopped seeing no-followed links as invaluable and started to understand their power? Tweeting a URL is a great way of getting content indexed quickly, and social signals are playing an increasingly important part in ranking search results.
If applied to digital marketing more broadly, no-followed links are not a waste of time providing no value – they can, in the form of answers to questions or engaging commenting on forums or blog posts, be a great source of traffic, sales, engagement and more. Digital marketers are one-dimensional if they don’t understand the importance of no-followed links. In terms of SEO it’s also important to keep a natural-looking link profile; a link profile which only contains followed, keyword-rich links is likely to be seen as suspicious.
Some webmasters have used the no-follow tag on internal links on their site, in an attempt to build page rank authority or link equity on specific pages. As Matt Cutts explains in this fairly recent video, page rank can’t be sculpted through applying the no-follow tag to internal links. The conclusion is that it is best to let the link juice flow.
The best times to use no-followed links onsite is when you link out to an external site which you don’t necessarily trust. Linking out to low quality domains can damage domain authority so applying a no-follow tag can protect a site from experiencing any detrimental effects. Remember that many of the best and most well-performing websites out there are “hub sites”, which link out to many different sources of information. Linking out with real, followed links is no bad thing for SEO. Tad Chef wrote this great piece on the SEOptimise blog about how to link out for SEO benefit.