What Are Dofollow And Nofollow Links?

Do Follow Backlinks Sites

Dofollow and nofollow links are attributes that can be added to hyperlinks to tell search engines whether or not to pass link equity from one page to another. 

Dofollow links pass link equity and signal to search engines that the linked page is endorsed. When a page links to another page using a dofollow attribute, it’s essentially “voting” for that page and telling search engines that the page being linked to is credible and relevant. 

Nofollow links do not pass any link equity or value to the linked page. Adding a nofollow attribute essentially tells search engines to ignore that link, so no “vote” is being passed along. This is commonly used for sponsored or paid links to prevent companies from manipulating rankings. 

The dofollow and nofollow attributes are placed directly in the HTML code of a link: `<a href=”page.html” rel=”dofollow”>Anchor Text</a>` 

`<a href=”page.html” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>` 

When search engine crawlers come across these links, they will treat dofollow and nofollow links differently when crawling pages and calculating rankings. Dofollow links pass along link signals like trust and authority, while nofollow links are treated as citations rather than endorsements. 

How Search Engines Use Dofollow And Nofollow Links 

Search engines, especially Google, use links as one of the top ranking factors to determine page relevance and authority. The type of link – dofollow or nofollow – signals how much value and credibility the search engine should give that link. 

Dofollow links pass link equity and anchor text. This means they help to convey the popularity and authority of the linked page to search engines. Sites linking via do follow are essentially vouching for and transferring some of their reputations to the site they link to. 

Nofollow links do not pass any link equity or anchor text. They are like a vote of neutrality, not a vote of confidence. So while nofollow links may demonstrate a topical association between sites, they don’t provide a trust signal or influence search rankings. 

Because of how do follow links can boost rankings, search engines closely monitor link networks and penalize sites trying to build or buy links artificially. Nofollow protects against these penalties. 

Overall, dofollow links are treated as editorial votes of confidence, while nofollow links are treated as more informational references. One dofollow link from a reputable site often has far more SEO value than dozens or hundreds of nofollow links. The trust passed matters more than volume.

When To Use Dofollow Links 

Dofollow links should be used thoughtfully as part of an overall SEO and content strategy. Here are some best practices for getting the most value from dofollow links: 

Use dofollow links to cite relevant sources and add value for readers. Dofollow links to high-quality sites can lend authority and trustworthiness to your content. 

Link internally between related content on your site. This helps search engines better crawl and index your site. 

Link to authoritative, useful resources when referencing facts, quotes, data, etc. Choose sites that align with your content’s topic and tone. 

Link out to complementary but non-competing content that enhances your article. For example, linking to in-depth explainers, how-tos, or glossaries. 

Build relationships with sites you’d like to receive dofollow links from in return. Collaborate on co-created content, interviews, guest posts, etc. 

Place dofollow links thoughtfully within content, such as on keywords and phrases relevant to the target. Avoid over-optimizing or forcing links. 

Assess whether a “nofollow” link would be more suitable if the content you’re linking to is paid, affiliated, risky, or user-generated. 

Use dofollow links sparingly, and focus on quality over quantity. A few authoritative links are more powerful than many weak or irrelevant ones. 

In short, dofollow links should complement your content and provide value for your audience rather than simply being a tactic for rankings. When used appropriately, dofollow links can enhance your site’s reputation and authority within search engines. 

When To Use Nofollow Links 

Nofollow links have several appropriate uses: 

Links to untrusted or user-generated content – Using nofollow links to content you don’t have control over, like blog comments or forum posts, helps prevent spam. This tells search engines not to transfer trust or credit for those pages.

Affiliate or paid links – Search engines recommend using nofollow on links you or another site may profit from, like affiliate links. This helps prevent the manipulation of search rankings and maintains transparency. 

Navigation or legal links – Links in website footers, menus, or policies like terms of service don’t need to pass page credit. Using nofollow helps search engines focus on important content links. 

User-generated content – Any links that didn’t come from the original site author, like in a guest post, should use nofollow to avoid passing unintended page authority or signals. 

Untrusted ad networks – Ad networks without strong quality controls should be nofollowed to prevent low-quality sites from gaining equity or influence through your links. 

