Understanding DoFollow and NoFollow Links

What is a Link?

A link is a reference on a webpage directing readers to other web pages or websites.  Sometimes you will see the actual full web address (url) of a website, and sometimes you will see a text link version that just shows clickable words – these words that hide the destination website are called Anchor text.


Links Are DoFollow By Default

When search engines come and look at, or crawl, your website, they make note of every link on each page, and then follow those links to the new pages.  In this way the search engines can find more pages, and more content to index for their search results.

By default, all links are DoFollow, unless otherwise specified, in which case they will be tagged as NoFollow.


What Does NoFollow mean?

NoFollow tells the Search Engine crawlers not to follow that specific link from your page to the destination.  The link will still be on your page, and can still be clicked by people reading your page however, so there is still some benefit in having these links.

You may also see links flagged as ‘External NoFollow’ – which just means the link goes to another website, it’s not a link to another page on the same website the link resides.


Disclaimer – different search engines treat NoFollow differently, some ignore the link entirely, others follow the link but don’t pass along any PageRank, authority, or whatever term they use to pass along link-juice form one site to another.


What is Google PageRank?

Google measures web pages and ranks them with a score known as PageRank.

The number and quality of all links pointed to a page contribute towards the rank of that page.

The quality of the link is determined, in part, by the PageRank of the site the link lives on, the anchor text words used for the link, how relevant the content of the page the link comes from is to the page the link is pointing at, and the age of the domain hosting the webpage.

Essentially, the higher the PageRank score, the more popular the webpage, and the higher that page will appear in the search engine rankings.


Why You Want DoFollow links

The point of a NoFollow link is two-fold; so search engines don’t follow the link and index the page, but more importantly this tag stops the flow of PageRank from one site to another.

A link from a high PageRank page to a lower rank page boosts the rank of the target page a little, so when you are building links to promote a website and get it a higher search engine ranking position you want to gather (naturally, of course) as many high PageRank links as you can, this is a good thing.


This is just an overview, but should at least help you understand the differences?  Let me know what you think in the comments!