Ever since websites introduced scripts to nofollow all of their external links out of fear of diluting their authority, Google has started showing them more attention. A nofollow backlink from an authoritative website in the same vertical can be just as — if not even more — valuable than a dofollow backlink from a smaller website in a different vertical (read: niche).
Hold Up! What’s a Backlink?
Feeling a little lost? Let’s take a couple of steps back. A backlink is a link from one website to another to indicate that the content at the other destination is noteworthy. It’s a bit like a vouch system. The more backlinks you have, the more credible your website is to a search engine like Google, and thus the higher you rank — in theory, at least. There are some other factors at play too.
So… What’s a Nofollow Backlink?
There are two main types of backlinks: nofollow and dofollow. These are differentiated by a tag that’s added to the HTML code for the link. If it’s a no-follow link you’ll find the string
rel=”nofollow" in the code. Adding this tells the search engines to not pass any value from one site to the other — again, in theory. In the real world, nofollow backlinks make all the difference.
Why I Shouldn’t Ignore Them?
Backlinks are all about relevance. You need them from websites already established in the field you’re writing about if you want to rank fast. They need to be amassed actually, though. No website has all nofollow links, and vice versa. So if you’re starting from scratch you might as well focus on building both instead of focusing on dofollows. You’ll should rank faster.
Using the two in tandem, with a mutual focus on relevance and quality, will help you rank faster. Take Notion Wizard, for example. I built this website as a side project and decided to test this approach on it. Within a month of building relevant nofollow and dofollow backlinks, with a handful of quality content thrown in, I started winning the top spot for competitive terms.
Don’t overlook the natural accumulation of backlinks, though. Google crawls millions of new websites each month so it knows what a normal profile should look like: A mixture of nofollow and dofollow websites from authoritative, relevant websites and social-based websites like Reddit, Stack Exchange and Quora. Consider adding these to your link-building strategy.
Think of it from an logical perspective. Would you trust a website you stumbled upon with more than a thousand backlinks and not a single reference on social media? No? So why should Google? While there’s no concrete proof this impacts ranking, we know what a natural backlink profile should look like and social definitely fits into it in some way or another.
Of Course, This Isn’t an Excuse to Spam
Above all, remember that some nofollow backlinks — like their dofollow counterparts — can be considered toxic. These links often come from suspicious websites or are amassed by breaking a search engine’s terms of services. Accumulate too many of these and Google may penalize or even de-index your website. Prioritize quality over quantity. Vet them regularly.