Outbound links – Some sites use nofollow on outbound links as a best practice, to ensure internal links retain their value within the site. However, selective use is recommended. 

The key is using nofollow strategically, not on all external links. Use it when a link doesn’t imply an editorial endorsement or to limit risks from user-generated content or other less reputable sources. But allow search engines to follow editorially approved, high-quality links to transfer trust and authority normally. 

Pros and Cons of Dofollow Links 

Dofollow links come with both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the key pros and cons to consider: 


Pass link equity and authority. Dofollow links allow SEO power to be transferred from one site to another, enabling sites to build authority and ranking ability. 

Seen as a “vote of confidence”. Dofollow links signify an endorsement, showing search engines that a site is trusted and recommended. 

Allow sites to grow their domain authority. By gaining dofollow backlinks from reputable sites, you can steadily improve your site’s domain authority. 

Improve rankings and visibility. Quality dofollow links from relevant sites are a strong ranking factor, helping pages perform better in search results. 


Can encourage manipulative linking practices. Some may try to artificially build low-quality dofollow links just to gain SEO benefits. 

More prone to being exploited. Dofollow links are more vulnerable to negative SEO tactics, anchor text spamming, and other manipulative linking tactics. 

Difficult to build high-quality links at scale. Gaining many high-authority dofollow links naturally is challenging and time-intensive for most sites. 

Risk is associated with low-quality sites. Poorly chosen dofollow link partners can damage your site’s reputation. 

So in summary, dofollow links are very powerful for SEO when used properly, but they present some risks that need to be managed. Choosing link partners selectively is key. 

Pros and Cons of Nofollow Links 

Nofollow links have both advantages and disadvantages to consider: 

Pros of Nofollow Links 

Don’t pass link equity or ranking power. This can be beneficial if you don’t want certain links to influence search rankings or allow sites to gain SEO value from your link. 

Prevent spamming. The nofollow attribute was designed to discourage spammers and stop artificial link manipulation. It helps prevent people exploiting your site’s authority and reputation. 

Control overflows of PageRank. Adding nofollow to some outgoing links can help concentrate PageRank internally, rather than having it leak away through every external link on your pages. This keeps more equity within your site. 

No reciprocal linking expectations. Sites are less likely to request a reciprocal link if they know your link won’t pass any equity or ranking power. This reduces unnatural linking solely for SEO. 

Avoid penalties for poor-quality sites. Using nofollow links to low-quality or untrusted sources can prevent your site from being penalized for linking to them. Google may see high nofollow rates as a sign of quality control.

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Cons of Nofollow Links 

Don’t pass SEO value to other sites. If you want to editorially recommend or endorse other high-quality sites through your links, nofollow won’t pass them any benefits.

May be seen as less valuable for users. Some argue regular links provide a better user experience by showing editorial trust and authority. 

Can complicate linking structures. Overuse of nofollow links can make it harder for search engines to fully interpret and map the relationships between pages and sites. 

No PageRank sculpting within your site. As nofollow stops PageRank flow, you can’t use it strategically on internal links to funnel equity to key pages. 

anchor text signals are ignored. Applying nofollow means any anchor text used won’t be read by search engines. This loses an opportunity to indicate relevance with keywords. 

Dofollow vs. Nofollow Links 

Dofollow and nofollow links serve different purposes for websites, so it’s important to understand when each type is appropriate to use. Here’s a direct comparison between the two: 

PageRank Flow- Dofollow links pass PageRank and anchor text value to the site they link to. Nofollow links do not pass any equity or value. 

Trust Signals – Having natural dofollow backlinks from quality sites signals trust and authority to search engines. Nofollow links do not provide trust signals since no equity is passed. 

Link Building- Dofollow links are highly sought after by sites doing SEO link building. Nofollow links do not help with rankings. 

Spam Protection – The nofollow attribute was created to prevent comment spam and excessive linking from low-quality sites. Using nofollow protects sites from being exploited. 

User Experience – Dofollow links provide a better user experience by sending users to useful external resources. Nofollow doesn’t facilitate site navigation. 

