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Dofollow Vs Nofollow Backlinks

By the Rhino Rank team
8th Apr 2024

It is well known that backlinks play a crucial role in determining a website’s authority and visibility. However, in a survey conducted by SearchLogistics, over 41% of marketers stated that link building is the most challenging part of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and 60% of businesses outsource their link building to professional agencies and contractors. 

What makes things more complicated is that there are two different types of backlinks: dofollow links and nofollow links.

In this blog post, we explain the difference between dofollow links and nofollow links, why both link types are important, and how you can build high quality links to boost your website’s SEO performance.

Key Takeaways

  • A dofollow link is a hyperlink that allows search engines to pass authority from one domain to another. In other words, when a site links to you with a dofollow attribute, it shares some of its “link juice.” 
  • A nofollow link is a hyperlink that includes the rel=”nofollow” attribute, instructing search engines not to pass link authority from one domain to another. In other words, these links do not pass “link juice” onto the target website or influence search rankings in any way.
  • The primary difference between a dofollow link and a nofollow link is how search engines treat them. Dofollow links add SEO value to the target website, boosting its authority and rankings, while nofollow links have no direct SEO benefits.

Dofollow Links

What are dofollow links?

Dofollow links, also known as follow links, are the standard or default link type. They tell search engines to crawl the linked website, allowing authority and link equity to be passed on. Therefore, building dofollow backlinks will help improve a website’s Domain Authority (DA), which will then help to improve the site’s keyword ranking.

In HTML code, a dofollow link looks like this: <a href=”https://example.com/”>Click here</a>


When Should Dofollow Links Be Used?

Dofollow links should be used when a website is linking to an authoritative and credible source. This is because dofollow links enable search engines to pass on some of the linking site’s authority and “link juice” to the target website, which will increase it’s organic ranking power.

What Are The Benefits Of Dofollow Links?

Dofollow links are the most powerful link type and provide many SEO advantages and benefits.

1. Building Authority And Credibility

Gaining high-quality dofollow backlinks from authority sites will help position your website as an industry leader.

Search engines view dofollow links as a “vote of confidence” from one site owner to another. This helps promote the linked site as a valuable and trustworthy source of information and will naturally boost the online reputation and authority of the linked website, increasing its Domain Authority (DA).

In the world of SEO, Domain Authority (DA) is considered one of the best indicators of your website’s ranking power. The higher your website’s DA score, the more it is trusted by Google and other search engines, and the higher it will rank on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

1. Improves  Rankings On Search Engines

Google uses complex algorithms to determine the authority of websites. These algorithms place a lot of value on the quantity and quality of a website’s inbound links. Websites with a natural link profile that contain a lot of high quality dofollow links will be seen as a more authoritative and trustworthy source of information, and will therefore do better in the search results.

2. Boosts Website Traffic

Dofollow links can help increase website traffic and visitor numbers as they prompt users to click on your website’s hyperlink to enhance their online experience; either by answering a question they have, providing them with a product they are looking for, teaching them something new, or by simply providing them with some light-hearted entertainment.

In addition, by having a more authoritative website and better search rankings, your website will naturally attract more organic visitors.

4. Pass PageRank For SEO

PageRank is Google’s way of measuring the importance of a webpage based on the number of high quality inbound links it has.

Dofollow links significantly impact SEO by sharing PageRank, or “link juice”, from one site to another. Therefore, the more high quality dofollow inbound links a website has, the more PageRank value the webpage will have, and the better it will perform in the search results.

Nofollow Links

What Are Nofollow Links?

Nofollow links tell search engines to “ignore” and not crawl the linked website, meaning there is no transfer of link authority between sites. Therefore, nofollow links have little to no SEO value, and building nofollow backlinks will not directly improve a website’s authority or rankings. However, an article published by Neil Patel states that nofollow backlinks can still positively impact your page rankings by boosting a business’s brand awareness and online credibility.

So, if they don’t directly impact SEO metrics, why were nofollow links created in the first place?

Well, Google developed and integrated the rel=”nofollow” tag into its algorithm in 2005. At the time, forum posts and blog comments were being abused by spammy websites and black hat SEO practitioners to publish thousands of spam links to manipulate their website authority and artificially inflate their keyword rankings. The introduction of the rel=”nofollow” tag hoped to restrict the power of user-generated content, improve overall user experience, and place more value on organic, high quality dofollow links.

In HTML code, a nofollow link looks like this: <a href=”https://example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Click here</a>

When Should Nofollow Links Be Used?

Despite having no direct SEO benefit, there are several reasons you might want to build a nofollow link, including:

  • When linking to a page that you don’t want to endorse or pass authority to.
  • When posting links on social media sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • When posting links in user-generated content, such as forum posts or blog comments.

