I hear it all the time – through forums, through conversation and all sorts of other channels.
Oh, I don’t want that link – it’s a nofollowIt’s exactly this type of mentality that can actually go against you and hinder your rankings. Why? Well the search engines know about link building, I mean come on – it’s part of their algorithm for choosing who should rank and where. It’s an important part of Search Engine Optimisation, one that I personally always stress that if you could only choose one SEO factor, I would recommend link building.So how are nofollow links any use? After all – they don’t pass any link value, so why bother?Well that’s just it – there are a number of reasons to be perfectly happy with receiving, or obtaining a nofollow link but before I say what, I think it’s best to describe what a nofollow link is – in case you havent come across the term.A Little snippet from everybody’s favourite – Wikipedia states:nofollow is an HTML attribute value used to instruct some search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index. It is intended to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results.It first started to arrive on the scene to nullify the effects of blog comment spam – whereby blogs were getting hit with bogus comments just to leave a link in order to help boost their rankings.
Known amongst the SEO Geeks (not me I swear ) as a “link condom” – it effectively blocked any search engine value being passed to where the link was pointing to.So – as you can see, if you want to rank high, there is no point in obtaining these links. Well I get a bit tired of that one dimensional view from other SEO’s. Yes they are right, but what they don’t seem to grasp is that you can get traffic from those links too! Not only that, but Yahoo and MSN/Bing, don’t pay too much attention to nofollow, so you can’t forget about them!Google, really annoyed me a few months back when they appeared to take a whole u-turn on what nofollow actually did. I spent time utilising this attribute to help maximise my internal linking (a whole other post) – then they announce that nofollow does still leak some form of pagerank so it’s not a complete block!So, we’ve established a few reasons why a nofollow link is actually a good idea:You can gain traffic from those links. After all, you want traffic right? Rankings are nice, but who cares if you get targeted traffic?Yahoo and MSN/Bing never really seemed to pay too much attention to the attribute, so you can still get a ranking benefit from themGoogle aren’t even sure what they want nofollow to do and it seems it still leaks some valueHowever, there was only so long Google could pay too much attention to the inbound links for a site/page – after all, if you know what you’re doing, it’s easy to game and cheat the system.
It also breeds cheating as SEO’s are always thinking of ways to get links without thinking how useful it is to the user. We just want links – period.So, what are they doing about it? Simple – they are introducing some more weight on “trust” and “authority”.
How do they calculate that? Well like any part of the Google algorithm, no one is certain but there are several factors they take into consideration (again – another post) and your inbound link portfolio plays a part.So, why would any website in the world, have the best links possible coming to them? Why would they all be “perfect” for the search engines? They wouldn’t! You can’t control who links to you, so there will be plenty of natural links out there that people have decided to link to you because they like your content and you are a great resource for their users.If you have perfectly crafted links, all followed – it just looks dodgy. It looks sculptured and unnatural. It just doesn’t happen. If you appear to be too perfect and clean you’re gonna get looked at manually – and yes at least Google do look at sites manually with humans.
The Algorithm is designed to bring up sites that require human attention and they know what to look for.So next time you get offered or acquire a nofollow link – think again about how valuable it really is in the grand scheme of things.