Are We Sure Nofollow Links Are Worth Nothing?

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Google’s official position on Nofollow Links, rel=”nofollow” is pretty straightforward. This is their claim:  “In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links.”  Should we take this at face value? Not exactly. Part of the problem is that most of the people who pay too much attention to whether or not a link is nofollow are thinking exclusively about search engine benefit, and this is a mistake.

In fact, Google’s own statement is that if you wouldn’t obtain a link if Google didn’t exist, you are probably violating there terms of service. If Google wants webmasters to behave as though it didn’t exist, it’s best not to let the algorithms weigh to heavily on any decision.

With all of that in mind, here are a few reasons why nofollow links are definitely worth obtaining.

1. Natural Link Profile

If you avoid links just because they are Nofollow Links, it probably means you are dealing with types of links that you would otherwise avoid in the first place. Only links that actually serve to promote your site pass very much search engine benefit to begin with, so these are the kinds of links you should be going after.

Anybody who is thinking like a marketer will obtain any link they can if it has a reasonable chance of promoting their site. Those who don’t will only send a suspicious message to Google.


2. Traffic

It is possible to obtain a huge amount of traffic from nofollow links in the right places. To begin with, Google is not opposed to buying paid links if they are nofollowed. This presents a tremendous marketing opportunity to buy referral traffic from popular sites.

Additionally, most social networks consist of nofollow links. It’s no secret that social networks are also a great source of highly targeted traffic if you use them properly.

Finally, traffic itself ultimately becomes a source of links. The larger your traffic count, the more likely a blogger will come across your site and like what they see. Obviously, this means that some of these bloggers will ultimately link to you with “dofollow” links.


3. Google Panda

While Google may not analyze nofollow links directly as a source of authority, they are analyzing an enormous number of signals as part of the Panda algorithms. While they haven’t revealed exactly what these factors are, many in the industry suspect that Google is analyzing user behavior in order to measure engagement and other trust signals.

It would be surprising if Google was not analyzing traffic sources to determine how authoritative a site is. The more traffic a site receives from sources other than Google, the more Google wants your site to rank well in the search results. Since nofollow links can be a great source of traffic, there’s a good chance that they also help improve rankings.

If the link is especially relevant and posted in the right place, it can bring the kind of targeted traffic that stays on your site, visits multiple pages, and returns to your site more than once. Google is undoubtedly watching this traffic and using it to determine how much users enjoy interacting with your site. For this reason, there is no reason to turn down a good nofollow link, even if all you are thinking about is purse SEO.


4. Nofollow Links is Just a Warning

It’s so easy to set up a website today that not everybody knows what they are doing, and just because a webmaster puts rel=”nofollow” into a link, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the site they are linking to is no good.

Many in the industry believe that Google recognizes this, and considers Nofollow Links to be a mere warning that the link might not be relevant. As Google’s algorithms become more accurate, it becomes increasingly likely that the search engine will make the call. Certainly, a large amount of chatter about a website on forums and social networks indicates that something interesting is happening.

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Vishal Gaikar

Article by Vishal

I am Vishal Gaikar, Software Engineer, Web Addicted,
Living in Maharashtra, India.
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