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