I bet, it’s not what you thought.
If you ever wonder how your website can benefit from nofollow links and what should be the dofollow vs nofollow ratio – this post will answer all the questions about your backlink profile.
Just keep reading.
- Links to your site = organic traffic
- You need both dofollow and nofollow links
- What is a natural link profile?
- What makes a good link profile?
- Domain-level link features
- Don’t be aggressive when building your dofollow & nofollow profile
- Anchor text distribution for links
- Make sure to avoid unnatural link profile penalty
- Dofollow vs nofollow ratio wrapped up
Links to your site = organic traffic
Without the right links, you may not rank in Google top 10. And Google’s algorithm has evolved over the years to reward natural, relevant, and authority sites.
There is a great correlation (or relationship) between Google rankings and links. If you see a web page that sits at the #1 position in Google, it probably has a lot of the right links. According to Moz, 99.2% of all top 50 results had at least one external link pointing to the website.
Yes, links connect the dots of the web together. But from the search engine’s viewpoint, not all links are created equal.
In the past, Google created a metric called “PageRank” to calculate link points. These link points come primarily from dofollow links. So we can define dofollow links as links that search spider follows, indexes and rewards. These links are counted as points because they pass SEO value to a web page and improves its search rankings, page & domain authority, as well as overall search performance.
It’s been a long-standing argument. SEO experts and internet marketing companies want to know what the best dofollow vs nofollow link ratio is.
The truth is there is no best ratio. What works for my site might not yield good results for you.
Just so we are on the same page, let’s examine what in fact are nofollow links.
Nofollow links are backlinks that have rel=”nofolow” added in the URL.
In simple terms, nofollow links are links that bring referral traffic to your page but carries almost no value in the eyes of Google.
Nofollow links are comments, tweets, facebook posts & URL shares of that kind.
How to spot a nofollow link?
When you look at the code it will look exactly like this – <a href=”http://www.linkody.com” rel=”nofollow”>Backlink</a>
You can also download a chrome extension called – NoFollow Chrome Extension. Every time there will be a nofollow link, it will be shown in a red square.
Do-follow link is exactly the opposite of a nofollow link.
It’s also a lot harder to get.
These kinds of backlinks come from special kind of directories, articles and landing pages. Most of the time they are inserted by a webmaster instead of you. That’s also the reason why it’s so much harder to get one.
Remember, how nofollow links had rel=”nofollow”?
Dofollow links don’t have this rel symbol, which indicates that Google’s spiders can follow it and authority from one site is transferred to another.
How to spot a dofollow link?
The snippet looks like this – <a href=”http://www.linkody.com”>Backlink</a>
Do follow link is exactly like a nofollow link but without rel=”nofollow” parameter.
*If you are looking for strategies to get dofollow backlinks, have a look here – 41 strategies to get backlinks.
Yes, you can’t enjoy organic traffic from Google if you lack any of these link types. They’re both essential for the long-term success of your site.
The most important thing to remember, though, is that you need a balance on the type of links you get.
On one hand, if all your links are only dofollow, Google and other search engines will view this as manipulative and tag your links as spammy, even if you didn’t do anything fishy.
In the chart below, you’ll notice that too many links from low-quality sites and too much exact match anchor texts could put you in the danger zone.
The difference between dofollow and nofollow links is big – hence, Google views these campaigns as unfriendly to their algorithm and users.
On the other hand, if many of your links are no follow, Google will not penalize your site, but you’ll struggle to rank highly in Google results pages – solely because nofollow links don’t improve search rankings.
According to Matt Cutts:
“in general, we don’t follow nofollow links.”
When links and fresh pages are crawled, Google adds them to its index (a data bank containing billions of saved web pages that are served to users when a search is made).
Pages and links that aren’t in the index will not show up in the search results when a keyword is inputted and searched in Google.
Although there is no right or wrong answer on the best dofollow vs nofollow link ratio, you can learn how other webmasters, companies, and SEOs build balanced links that make Google cheer.
What Google is truly concerned is the relevance of your backlinks. Even if the links don’t provide value to your SEO, they just might be valuable to the users.