Google also recommends using the nofollow link attribute (or the more modern rel=”sponsored” attribute) on paid links. According to Google, every website should earn links naturally, without trying to manipulate or compromise the algorithm. Therefore, if you buy a banner ad on a website for example, Google recommends this link be accompanied by a rel=“nofollow” tag or rel=”sponsored” tag.

What Are The Benefits Of Nofollow Links?

While nofollow links don’t generally help with SEO, they still have some advantages, such as: 

1. They Help To Diversify Your Link Profile

A natural and diverse backlink profile is essential for any website that wants to boost its online visibility – meaning there must be both dofollow and nofollow links. 

If you only build dofollow links to your website, then this will alert search engines that you are intentionally building or buying links to try and manipulate your website’s search engine rankings. This means you may receive a penalty from Google and other search engines, which could cause your keyword rankings to drop or the website could be removed from the search results altogether.

2. Drives Traffic To Your Website

Incorporating natural nofollow backlinks into your SEO strategy can increase your site’s referral traffic, especially if you are building these links on popular websites, like BusinessInsider or Forbes.

In addition, most website users cannot distinguish the difference between nofollow and dofollow links, and they will click on a hyperlink regardless of its link type so long as it fulfills their search needs.

3. Builds Brand Awareness

The importance of nofollow links in SEO lies in their ability to enhance brand awareness and a website’s online reputation.

As mentioned earlier, nofollow links can originate from various sources and can contribute significantly to brand recognition. This is because when users frequently encounter your nofollow links on other websites, they are more likely to click on the link, view your website, and enter your sales pipeline.

This is why many SEO experts say that having 100 high quality nofollow backlinks that actively promote your brand holds more value than 10 generic dofollow links.

4. Nofollow Links Can Lead To Dofollow Links

A nofollow link can serve as a gateway to securing a follow link. For example, websites that are currently offering nofollow links as standard, including bloggers or influencers, might offer you dofollow links in the future if you build a good working relationship with them. This process ultimately boosts the number of links in your backlink profile, enhancing your link authority.

Dofollow Vs Nofollow Links: What Is The Difference?

The main difference between nofollow links and dofollow links can be seen in how they influence SEO and the search rankings of the page they link to.

Dofollow links have a direct SEO benefit, helping boost the linked website’s authority, credibility, and rankings. Whereas, nofollow links have no direct SEO impact, and are simply used to boost brand visibility and build industry connections.

How To Check If A Link Is Dofollow Or Nofollow?

1. Using HTML Code 

The most efficient method to determine whether a backlink is a nofollow link or a dofollow link is by inspecting the source code of the linking page.

To do this, right-click the backlink’s anchor text and select “Inspect element” or “Inspect.” The names may vary depending on the browser you’re using. If you’re using the Chrome browser, you can also press “Ctrl+Shift+L“:

The next step is to examine the HTML code of the link. Remember, a rel=”nofollow” attribute means the backlink is a nofollow link, while a missing attribute or a rel=”dofollow” attribute means the backlink is a dofollow link. 

2. Using SEO Extensions

Several browser extensions are available to help website owners easily identify if a backlink is a dofollow link or a nofollow link. Some of the best tools currently available are:

  • Chrome link extensions: NoFollow, Robots Exclusions Checcker, and Follow NoFollow Link Checker
  • Firefox link extensions: NoFollow, Strike Out Nofollow Links, and SEO Nofollow Link Highlighter

3. Using Backlink Analysis Tools

SEMRush and Ahrefs are some of the best SEO tools available that will allow you to automatically analyze backlink profiles and see how many nofollow and dofollow links your website has.

You can also use these tools to conduct competitor backlink analysis, allowing you to identify and steal dofollow link opportunities from your closest competitors.

How To Build Dofollow Links

1. Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging, also known as Guest Posting, is a great way to drive strong topical relevancy signals to your website. To discover new guest posting opportunities, you can use Google search and social media groups to identify blogs that accept guest posts.

PRO TIP: Keep an eye out for websites that have a “write for us” page, as they will normally have a high chance of approval.

Before reaching out to any website, be sure to review their Guest Posting Guidelines thoroughly, check if they permit dofollow or nofollow links, and what topics they are interested in featuring.

2. Curated link building

Curated link building is the most popular and affordable way of building dofollow links for a website. The process involves placing links within relevant and authoritative content that has already been indexed by Google. For this reason, curated links deliver more “link juice” than other link types and are great for boosting your online authority and keyword rankings.

3. Convert Business Mentions Into Links

Monitoring online mentions of your business presents a great opportunity to convert unlinked brand references into dofollow backlinks. By setting up Google Alerts, you will be notified every time your brand or business is mentioned online. If you notice a blogger or influencer has mentioned your business, but not included a link to your website, you can reach out to them directly – thanking them for promoting your business and kindly asking them to add a dofollow link to their article. 

