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SEO Basics: Follow and No Follow Links

Links are an important part of search engine optimization (SEO). They’re one of the biggest ranking factors that Google uses to determine the legitimacy and quality of your content. But not all links are the same, and there’s a good reason for it.

High-quality backlinks are great for SEO and help to build relationships and rank. The goal with these links is for Google bots to find them and follow them back to their source.

Low-quality, bad, (or even neutral) backlinks don’t really do anything for SEO and can even end up diluting the efficacy of your link building in some cases. You don’t want bots or crawlers to use them as a ranking factor.

So, how do you tell Google and other search engines which links to follow and which to ignore? By designating whether a link is follow or nofollow.

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What are follow links?

A follow (or do follow) link is a link that you want Google to recognize. A follow link helps the page and website you’re linking to have an organic link attributed to them, which boosts their rank and position.

Most organic partnerships with blog post exchanges or mentions are done using follow links.

If someone links to your content, it’s almost always best to have them use a follow link so that you reap the rewards of building link equity.

How do I set a follow link?

Almost all links that don’t have a nofollow tag attached to them are considered to be follow links unless the entire page is set to noindex. In that case, none of the content on the page will be considered by Google for SEO purposes.

What are no follow links?

No follow links are links that you don’t want Google to crawl through. For example, if you have a page of high-quality organic SEO content with lots of great links in it, but one of them happens to be a pay-per-click URL, you might want to set that particular one to no follow since it offers no SEO value to you.

The same goes for things like affiliate links, sponsored content, or other links that exist solely for profit. These links won’t do anything for SEO and can end up taking away from the high-quality organic links that you do have.

In short, no follow links are used more frequently for paid search content.

How do I set a link to no follow?

To signify that a link is no follow, you use the rel attribute <rel=”nofollow”>.

So, in your code, the URL would look like this:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>

Some content management platforms and widgets will let you designate whether a link is follow or no follow when you add the URL to your anchor text.

It should be noted that this will not guarantee that your link won’t be followed. Google and other search engines, like Bing, consider it to be more of a suggestion than a directive. Still, it’s better to indicate how you would like a link to be handled than to leave it to chance.

Ready to work on your link building strategy? Read this article about 8 creative ways to get high-quality backlinks.