Why Nofollow Links Matter in SEO

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One of the most effective tactics to increase your rankings on Google is to build up your profile of backlinks of external websites that link to your own. These backlinks will give your website a type of ‘link juice’, bolstering the authority of your website and signaling to Google that other websites see your webpage as authoritative and relevant to the subject at hand. When creating its constantly shifting rankings for specific search queries, Google will take this into account.  By using targeted link building, tactical white-hat SEO can help bolster you as an information resource for these search queries.             

However, when a link is marked as Nofollow, Google’s rankings discount it and it does not add power to your ‘link juice.’ But just because a link doesn’t directly impact your rankings on Google for specific search queries doesn’t mean that it lacks value. In fact, nofollow links have a ton of relevance and authority, and can ultimately lead to greater sales for your company, which is typically the goal of SEO. With that in mind, here are three ways in which nofollow links can greatly benefit your website. 


Diversify Your Backlink Portfolio

Just like an investment portfolio, your backlink portfolio must also be diverse to decrease volatility. For financial investments, Vanguard recommends an 80/20 split between stocks and bonds for a growth-oriented investment portfolio. While a comparison can definitely be made here for followed links and nofollowed links, it is ultimately up to you how you want to allocate your links between the two. 

However, the worst thing you can do for you link portfolio is to have all of the same kind of followed links from only a few domains, even if they are from high authority publications. This will signal to Google that your ‘link juice’ has been nothing more than doping and that you are more interested in bolstering your rankings for sales purposes instead of trying to provide the most relevant and authoritative information for a specific search query. This will end up having the opposite effect that you intended, and will penalize your website in rankings. This practice is a big reason why diversification is essential when acquiring links. 


 

Gain Referral Traffic and Organic Growth

Believe it or not, there are over 200 factors that have been identified in how Google ranks websites. These factors don’t stop at follow or nofollow links. In fact, a well-placed nofollow link has great potential for referral traffic, which will create more sales leads for your website. A good example of this is community oriented websites, which include Wikipedia and the community sections of many larger publications. 


While these links won’t give you direct influence with Google, they can and will be used by others as a point or reference. For example, when a website or blog mentions you on a forum or on social media, all the links are nofollowed by Google, but that doesn’t mean that the referral value or word of mouth here is worthless. Plenty of users will still click on the link and visit your website as a result of these types of posts, which will bring your website more traffic regardless of the source. 


Experience the Link Domino Effect 

Just as wealth begets wealth, links also beget links, whether they are followed or nofollowed. When looking for sources or places to link to, Google is not the only form of discovery for bloggers and journalists. A recent study from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism has found that these writers are increasingly turning to social media as the transition to digital journalism continues. These social media sources include news aggregators such as Reddit and StumbleUpon, but also traditional social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. 

As the discovery process is changing, social is increasingly becoming the new search. 

Often when one link is shared on one site, it will often appear in other places. Someone reading a page will likely click on the link mentioned on that page and will go down the rabbit hole of connecting links to links, regardless of the source. This will make your link connected to content from a previous search, and is the main reason why nofollowed links have a ton of value when it comes to tactical, white-hat SEO practices.