We have all heard it before. Don’t waste your time building nofollow backlinks. Well, I’m here to tell you that nofollow links can be some of the most valuable links you will ever have. I hope to change your opinion on them and reassure you that they too can be worth their weight in gold.

So, what’s a nofollow link?

<a href=“https://codecrater.com” rel=“nofollow”>Link Text</a>

If you are reading this article, you likely already know what a nofollow link is. For clarity’s sake, let’s just recap. A nofollow link is any link that has the nofollow value assigned to the rel attribute of an HTML element. Additionally, it instructs most modern search engines like Google and Bing, that the link should not be used to influence the ranking of the link’s target. However, some people would argue that this is not always the case. More on that below.

A little history

In order to understand why this blog post is relevant, you have to understand the long history behind nofollow backlinks. We’ll keep it short and sweet, though.

Think back to 2004. Search engine optimization was very different than it is now. Link spam was running rampant, blog comments were full of garbage content, and links were bought and sold like Stone of Jordan rings in Diablo II. Well, just like Blizzard, Google had to take action. In early 2005 Matt Cutts and Blogger’s Jason Shellen proposed the nofollow value. This was to directly combat link spam, and it worked, for the most part.

Image of trash and spam

The web was filling up with spam and garbage links

Fast forward to 2009. Matt Cutts announces on his blog that GoogleBot is changing the way it treats nofollowed links. GoogleBot is Google’s website crawling bot, commonly known as a spider. GoogleBot discovers new and updated content that is to be added to the Google index. Typically it follows links to do this. Now, the new and improved Google algorithm only passes link juice through dofollow or normal links.

How do search engines treat nofollow?

Google, Bing, and Yahoo all recognize the nofollow attribute value. Google specifically states that their search engine takes nofollow literally. They do not follow the link what-so-ever.

Yahoo takes a very different stance. If Yahoo finds a nofollow link, they make it available to their algorithm to assist in finding new content. Just like Google though, the link does not pass any of that precious link juice.

Now, you might think as big as Bing is, there would be some information regarding their stance on nofollow links. Unfortunately, there is not and it is not known whether Bing follows a link with the nofollow value. On the other hand, they do respect it and do not take it into account when calculating the ranking.

Search Engine Ranking influence Follows the link Indexes linked page
Google NO YES NO
Bing NO Up for debate NO

Easily digestible table of how search engines treat nofollow links

Creating Nofollow Links for Their Hidden Potential

Google, Bing, and Yahoo may not follow a link with the nofollow value, but that does mean there is no value in them. Some argue that the content surrounding a nofollow link may benefit your website in an indirect way. That argument rests on the basis of it being foolish of Google not to count links coming from super authoritative sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, or Twitter for example. All of those sites have a standard nofollow policy, but they are commonly being used as a source of backlinks. So, what’s the deal?

Besides the argument above, whether true or not, there are still many reasons to create nofollow links. Here are my top 5:

  • Link diversity is key
    Link building is, and always will be the cornerstone of a good SEO campaign. Dofollow or nofollow, a balanced link profile is better than a link profile with strictly dofollow links. It is increasingly important to apply a balanced and natural approach to your SEO strategy.
  • Use them to build your brand
    Stop focusing solely on the juicy links and start focusing on building your brand. Get your links in front of the right people on the right sites. Use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, and other authoritative sites to add exposure to your business. A well placed link the right spot could hold more weight than you think.
  • Generate referral traffic
    Targeted referral traffic is a great reason to use nofollow links. One great example is sharing your link in a blog comment of a good blog post. A well written and carefully thought out blog comment could bring other readers to your blog. After all, isn’t increasing website traffic what this is all about?
  • Potential leads
    Use nofollow links to bring in potential leads. Easier said than done, right? Maybe not. Utilizing sites like Quora as an opportunity to answer questions and include links to your website has been used to bring in new business. Not only will you be generating referral traffic, but the person asking the question may just be interested in hiring you to help solve their problem.
  • Get dofollow links
    Now this what it’s all about. The almighty dofollow backlink. Praised high and low as the holy grail of SEO. Well, that and content. The two however, do go hand in hand. Share great pieces of content on social media sites like, Reddit, Youtube, GrowthHackers, and other websites. If the content is good enough, you can bet on other people sharing your work. Often times, that one nofollow link will result in a dofollow backlink. This should be used as an integral part of any SEO strategy.

The takeaway

Stop obsessing over only attracting dofollow links. If you are really trying to build your brand online, you shouldn’t only be worried about whether a specific link is only relevant for SEO. You should be focusing on whether or not a link is good for your brand. Google’s goal is to put the most relevant content first. You will be greatly rewarded if you spend more time creating quality content. Great content naturally attracts a healthy mix of nofollow and well deserved dofollow links.

Have any questions? Reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and we’ll be happy to help!