Are “No-follow” Links valuable for SEO?

Effective SEO involves building links from other websites to your own. There are lots of ways to build links, many of them wrong. But there are only two types of links, known as follow and no-follow.

What exactly do these terms mean? Both types of links appear similar to users, the difference is in how they show up to web crawlers. No-follow links are coded with instructions for web crawlers not to follow the link.

The debate over no-follow links

There are some who believe that no-follow links are useless in terms of SEO and that it is pointless to put any effort into into getting no-follow links from 3rd party sites. This isn’t entirely accurate, though, and here’s why.

It’s unclear whether search engines pay any attention to no-follow links, but there is evidence that Google does place at least some weight on no-follow links, provided the link meets certain criteria, such as being from a highly-ranked and relevant site. There is, however, some experts differ in their opinions on this.

Even if they don’t influence search engines, even a no-follow link, if it’s in the right place, will still go a long way toward raising awareness of your site, product or service. If a no-follow link brings extra business, then it’s not exactly pointless. A positive review of your site is going to bring visitors, whether it makes any difference with search engines or not.

Once your site is noticed and written about by one person, the chances increase that others will notice you, because of that one popular blog that included a no-follow link to your site. The more people who notice you, the more links you’ll get, and some of them will be follow links.

So if you’ve been working hard to earn some links to your site and you find that some of them are no-follows, there’s no need to stress yourself out about it. There is evidence that search engines still notice, and even if they don’t, people will.

Photo Credit: “Google Logo in Building43” (CC BY 2.0) by Robert Scoble