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SEO: What Are NoFollow and DoFollow Links?

Linking, whether you’re linking to another site or your site is being linked to, is an important part of SEO (search engine optimization). How a site treats links is important because it can determine how search engines treat those links as well. Specifically, I’m talking about whether a site uses NoFollow tagging within its links.

What do NoFollow and DoFollow mean?

When you create a link within your blog, whether it’s on your sidebar, within your article content, or in a comment, a regular link will be coded similar to this (obviously the URL and link text will be your own):

<a href=””>Blogging Basics 101</a>

If a link is tagged as NoFollow, it will look similar to this (again with your own information):

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Blogging Basics 101</a>

The part that defines the link as NoFollow is the rel=”nofollow”. If you take that out, your link becomes DoFollow. There is no actual DoFollow tag. The absence of the NoFollow tag makes the link DoFollow.

If a blog or web site doesn’t use the NoFollow tag, the search engines acknowledge the link; if a site does use the NoFollow tag, the search engines do not acknowledge the link. Why does this matter? In a previous article, I explained Google pagerank. Basically, if a site with a high pagerank links to you, Google increases your authority, and in turn, your pagerank. Those links can be links directly to something you wrote or links left in comments (since most commenting forms allow you to include your URL). But what if that site with the higher pagerank is using the NoFollow tag and not sharing the love? Well, Google ignores the fact that the site links to you and you don’t get the increased authority or pagerank. It is therefore desirable to interact with DoFollow blogs or web sites.

Is Your Blog DoFollow?

Most web sites have the NoFollow tag automatically enabled. Check out these article for tips on figuring out whether your blog is DoFollow or NoFollow:

Should You Use the DoFollow Tag?

Your readers will appreciate it if you don’t use NoFollow tagging. After all, you’ll be building their authority. It’s a way to give back to your community. Like everything, though, there’s a downside to being a DoFollow site: spammers may inundate a DoFollow blog with comments and links. If you choose to become a DoFollow site, be aware that you may experience an increase in spam comments and it may take more time to filter out the spammy stuff.

If you decide ditching the NoFollow tags is worth it, here are some links to help you change your blog to DoFollow:

When should you consider using the NoFollow tag?

Not every link is created equal. Every site has links that are less important or link to pages that don’t change (e.g., a site map or your About Me page). Use the NoFollow tag for those links. In addition to low priority links, Google suggests using the NoFollow tag for untrusted content and paid links. If you have text link ads on your site, make sure they’re tagged as NoFollow.

Further Reading

A version of this article was also posted at

60 thoughts on “SEO: What Are NoFollow and DoFollow Links?”

  1. I have seen many high authority blogs giving dofollow links to other websites from their articles (not guest post or paid links) .. as reference links hyperlinked in between the articles. So my concern is, if they also know about this nofollow thing then why they will do so ?

  2. At last i find write information that what is do follow. I visit many seo blogs that gives that commenting on do follow blog will drive traffic. But i don’t know mechanism of Google.
    Thanks for this nice post:)

  3. I am really thankful to you for explaining No Follow and Do Follow concept. The recent Panda and Penguin update depicts that they are considering both No-Follow and Do-Follow for site rankings. Thanks again for explaining the concept. Regards

  4. Thanks for this great post..Please let me know whether i am right or wrong… Your explanation mean we should interlink our posts to dofollow link and if we link other sites then we should use nofollow link..

  5. Pretty Straightforward explanation. however, the question is after recent panda and penguin updates , whether we should go for “No-Follow” links or not??

  6. Thanks for the content. It is simple if you dont trust the link make it nofollow and if you want to pass some link juice to a URL and you trust that then make that link dofollow.

  7. I really like this site, it is easy to understand and the topics are very well presented. I will definitely come back for more info

  8. I think we should use do follow tag in our comment section to provide authority to our readers and visitors. It is one of the best way to provide reward them.

  9. awesome Information…
    wanna ask something… if I comment in a website with commentluv activate like urs>>
    then I will get a backlink?? is it true?

  10. Hi,
    Thank you for such an informative and clearly written article. New to this business I truly appreciate language not filled with acronyms. I totally understand how to use these links now.

    NoFollow Reciprocity plugin does, please read this post by Melanie at Blogging Basics 101 SEO

  11. I was not aware that the rel=’do-follow’ tag doesn’t exist and has no use. BTW an informative article comparing between nofollow and do-follow !

  12. Most of my backlinks indicated in my Google Webmaster Tools metrics are ‘no follow’. I have to assume the presence of these links in GWT means they are factored into the Google ranking algorithm. My websites with such ‘no follow’ backlinks have page rank as well as visibility in Google search results.

  13. Personally, I believe Google still counts no-follow links because I have seen websites rank with just no-follow. Its probably a misinformation policy, so that people stop spamming blogs. Plus, its natural to have no follow links in addition to follow. How would it look if your website only had follow links? Keep it natural and diversify your backlink profile.

  14. i got the technical aspect but i want a layman’s explaination of dofollow or notfollow,what does it do?

    1. Keith,
      Basically dofollow links pass along your authority and tell Google to pay attention to the links you post. Nofollow tells Google not to pay attention to that link. You’d use a nofollow link for paid links, for example.

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