A link from a referring site that’s not related to your industry or topic may not be useful to people when they click on it.
It doesn’t matter whether the link is dofollow or nofollow. Thus, this will lead to a high bounce rate, or pogo-sticking if you generate clicks from the search engines.
Google has one agenda:
To rank higher means to offer tremendous value for its users.
When you understand this most important pursuit, you’ll dare to spend adequate time on your content, and craft a masterpiece that people will naturally link to.
Your content, links, approach and the like are all vital when you’re looking to improve your link profile.
Just as user’s profile on Facebook contains their full name, address, country, phone numbers, hobbies, academic information, and more, your link profile serves as a gateway for search engines to make smarter decisions on where to rank your web pages in their organic listings pages.
The average SEO expert will advise you to get the right links if you want to boost your rankings. And it’s true.
Except they’re not telling you what makes a link “good” or bad, and what makes a link natural or manipulative.
A natural link profile is made up of:
- The types of links pointing to your site (sources such as blogs, static sites, directories, forums, news articles, press releases, social, etc.).
- Link velocity: how these links were acquired (all at once, or slowly/steadily over time) in the first place.
- The anchor text distribution (words used) distribution used in those links (this is an integral part of what makes up a link profile).
Now that you know what a link profile is, another question is, what makes it “natural?”
The word “natural” is not strange to us. It means existing in or formed by nature. And not made or caused by man, as illustrated below:
So Google wants to index links that look natural, as though you didn’t ask, request or did anything to get it.
The link profile is more important than you think. Google algorithm updates have leveled the playing ground for both professionals and newbie site owners and SEOs.
If you want your content pages to perform well in the organic listings pages, you need to work on your link profile.
In modern SEO, where you got your links from is more important than the link itself. Better yet, the quality of a link carries much power than the quantity (or a number of links you generated).
That said, every link is designed to create awareness of something on a different web page. While creating awareness, links offer value and help users find the information they’re desperately seeking for.
For example, some of the outbound links (out-going links) on this article are relevant.
Because if you click on them, you’ll land on a page that’s closely related to link building or SEO in general. I couldn’t link out to a real estate page, otherwise, it may not be useful to you.
In the same vein, the entirety of your link profile MUST be natural, relevant and in one way or more help the users, not just boost rankings.
If you’re more concerned about rankings, then you’re probably doing something odd – and Google doesn’t like it.
Several things affect a link profile. Taking a look at the deeper complexity of a link is vital because it gives you an unfair advantage over your competitors whose focus is on the quantity of links they can get.
A healthy link profile consists of a lot of high authority links that are pointing to your site and no spammy links.
The breakdown of a good link profile is:
- It must contain lots of relevant, high authority, and high-value backlinks
- zero spammy links
In the Moz’s list of Google ranking factors, you find that domain-level link features and page-level link features are the two most important factor that influences organic listings.
This can be defined as the total number of incoming links to a domain as a whole, and their characteristics (e.g., IP address diversifications, domain extensions, domain age).
Domain-level link features matter because it gives credence to your link profile. If the domains that sent links to your site are not authoritative or aged, your link profile will possibly not enhance your rankings.
I’m sure you don’t want that to happen. Or do you?
Analyzing link portfolio helps to determine the authority of domains linking to your site.
You can use Linkody to conduct a quick backlinks analysis. Once we know the number of backlinks, and the number of unique domains, we’re set to go.
I) Quick Signup to Linkody
II) Check the backlink data
At a glance, you can see that the site (contentmarketingup.com) has generated 646 total backlinks.
III) Linkody also shows you the Domain Authority (DA) and the Spam Score
Moreover, when you head over to Analytics section you can see how many Spammy links you have in total.
- Spam score above 0, should be corrected – it shows (scale 0 – 10) the risk of being penalized (the higher the score, the higher the risk).
- DA predicts how well your site will rank (scale 0 – 100) on the search engines.
IV) The links that link to your site
Now you will see the Domain Authority and the Spam Score of sites linking to you
This is so important, because when you’re armed with this, you’ll be able to focus on the right sites and develop a high-quality inbound link profile.
