What is the difference between follow and no follow backlinks?

Pro Search

The main difference between follow (dofollow) and no follow backlinks lies in how they are treated by search engines like Google for ranking purposes.

Follow (Dofollow) Backlinks

  • Follow or dofollow backlinks pass on "link juice" or ranking power from the linking website to the linked website.
  • They indicate to search engines that the linking site endorses and vouches for the quality of the linked content.
  • Dofollow links help increase the linked page's PageRank and can positively impact its search engine rankings for relevant keywords.
  • By default, all hyperlinks are follow links unless specified otherwise with the rel="nofollow" attribute.

No Follow Backlinks

  • No follow links have the rel="nofollow" HTML tag which instructs search engines not to pass on any link equity or ranking power to the linked page.
  • They do not directly help with the linked page's rankings in search engines.
  • No follow links are commonly used for user-generated content like blog comments, paid links/ads, and any links that should not be endorsed for search ranking purposes.
  • Despite not directly helping SEO, no follow links can still drive referral traffic to the linked site.
While follow links are generally more valuable for SEO, a natural backlink profile contains a mix of both follow and no follow links. An unnatural ratio heavily skewed towards only follow links can be a signal of manipulation and lead to penalties. Search engines may also use signals like anchor text from no follow links to a limited degree for ranking purposes, though the impact is likely small compared to follow links from high-quality, relevant sites. In summary, website owners should aim to attract follow backlinks from authoritative, topically relevant pages, while using no follow for sponsored, user-generated, or untrusted links they don't want to explicitly endorse for rankings.
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