The easier it is for potential customers to find your website in search engine results, the more traffic (and sales) you will generate.
As a result, there is kind of constant competition for content as website owners and administrators look for ways to stand out from the crowd and improve search engine optimization (SEO).
Gone are the wild, wild west days of the World Wide Web when keyword spam and content stuffing were the norm to pique search engine interest.
Now brands need to focus on tightly controlled metrics – such as Google's PageRank – to increase their online appeal and bring their website listing closer to the first page, the peak of the first result.
While part of this effort is to write relevant, accurate, and interesting content, there is another key component: dofollow links. With the right approach, these links can help harness great content for higher PageRank and better search results.
This is how they work
What is a dofollow link?
PageRank is effectively a weighted score where links are used to assign points – the more points, the better your website rank and the better your SEO. Often referred to as "link juice" by online marketing professionals because they can "flow through" websites with the correct link structure, getting these points is a priority for every website owner.
The problem? Almost immediately after its inception, it became the strategy of many unscrupulous marketers to earn points in some way.
The easiest way to achieve this goal? Leave comments on popular websites' posts that contain links to customer pages and help improve their profile. The more reputable the link site – think reputable retailers or news organizations – the bigger the link juice boost.
By default, these links were "dofollow" – they told search engines to follow the link back to the original site and improve their PageRank. To solve the growing problem of spam links, the link "nofollow" was created: Site administrators can add an HTML tag:
… To a link on your website that has instructed search engines not to follow the link back to the destination and, in return, not to increase PageRank.
Dofollow links remain an important part of SEO strategy even today. Getting a "backlink" from a reputable website can significantly increase PageRank scores and help brands stand out. The introduction of nofollow links gives site administrators more control.
For example, most comment areas now include nofollow tags by default, and page builders can choose to add nofollow tags to blog posts and other articles. Changing these links from nofollow to dofollow is easy, but it does require the target website owners to contact the link page administrators and ask for the change.
How to create a dofollow link
In most cases, no action is required to create a dofollow link. Naturally, if your website is linked from another website and the nofollow tag is not added, search engines will get to your page and increase your overall PageRank.
The same applies if you insert links on your own website. For example, you can add links to other reputable websites in your own content and allow search engines to follow those links.
If you've been asked by another brand to include their links on your page or are moderating blog comments, you may want to turn on automatic nofollow tags if possible, or make sure all links contain the nofollow tag until you're sure it is makes sense to follow the link back.
This is especially important when other links lead to poor quality or keyword-filled content as this can be a poor reflection of your own website.
Expressed in a simple way? When it comes to external links from reputable websites going back to your page, dofollow is ideal. Links outside your website that are linked from your own posts or appended to comments on your content should only be discontinued if the website is reputable and relevant to outbound links.
What tools are available for dofollow links?
Are you wondering whether a link does not follow or not? If it is on your own site, you can check the HTML on your CMS administration page to see if the nofollow tag is there. However, what if the link is from another external site? Since you can't see or edit your code, you can't be sure whether links aren't following or not.
In this case, it is worth using the dofollow link checking tools to see if links are improving your PageRank or not.
The first tool is a web-based tool that checks entire pages for nofollow and dofollow links. Moz MozBar is a Chrome extension, while SEOquake is offered for both Chrome and Firefox. Link Analyzer is a stand-alone tool that does not require a specific browser. Each of these tools are free and will follow the links on your website to see if they don't follow or not. The results are then reported.
Should I follow an external link?
Here the answer depends on two factors: where does the link go and what are the benefits of choosing Dofollow? Ideally, dofollow links direct search engines to content that is current, relevant, and accurate and, in turn, provide "link juice" for both the external website and your own website.
There may be cases when dofollow reciprocal links are a good idea, especially if you want to grow website traffic and the external website is ranking similarly to your own. Ideally, you want a mix of nofollow and dofollow links on your page to ensure that search engines don't just view your content as a vehicle for PageRank scores.
How long does it take for Google to recognize a dofollow link?
There is no clear answer here, as search engine spiders crawl a considerable volume of pages every day. Google typically recognizes dofollow links within two to four days of posting.
If your website has low traffic and the dofollow links you create or receive are from similarly small websites, it may take longer for PageRank to recognize these links. If you are lucky enough to get a backlink from a high ranking website, you can see the benefit in just a few days.
Dofollow links remain a critical aspect of SEO and search ranking efforts, but must be used strategically to achieve substantial benefits.