Disclosures- Affiliate links and sponsored content should use nofollow to indicate an editorial relationship. Dofollow on affiliated links appears biased. 

Link Value – Dofollow links count as one of the main ranking factors since they pass equity. Nofollow links have no SEO value for rankings or traffic. 

Link-Building Tactics – Aggressive link-building tactics may call for nofollow links. Naturally occurring dofollow links are preferred by Google. 

Understanding when to use dofollow vs. nofollow links is an essential SEO skill. The main distinction is that dofollow links help recipient sites, while nofollow links protect the source site. 

Tools to Check for Dofollow/Nofollow Status

There are a few handy browser extensions and online tools that allow you to easily check the dofollow/nofollow status of links: 

MozBar – This free SEO toolbar by Moz displays dofollow/nofollow attributes directly on links when you hover over them in your browser. It’s available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. 

SEOquake – Another popular SEO browser extension that shows dofollow/nofollow status. It works on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Yandex. 

Screaming Frog SEO Spider – This is a desktop program that crawls websites and exports link data, including dofollow/nofollow attributes. The free version allows up to 500 URLs. 

Ahrefs Site Explorer– A paid SEO tool that provides dofollow/nofollow status when analyzing backlinks to a domain. It offers a 7-day $7 trial. 

Majestic Backlink Analyzer – Another paid backlink analysis tool that includes dofollow/nofollow link metrics. They offer a free trial. 

OpenLinkProfiler- A free backlink checker that displays dofollow/nofollow attributes for a site’s backlinks. Linkody – An online link analysis tool with both free and paid plans that check dofollow/nofollow status. 

These browser extensions and online tools can help examine the dofollow/nofollow attributes of your own or competitors’ links. This allows you to get insights into sites’ link building strategies. 

Common Questions About Dofollow/Nofollow 

Does using nofollow links hurt my SEO? 

Using nofollow links will not directly hurt your SEO. Nofollow links tell search engines not to pass PageRank or anchor text through that link, so they do not confer any SEO benefits. However, they also do not penalize your site. As long as you are building high-quality dofollow links as well, using nofollow links where appropriate will not damage your rankings. 

Should I nofollow all outbound links? 

You do not need to nofollow all outbound links from your site. It’s generally recommended to use nofollow on paid links, user-generated content like comments or forums, and untrusted sites. But normal links to high-quality sites that are relevant for your audience can be left dofollow. 

Do nofollowed links count as backlinks?

While nofollowed links do not pass SEO value, they are still counted and tracked as backlinks to your site. So they will show up when analyzing your domain’s backlink profile. The main difference is their lack of SEO benefits. 

Can I change regular links to nofollow later? 

Yes, you can change existing dofollow links on your site to nofollow at any time. The nofollow attribute can be added through HTML or .htaccess. There is no penalty for changing links to nofollow. Just be aware that PageRank and anchor text benefits will stop being passed once changed. 

Should I use nofollow on internal links? 

Using nofollow on internal links is generally not necessary or helpful. Since internal links remain within your domain, there is no risk of manipulating PageRank or passing equity outside of your site. Internal links with the nofollow attribute will not convey navigation signals for users or search engines. 


Dofollow and nofollow links serve different purposes for websites. Understanding when to use each can help improve your site’s SEO and prevent spam. 

A dofollow link: passes link juice and equity to the linked page. Search engines follow these links and use them to evaluate the importance and authority of pages. Use dofollow links sparingly, when linking to high-quality, relevant resources you trust. 

A nofollow link: does not pass link equity. Search engines ignore nofollow links for page rank calculations. Use nofollow links for untrusted sources, paid links, user-generated content, and affiliate links to prevent spam. 

The main differences: 

Dofollow passes link equity, nofollow does not. Search engines follow dofollow links, and ignore nofollows. 

Dofollow can improve SEO, nofollow prevents spam. 

Use dofollow judiciously for trusted sites, nofollow more freely. 

Understanding when to use dofollow vs nofollow links allows you to strategically control the flow of equity to build authority naturally while preventing spammy links from manipulating results. Use dofollow links as a vote of confidence, and nofollow for untrusted sources or when links are unrelated to your content.

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