V) Disavow the bad links
You can see that there are some sites to “disavow” – let Google know that it should not look at them. Linkody offers this feature.
It’s possible that someone else is trying to get them into trouble by deploying a negative SEO campaign. Checking your link profile once in a while is a must to know where your dofollow and nofollow URLs are coming from.
More than anything, you’ve got to develop a strong foundation for your links. You have to make sure high-quality sites link to your website.
Reach out to the authority blogs and connect with them at a personal level – pitch a guest post. Fresh high-quality content for them – a backlink for you. It’s a win-win.
After all, they got to the first page of Google and currently ranks highly for several long-tail keywords by constantly publishing fresh, relevant, in-depth and long-form content. They need to continue or lose their rankings.
When you guest post and the site has a good Domain Authority, even if the link contains a nofollow tag, it’s not useless. Don’t consider it as a waste of time.
Note: Make it clear that you want a dofollow link.
You can also reach out to trade associations, local Chambers of Commerce, Educational blogs, Government owned portals, Better Business Bureau, business.com and other “authoritative” directories and websites.
Their domain names usually contain strong backlinks that are aged. Google favors these high-value domain names. By linking from them, you increase the quality score of your link profile and take your rankings to another level.
In all of these, remember to use your company name (or brand name) as the anchor texts for links (more on this later).
This is critical because over-optimized anchor texts can harm your site, and pass negative signals to your link profile, making them look manipulative, instead of natural.
I believe, you know that useful content is the key. Great content will continue to grow leads, increase traffic, rankings, and grow revenue.
Whether your site is new or not, it’s important to create great content that is link worthy, says link building expert David McBee.
Don’t be aggressive when building your dofollow & nofollow profile
One of the things that Google considers is the frequency that you get your links. Aggressive link building could harm your site especially if your site is fairly new. When you work on your dofolow vs nofollow ratio, you should follow a pattern and avoid being aggressive.
Trustworthy sites like Amazon, Ebay, and the like have the authority to do aggressive linking and get away with it. But you shouldn’t.
A controversial email went out from Home Depot. The folks behind this huge e-commerce shopping site were asking their partners to link to the Home Depot’s website. A copy of this email is right here.
The resultant effect was that Home Depot saw an increase in its ranking when partners and fans started linking to them.
This might seem manipulative, because it’s against Google’s policy, but it helped the site. And they got away with this act at the time, because of the trust flow the pages have.
But a new site that tries this may not live to tell the sad story of Google penalty.
A basic backlink analysis shows that Home Depot’s link profile has a balance between dofollow and nofollow links.
Most SEO experts are still confused on what is the right ratio.
In a way, Google has made it easy. In the sense that if you get paid links, you need to add a nofollow tag to tell Google bot to ignore the links, and not index them.
If you don’t use a nofollow tag, and Google eventually finds out you purchased the links, you stand the risk of a penalty.
According to Francois Goube, “an ideal link profile has do follow and no follow backlinks. It’s just “natural”.”
In other words, both dofollow and nofollow URLs will be present in your link profile if you have been following link building best practices, especially when you focus on creating link-worthy content. This types of content can go viral when you promote them effectively.
Dofollow vs Nofollow ratio
“You should be working towards earning links not begging for it,” says Michael Martinez. That way, you’ll possibly get a natural link profile.
While responding to a Quora question regarding the importance of a good dofollow vs nofollow ratio – I noticed Rav Smith, who says that a 50/50 ratio for dofollow vs nofollow link ratio is natural.
However, the truth is that it’s very difficult, perhaps impossible to get a 50/50 ratio. What I think is that the dofollow vs nofollow ratio should be tiny. Say follow links (60%), and nofollow links (40%).
Dofollow links should always surpass nofollow links. Because the former is more important to search engines and are responsible for improving your search rankings, but the latter (no follow links) have their fate spelled out already by Google:
“First, anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves.”
SEO is a multi-faceted subject. Links alone will not get you the rankings you seek, neither will content, no matter how good.
