Dofollow vs nofollow backlinks

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What is a dofollow backlink?

Dofollow backlink passes the authority (link juice) from the referring website to the linked website. Crawlers count these links and their anchor texts. Therefore, dofollow backlinks directly influence your backlink profile because they send a signal to search engines what is the linked website about.

What is a nofollow backlink?

Nofollow backlink does not pass the authority because the tag rel=”nofollow” in the HTML code of the website tells crawlers not to follow these backlinks. Google does not transfer the authority or anchor text across nofollow links.

New link attributes

In September 2019, Google announced two new link attributes as an evolution of the nofollow attribute to have new ways to identify the nature of links. For almost 15 years “nofollow” was the only way for flagging sponsored or advertised links. From now on, there are 3 ways to flag these links:

rel=”sponsored”

Use it for links that are part of advertisements, sponsored or in other way compensated cooperation.

rel=”ugc”

UGC means User Generated Content. Use it for user generated content such as forum posts and comments.

rel=”nofollow”

Use it for links when you don’t want to pass any ranking credit (link juice) to the linked page.

All three attributes will be used as hints which links should Google include or exclude in Search.

Do I need to change the link attributes on my website?

No. The nofollow tag remains supported as it was all the time. Though the three attributes already work, the nofollow will become a hint for crawling and indexing purposes on March 1, 2020.

How to check whether the backlink is dofollow or nofollow?

There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Use browser SEO extensions
  2. Check the HTML code
  3. Use backlink analysis tools

SEO extensions

Various browser extensions will help you to detect dofollow or nofollow backlinks. For example, in the one by Mangools, you can see it both for the outbound links of the website and referring websites.

How to check dofollow nofollow backlinks

HTML code

If you know where the backlink is placed, the easiest way is to take a look at the HTML code of the referring website:

1. Right-click on the anchor text and select “Inspect” or “Inspect element” (it can differ depending on the browser) or press “Ctrl+Shift+I” in Chrome

How to inspect html code to find link attributes

2. Check the code. If you don’t find the tag rel=”nofollow”, you can be calm because the link is dofollow.

html code of backlink

To recap, this is a code example of a dofollow link:

<a href=”https://example.com”>anchor text</a>

This is a code example of a nofollow link:

<a href=”https://example.com” rel=”nofollow”>anchor text</a>

Backlink analysis tools

If you are analyzing your own or competitor’s link profile and don’t know what backlinks the website has, neither their anchor texts nor placements, you will find this information in backlink analysis tools such as LinkMiner.

  1. Enter the domain you want to find backlinks for.
  2. Click on the backlinks in the left table and when the referring website loads in the right part of the screen, click on the anchor text to find it.
LinkMiner backlink tool

Is it bad to have nofollow backlinks?

No, it’s not. However, earning dofollow links from authoritative websites is better since the tag rel=”nofollow” tells crawlers not to pass the authority. On top of that, an optimized anchor text gives a keyword relevance signal to the crawlers.

Many times, the type of the links depends on your link building campaign:

  1. Earn backlinks from authoritative websites
  2. Get a lot of referral traffic

The first option means that you will seek dofollow backlinks. Generally, if you are doing an email outreach or other link building techniques, the other side should understand that you are not interested in nofollow links.

On the other hand, if your plan is only to get a lot of referral traffic, you don’t need to worry that much about the “nofollow” attribute.

Quick tip:
Make sure to check your DF/NF ratio and the overall trend of your backlinks regularly or at least from time to time. Majority of the links earned naturally tend to be dofollow but seeing the nofollow ones gives you an opportunity to contact those people to change them to dofollow.

One of the ways to analyze the link profile is to use SiteProfiler:

  1. Enter the domain (alternatively URL)
  2. Scroll to the “Backlinks” section
Nofollow vs. dofollow backlink ratio charts
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