When you’re first learning about blogging and SEO, it can be such a sinking feeling to find out that the link you worked so hard to earn was handily nofollowed before you could even say “page rank.”
But really, it’s not the nofollow attribute that matters most.
It’s where that link is placed, and whether the writer is showing the readers they should be genuinely interested in what’s on the other side.
Believe it or not, there’s plenty of reason to like nofollow links, and dofollow links aren’t without problems and risks.
So before you flip over desk in a fit of nofollowed rage, let’s take a look at why this isn’t a disaster – and why nofollow links are great in and of themselves.
Dofollow is not without problems
How often do you check the comments of a dofollow blog and notice that they seem… eerily similar?
Does it seem like the commenters are just pulling out words and phrases from the blog post? Is everything filled with questionably relevant links?
You’re probably looking at a bunch of bots – or stock comments from humans that might as well be lines of code themselves.
Spam, in other words.
As it happens, comment spam is commonly used to build links – and those spammers swarm to dofollow blogs.
While that’s all well and good for the commenters, having a comment section full of nothing but vacuous comments and links to other sites isn’t exactly an encouraging environment for real readers to participate.
As a result, those links aren’t likely to be clicked on anyway – and that’s vitally important when it comes to thinking about where your links are ending up.
What’s more, dofollow links can also damage the credibility of the blog in question if the owner isn’t careful.
Readers know what spam looks like – and so do search engines.
If the search engine notices an unusually large number of dofollow links, it’s not hard for it to conclude that the page is untrustworthy and bump it down.
But that’s just the way it is, right? Dofollow links improve your ranking, and isn’t it all about the page ranks?
It’s not all about the page ranks
Maybe that answer was obvious, but it’s true:
Building a strong readership isn’t just about where you show up in search results.
Unfortunately, this might be the worst impact of the overwhelming obsession with dofollow links: You start caring more about page rank than about people actually clicking your links.
For example, one place where blogs will frequently dangle the opportunity for dofollow links is through guest posts, where you’re often allowed to write an author bio.
I say “dangle,” like it’s an enticing carrot in a trap, because you should think for a moment about taking it.
Those dofollow links in author bios might help your page rank a tiny bit – but they often don’t lead to much traffic, while a well-placed nofollow link certainly can.
And that’s the real lesson here: What are links all about? Why do you want them?
The page rank is just the surface level. The real value is visibility.
Organic links are the key
While moving up the ranks does indeed help with visibility, it’s links themselves that really increase awareness of your product or brand.
Even more so if they’re recommendations that aren’t buried in your author bio.
Think about it this way: You’re reading one of your favourite blogs. You come across a link, and maybe the blogger’s written “check this out” or “more details on this here.”
You click it, it’s interesting, and suddenly you’ve found another great blog.
And that blog has gained a reader.
What’s actually happening here?
Simply put, that first blogger is saying, “I think this is worth checking out.” They’re saying they trust what’s on the other end, and they feel you – the reader – might find it interesting, too.
In other words, nofollowed or not, that link from a blog with a decent-sized readership stands a good chance of being clicked on.
And if your blog’s relevant to these new visitors, they might stick around for a while, generating more clicks and page views.
They might even share it with their own friends, creating more and more links in the process.
While this is an ideal scenario, the bottom line is that direct recommendations are essential, and they’ll do far more for your blog than spamming dofollow links in comments and author bios no one reads.
Thinking about links in this way can help you get more creative with how you go about improving readership.
The same principle applies if you sell products, too; for example, your existing customers can do a lot for you when it comes to generating traffic and page views.
Now you’re enlisting not just regular visitors, but people who’ve interacted with your brand in the past.
In short, well-placed, direct links are self-proliferating catalysts of visibility.
Sure, ideally you want that dofollow page rank bump, too – but nofollow links are a much easier sell and they can often do just as much or a whole lot more.