Dofollow and nofollow. These are concepts which are hard to explain to people who have never really been interested in SEO or who are starting to learn about the world of search. These two terms are highly important when it comes to working in a content marketing environment. It’s essentially the do or die in terms of obtaining something that’ll be useful or something that might not be so useful.
I’ll try to explain nofollow as simply as possible as my future role will be explaining what these different SEO initiatives are. Nofollow is essentially an instruction to search engines to tell search bots (Google bot, Yahoo Bot, Bing Bot) that surf the web that a link should not pass value.
This is what a nofollow attribute or instruction would look like in HTML format:
<a href="http://google.co.uk" alt="nofollow"> >Google.co.uk</a>
(This link is nofollow’ed)
So what does this mean exactly?
It essentially means that my blog (jargoned.com) is not passing value to Google.co.uk as I’ve included the nofollow attribute or instruction within the HTML code above. Search engines will scan this bit of code and they will read the “nofollow” value and they won’t count this link and you will not rank any higher in search results because the link has been nofollow’d.
Search engines like Google have to have ways to deal with spam and the nofollow attribute gives the option to web owners to nofollow links that have obviously been paid for and to not get penalised for accepting those paid links. Essentially Google looks at paid links as people trying to change or modify the search results unnaturally. Natural link building would usually only involve onsite content that would be of high quality and that would gain traction around the web with people linking to that content without any further assistance from the people who created that content. The nofollow attribute became mainstream when Google announced in 2005 that they would start using the nofollow attribute. They also announced that the nofollow attribute should be used for paid links and that sites could potentially be penalised if they were not nofollow’ing links that had been paid for. This is why nofollow is so crucial to content marketing, as you’d want to preferably be scoring links that are follow links and that have no “nofollow” attributes attached to them; however you don’t want to make it looks obvious in Google’s eyes that you’ve paid for certain links or that you’ve unnaturally made an action that would create a link. – Google will penalise you and this can be quite detrimental as Google have control of 89% of the search engine market.
Rant (No need to read this bit)
I frequent quite a few forums and there is one forum called Digital Point, and in 2011 the forum owner nofollow’d everyone’s forum signatures unless you paid for “Premium membership”. I’ve posted on Digital Point over 1,000 times and before they made the change I had 1,000 links on Digital Point pointing to my websites. Once they made the change I lost over 1,000 follow back links as they nofollow’d them. Whilst all the 1,000 links were from the same site, it was still unfortunate that I lost that many links to my websites’ back link profiles. However, if I recall, the argument that forum members were making were that people who were genuinely contributing with good quality posts were being negatively affected by this change in policy. In my personal opinion I can’t blame the owner of Digital Point for making that decision as people were just registering up and posting a couple times to get a signature link on Digital Point which is the largest digital marketing forum on the internet.