Don’t approach SEO with a half-baked approach. Remember there is a correlation between page-level & anchor text-based links.
The relevance of a link is usually determined by the content of the page and the anchor text.
The caveat behind anchor text usage is simple: if you used “social media tools” as your anchor text, what do you intend to achieve?
Obviously, you want people to click on the link and access tools that will enhance their social media marketing. Is that right?
When it comes to anchor texts links, you have to simplify the process, and not stuff a web page with several outbound links that go out to the same site.
You’ve got to understand that when Google sees more than one anchor text that links out to the same web page, it takes into account only the first anchor. A second link will be ignored.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know this. Yes, the anchor text is supposed to speak the same language as the referred site.
In other words, if the anchor text is “social media tools,” the landing page doesn’t have to be “how to get twitter followers” or “get more leads from Instagram.”
The content of your anchor text profile
Google has not set rules on what the anchor text must say.
In order to successfully build a natural link profile, you need to pay more attention to your brand names and use them as anchor texts.
Because Google penguin was released to penalize exact keyword match anchor texts Or rather over-optimized exact match keyword anchor texts). So be careful how you use your keywords in anchors, and instead use your brand name.
Some of the respected SEO professionals have a wide range of anchor text distribution. Interestingly, distributions that are friendly with modern SEO is hinged on brand names. Take at look at Backlinko’s anchor texts distribution:
Brian Dean builds a lot of links, not only for his blog but for his clients. And they’re seeing good results in terms of search rankings, link acquisitions, organic traffic, and revenue growth.
His anchor texts are distributed evenly. But more emphasis is placed on his personal brand name (e.g. brian @backlinko, brian dean’s backlink, brian dean).
Anchor text distribution
In like manner, you want your anchor texts to be as natural, and evenly distributed as possible. Here’s what majority of SEO agencies, professionals, and webmaster recommend as the ideal anchor text distribution:
I) Branded – In this case, your brand is included in the anchor text (e.g., our dodocase wallet, quicksprout).
II) Brand Name – The brand name is mostly the anchor text, e.g. Backlinko’s SEO
III) Keyword Branded – Sometimes, to see the results, you have to combine an anchor text with a keyword(exact/phrase/partial match) and the Brand Name, e.g. the best SEO articles from Brian Dean at Backlinko
IV) Exact Match – Use your exact keyword as an anchor to pass the relevant value to your link, e.g. SEO expert NY.
V) Phrase – The anchor text is made up of a keyword phrase or partial match anchor text, e.g. the Brian’s SEO That Works.
VI) Generic – Don’t use any keyword or brand in your anchor text, e.g. visit the site. You could also use just your URL as anchor text, e.g. http://marketingprofs.com
A lot of things can trigger the manual penalty. You may not control your links 100%, but the ones you can, do your best to get natural links – if you can earn it that would be better.
Links from article directories (or content mill sites) and paid links are classified as manipulative by Google.
In fact, Google wants you to report paid links when you find one. This tells you that Google doesn’t want it.
For this single act, in 2012, Google de-indexed a search agency, Iacquire, for buying links for clients. Obviously, it was the sites the benefitted from the links that suffered a penalty, but the agency. I’m thinking that this was a manual penalty, not automated.
Several other sites were awarded the penalty for over-optimization or issues related to unhealthy link profiles.
This wasn’t a case of dofollow vs nofollow ratio, but a question of how natural the links were. There are 17 types of link spams to avoid if you want to steer clear of Google penalty and build a natural link profile.
Dofollow vs nofollow ratio wrapped up
There you have it. An in-depth analysis of links, and how to build balanced do follow vs nofollow ratio – thus, building a natural link profile that will impact your search rankings.
The right dofollow vs nofollow ratio is unknown. Google hasn’t announced the ideal ratio and I don’t think they will ever do that.
Both backlinks have their advantages no matter if it’s an indexable link (dofollow) or a link that just sits there collecting the dust and isn’t followed by Google’s spiders (nofollow). The first contributes to your ranking the later gives you visibility, even if small.
So, what is your dofollow vs nofollow link ratio?
Find out here!