4. Email Outreach

Email outreach shares many similarities with guest blogging. However, while it can aid in acquiring more links for your website, that should not be your primary focus. Instead, concentrate on delivering value to your readers and consider what they can gain from engaging with your content. Providing valuable insights and information will naturally attract more interest and engagement from your audience.

5. Get Interviewed

Interviews are another excellent way to earn a backlink to your website. All you have to do is actively engage with influencers, journalists, and content creators in your industry and be on the lookout each time they need to interview someone. This approach requires you to be perceived as someone knowledgeable and trustworthy. But once you attain that reputation, the opportunities will start pouring in, which will naturally enhance your backlink profile but also reinforce your authority and expertise within your industry.

6. Request For Attribution

Creating and promoting high-quality content on third-party websites will enable your own site to get introns of more people and is a great way to acquire dofollow backlinks and boost your site traffic. However, it’s essential to ensure proper attribution when your content is reused or referenced by other websites. Therefore, if you notice your content is being used without your knowledge, make sure you reach out to the respective website owner and kindly ask them to add a dofollow link back to your original piece of content.

7. Create An Expert Roundup For Backlinks

Creating expert roundup articles is another common strategy for acquiring dofollow backlinks. To create a featured article or a blog post, start by choosing the industry influencers you want to feature and invite them to contribute their experience or thoughts on a relevant industry topic. Once the content is published, you can then encourage those mentioned to share the article or blog post on their websites and with their respective networks, which will include a link back to your website.

8. Use HARO For Dofollow Backlinks

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a platform that bridges the gap between journalists seeking expert insights and professionals eager to share their expertise. By responding to relevant journalist queries, business owners can establish themselves as authoritative industry experts. After signing up for HARO, you’ll receive daily media queries relevant to your chosen industry. By responding to relevant journalist queries, website owners have the chance to be featured in articles or publications published on sites like CNN, Mashable, and Forbes. Without question, this is a great way to enhance your visibility and authority within your industry while acquiring valuable backlinks from authoritative sources.

9. Find Your Competitor’s Dofollow Links

Analyzing your competitors’ backlink profiles is a great way to quickly find new opportunities for acquiring dofollow backlinks from authoritative sources. You can utilize SEO auditing tools such as SEMRush or Ahrefs to identify the most valuable external links your competitors have. You can then contact the owners of these websites, expressing your interest in contributing content to their website and explaining how it would benefit their current target audience.

10. Find Broken Links, Then Offer Your Links

Searching for broken links on relevant websites presents a unique opportunity to offer valuable content as a replacement, thereby acquiring new backlinks for your website and boosting your industry connections. When you find broken outbound links on a relevant website, reach out to the website owners to inform them of the issue and offer to replace the link with one to your own website. By providing a solution to their problem and offering valuable content in exchange, you increase the likelihood of securing a dofollow backlink to your website.


Dofollow link building is your go-to if you want to increase your website authority and dominate the search rankings, whereas nofollow link building is essential for building an organic link profile and boosting your brand’s online visibility.

So, now that you know the basics of nofollow and follow links, it’s time to start building backlinks for your website.

At Rhino Rank, our backlink experts specialize in creating bespoke link building campaigns for our clients. Each campaign is unique and tailored to the client’s website, industry trends, and long-term marketing goals.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a nofollow link?

A nofollow link is a hyperlink that has a rel=“nofollow” tag. These links do not have any direct SEO benefit and do not influence the search engine rankings of the target website.

What is a dofollow link?

A dofollow link is the standard link type. These links can have immense SEO benefits as they tell search engines that this particular link is an organic recommendation from one site to another, boosting the target website’s authority and therefore its keyword rankings and organic traffic.

Are Nofollow Links Bad?

No! Acquiring nofollow links is actually good for a website. While nofollow links may not directly impact SEO, they can generate valuable referral traffic. Therefore, even a nofollow backlink from a high-traffic site holds value. For instance, a nofollow link from reputable platforms like BusinessInsider or Entrepreneur can drive thousands of visitors to your website.

Should I Use Nofollow Links?

Yes! Nofollow links are essential if you want to create a natural link profile and avoid getting any penalties from Google. These links are also great for boosting your brand awareness and online credibility.

What Is The Difference Between Nofollow And Noindex?

Noindex and Nofollow links serve distinct purposes. Nofollow links instruct search engine crawlers not to follow links on your page, while Noindex instructs search engines not to add your page to their search engine ranking database. 

Outbound Links Vs Internal Links

Outbound links are backlinks that you add to your content that connect the page to a third-party website. In comparison, internal links are backlinks that connect one page of your website to another, keeping users on the same domain.