What Are Standard vs No Follow Links

Standard vs no follow links

Link building is one of the most important SEO strategies in your belt, but it’s also difficult. Link building is like getting the internet to cast votes for your site through trusted inbound hyperlinks. Gaining these, and properly introducing the outbound equivalent, will boost your blog’s domain authority

Linking is not a one-size fits all approach. There are two types of linking methods, including “standard” and “no follow.” Understanding how to use each type of link will give you the ultimate SEO advantage! To maximize your digital performance, take time to not only consider what to link, but how to link it. 

Today, we’ll walk you through what “no follow” and “standard” links are and when to use them. Each has benefits and can drive you up those SERPs!

standard vs no follow links

Both standard and no follow links each have a time and a place. Knowing what they are, when to use them, and how to insert them will help you diversify your linking for following SEO best practices.  

In order to really understand dofollow and nofollow links, it’s important to start with the basics. In the creation of a piece of HTML code for external links, there is a “rel attribute” that tells search engines what the relationship is between two web pages, and how to rank the pages in search results. For example, the code would include “rel nofollow” to express the nofollow attribute.

A “dofollow” link, also known as a “standard” link, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the normal way of linking material! When a website links to your site using dofollow linking, you get all the usual SEO benefits. 

The website essentially shares its equity with you, which is called “link juice,” and you gain credibility through that hyperlink. When Google sees that well-known sites with good domain authority scores are linking to your web page, it adds trust to your blog, driving your own search engine ranking higher! 

When you link to trusted websites, it has the same effect. Both your domain authority rankings benefit from the shared equity created from that connection between two trusted sites! Getting other people to connect to your site as a link building tool is very important for SEO! 

A “no follow” link is the opposite. How it’s entered into HTML means the website does not share the equity. Many people also call it a “nofollow tag” or a “nofollow attribute”. When you link to a website using a no follow link, that site supposedly does not get any link juice. When a site links to you this way, you also supposedly don’t see an impact on your domain authority score. We say supposedly, because even when you’re marking links as no follow, search engines are smart enough to know there is in fact a link there. So as we always say, don’t try to game the system by using no follow links. Search engines are savvy, so use them appropriately!

Along with regular no follow links, in 2019 Google made some changes to their policies with external links and they announced two new nofollow attributes: “rel sponsored” and “rel ugc”. As their names suggest, a “sponsored” link should be used if a link is part of an advertisement, and a “ugc” link should be used for user-generated content like comments and forum posts. These new attribute values give a clearer understanding of where an external link is coming from. Google prefers these new nofollow links because they provide more specific context in the vast world of digital marketing.

Why would someone do this? You might ask. There are a lot of reasons, actually! And, though your SERP ranking isn’t directly affected by these types of links, it still has an impact on SEO! Using no follow links can protect your blog from spammers and provide necessary variety in link-types. We’ll explain the benefits below! 

Benefits of No Follow Links

No follow links do have a purpose. They’re not meant to just shortchange the person you’re linking to and hoard all the link juice (that’s not even how it works anyway), but instead they have a clear motivation and were created to solve a problem for both inbound and outbound linking. 

As a blogger, you might need to link to something you’d rather not endorse. If you’re blogging about some shady practices from a company, you may need to link to their post about the decision, but you don’t actually want them to benefit from your linking. An unfortunate example is let’s say you have a blog about tips for bloggers. And in that post, you’re discussing how to check if your website content is copied because you have actually had your content stolen before. In that post, if you mention the website that stole your content by name, or even link to the stolen content example, you may want to nofollow that link so it doesn’t appear to be an endorsement of the content and website. A no follow link would be best used in a situation like this! 

When you’re linking to a product you’re getting paid to endorse, it’s best practice to mark this as no follow! Google does not allow the buying or selling of links. So to avoid any confusion or penalty, make sure any affiliate or sponsored links are set to nofollow. 

Control User-Generated Content

If your blog has the option for comments and interaction, that’s great for community engagement, but might not be so good for your domain authority. You don’t want the links of users to low quality or spammy websites to drive your ranking down. Plus, you don’t want all of the website mentions in your comments to appear as links you’re endorsing. So setting up these links as no follow links will protect your site from looking like an outbound link farm. 

Help Google Analyze Content

Google’s web crawlers not only look for things like easy navigation and mobile optimization but also quality content. In order to determine if your content is quality, Google will actually try to contextualize your material. Whether a link is no follow or standard helps Google understand your content and even the context around the content you’re linking to with a follow or no follow link. 

If you have all one type of link, it appears abnormal to web crawlers. Varying your linking shows intentionality and diversity that rates better for SEO! This one is super important for bloggers, as we see a lot of web developers setting up links to automatically no follow or follow. So take note and be intentional about how you’re linking pages as follow or no follow. You should be intentionally choosing each link and be aware of the linking settings on your site. We check nofollow vs follow links for all InfluencerSEO services to make sure you’re doing this properly!

Still Provides Traffic

Now, when it comes to inbound linking, no follow doesn’t mean you’re missing out on all the “good stuff”—by that we mean link juice, of course. No follow links still provide traffic, which will then lead readers to other standard links that will rank you higher on the SERPs. Remember, more traffic is always good for SEO. 

Generates Brand Awareness

No follow links being on other sites still provide brand awareness. The more sites referencing your blog boosts trust in readers and makes it more likely that they’ll gravitate to your site! Google also takes your brand’s mentions into account when delivering your SERP ranking. 

types of no follow links

Here, we’ll describe how to create no follow links! Remember, there are a few different link attributes, so we’ll review that below too! 

For WordPress users:

In WordPress Gutenberg, marking a link as follow or no follow is SUPER easy. All you need to do is click on the hyperlink, then select nofollow or even sponsored content. See below.

How to Create NoFollow Links in WordPress Gutenberg

For Squarespace users:

If you’re on Squarespace, this article can show you how to add a nofollow link!

If you need to add the distinction manually into your HTML code, follow these general steps:

Step 1

Navigate to the HTML code for your link. In some web managers, you can right click on your link within the text block and select “Edit as HTML.”

Step 2

Find in the code where it says rel=”noopener noreferrer.” 

Step 3

Within the quotations type “sponsored” for affiliate no follow links, “ugc” for user-generated links, or “nofollow” for anything else. 

There you go! Your link is now a no-follow link. If you learn better via video, take a look at this video!

No follow links aren’t all bad. They have purpose and are beneficial for your SEO and domain authority score. Take some time to edit links to be no follow when appropriate, and don’t be afraid to let some no follow links come your way too! The traffic and brand awareness gained is invaluable! 

If you find this SEO stuff intimidating or confusing, don’t worry. We’re here to help! Our SEO packages will take care of the link attributes and all other aspects of search engine optimization. This can allow you to focus on the content you’re passionate about while still building a powerful and well-known brand through intentional link building and SEO management. 

Finally, if you want to learn more about SEO and blogging in general, check out all of our blogging tips posts! The SEO terms definition list post and what is SEO for bloggers are great places to start.

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