Are Nofollow Links Important for SEO?


In the world of SEO, links play a crucial role, but not all links are created equal. From my experience, understanding the nuances of different types of links, such as nofollow links, is crucial for building a strong, natural-looking link profile. Let me break down what you need to know.

What are Nofollow Links?

Nofollow links are HTML attributes added to hyperlinks with the code rel=”nofollow”. This tells search engines to ignore the link in terms of passing on any “link juice” or ranking power. Initially, this attribute was introduced in 2005 to combat spam comments in blogs by instructing search engines not to follow these links. However, the role of nofollow links has evolved. Now, they are considered hints by Google, meaning they might choose to follow them under certain conditions.

How Google Evaluates Link Profiles

Google’s evaluation of a link profile is not just about counting links. It looks at the quality and naturalness of these links. A mix of dofollow and nofollow links can make your backlink profile appear more natural. Google is wary of sketchy or unnatural links and values those found on easily crawlable pages. Seed pages, or highly reputable pages, are particularly influential even if the links they provide are nofollow.

The Importance of Acquiring Nofollow Backlinks

Yes, acquiring nofollow backlinks is important. They might not pass ranking power directly, but they contribute to a natural link profile. Nofollow links from social media, forums, and comments sections can still drive traffic and lend credibility to your site. They can also act as a signal to Google, especially since Google has started to treat nofollow attributes as mere hints.

Practical Tips for Building a Healthy Link Profile

Here are some actionable tips to build a strong, naturally looking link profile:

  1. Diversify Your Link Profile: Mix dofollow and nofollow links to ensure your backlink profile looks natural. Use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to analyze competitors’ backlinks for inspiration.
  2. Focus on Quality Over Quantity: A link from a reputable, relevant site, even if nofollow, is more valuable than many low-quality links.
  3. Leverage Social Media: Links from social media may be nofollow, but they are natural and can drive significant traffic.
  4. Engage in Communities: Participate in forums, comment sections, and discussion boards relevant to your niche. Even if the links are nofollow, they contribute to your site’s visibility and traffic.
  5. Content is King: Create shareable, high-quality content that naturally earns both dofollow and nofollow links.
  6. Monitor Your Link Profile: Regularly review your link profile to ensure it remains natural-looking and diverse.

Examples of Desirable Nofollow Links:

  • Social media profiles and posts
  • Comments on relevant blogs
  • Forums and discussion boards in your niche
  • Wikipedia (yes, these are nofollow but highly credible)
  • News sites and online magazines

Understanding Link Attributes:

AttributeDescriptionPasses Link Juice?
rel=”ugc”User-generated contentNo
rel=”sponsored”Paid or sponsored linksNo
rel=”nofollow”General nofollow attributeMaybe

Note: There are no “dofollow” attributes. Links without a nofollow, ugc, or sponsored attribute are considered dofollow by default but can still be devalued if deemed unnatural or spammy.

Advanced Tips for SEO Specialists:

  • Scale Link Pillowing: Distribute linked content on platforms like Pinterest to scale your link pillowing effectively.
  • Embrace Aggressive Tactics Sparingly: With a diversified and natural-looking profile, you can afford to experiment with more aggressive link-building strategies, but do so cautiously.
  • Acquire Public and Educational Links: Links from governmental and educational sites are valuable, even if nofollow.


In conclusion, nofollow links are an integral part of any SEO strategy, providing a balance and natural feel to your link profile. By understanding and strategically acquiring nofollow links, you can enhance your site’s SEO performance while maintaining a credible and organic backlink landscape.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the role and types of nofollow links.
  • Strive for a natural, diversified link profile.
  • Value the quality of links over their follow status.
  • Regularly review and adjust your link-building strategies.
  • Embrace nofollow links from credible sources for a balanced SEO approach.
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