No-Follow VS Do-Follow Links: Key Differences

10 Free Backlink Checker Tools That Will Promise You Great Ranking
Written by Micah Phillips

No-follow links and do-follow links are both very important for your search engine optimization, though they are both completely different from each other. These differences should be kept in mind when you are working with the links on your website or blog.

Without further ado, here are the key differences between nofollow vs dofollow links and everything you need to know about these links (nofollow link HTML, how to make a link nofollow, and so on)..

What Is A No-Follow Link?

Let’s start with the nofollow link (or no-follow link). This link is based on the standard link but has an important detail in it – the rel=”nofollow” attribute. This attribute is added into the link’s HTML code which is a relatively easy process. The main point of adding the attribute and turning a regular link into a no-follow link is that this attribute shows search engines that you don’t want to pass authority from your page to the page you are linking to.

So, for example, you hired a professional writer from a writing services reviews site like Online Writers Rating who writes an article for your website. You publish the article and include some links in it. However, you don’t want the destinations of these links (the websites you are linking to) to get some of the authority your page already has.

In a way, no-follow links are pretty much pointless from the standpoint of search engine optimization. However, their initial introduction has a clear goal in mind. These links were introduced back in 2005 by Google, MSN, and Yahoo to allow website owners to have more options for fighting spam comments. Now, webmasters could “devalue” links posted by spammers by adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute into their HTML code.

What Is A Do-Follow Link?

Dofollow links don’t exist. There is no such thing as rel=”dofollow” attribute which is why you can’t actually say that there are links that can be labeled as do-follow links. So, for example, if you have a writer from a custom writing reviews site like Best Writers Online who wrote an article for your website, and you want to add the so-called do-follow links, you won’t be able to do it because there is no attribute for the corresponding function.

To put it simply, the do-follow link is the link that passes the authority to the page it is linking to (as opposed to the no-follow link). However, because there is no attribute for it, the correct name for such links would simply be “follow links”. So, the two main types of links would be follow links and no-follow links.

Though no-follow links are considered to be less useful for search engine optimizations, follow links are considered quite powerful in this sense. That being said, both follow links and no-follow links – when used correctly – can be very effective for your strategy.

What Are Other Types of Link Attributes?

Follow and no-follow links have been the only types of links for a very long time perhaps because there wasn’t any reason to get new types of links. However, in 2019, Google decided to introduce two new types of links – or rather, attributes that can be used with links.

Both of these are similar to no-follow links because they don’t pass authority to the pages they are linking to. In some sense, they are somewhat of a subcategory type of links because they are meant to specify why you want a link to lose its value and not pass any authority.

The first type is the sponsored link. In this case, you will need to add the rel=”sponsored” attribute to your link. This type of link is usually added to sponsored, affiliate, and paid links. The second type is the UGC link (or user-generated content link). This time, you will need to add the rel=”ugc” attribute. Logically, this link is most suitable for user-generated links such as comments and forum posts.

An important thing you need to remember about these two new types of attributes that you can use for your links is that they aren’t mandatory. If you already use no-follow links, you aren’t obligated to change them to sponsored or UGC links. In addition to that, you can actually combine them (for example, rel=”sponsored nofollow”) though this would probably lead to the same effect as the one singular attributes have (rel=”sponsored”).

What Are Some Relevant Link Statistics?

When it comes to link statistics, the situation is a bit complicated. Though link attributes have been around since 2005, not many studies have been conducted to actually pinpoint their usage and determine whether or not they are effective. Nevertheless, here are some relevant link statistics that could help you get a better picture of what using these links is like:

• A report published by Ahrefs in November 2017 listed the usage of different links on a client’s website and how these numbers impacted the rankings of the site. There was a total of 12,175 links with 3,922 follow links and 8,151 no-follow links. The percentage of no-follow links was 67% which is what impacted the rankings: top 3 positions (91 links), 4-10 positions (250 links), 11-50 positions (3,706 links). The strategy used by the website owner focused on content and no-follow links which led to a 67% increase in traffic.

• Fractl has also published some interesting link statistics. For instance, a Fractl client got a no-follow exclusive link from Buzzfeed. This resulted in a 271% increase in organic traffic thanks to all of the follow links that the website got thanks to that initial no-follow link from a popular website like Buzzfeed.

• Another article from Moz examined the impact of no-follow links. This includes improved brand awareness, increased profit, and more links (also demonstrated by Ahrefs). Moz also brings up the example of Joshua Unseth who got a no-follow link that led to another link, increased traffic, and lifted his article to the top search results. Around 1% of the people who read the article made a comment while around 2% blogged about it.

As you can see, the results may vary, but there are definitive examples of no-follow links in use. Of course, you may think that getting no-follow links from other websites linking to your articles won’t do much, it actually leads to direct and indirect positive outcomes.

When Do You Use These Links?

So, how do you use follow and no-follow links correctly and what kind of links should you aim to get from other websites? Here is when to use nofollow and follow links as well as their most obvious benefits:

• Follow Links: Follow links are mostly important as backlinks rather than outbound links from your website. The more follow links you have, the better your link profile will appear. That being said, no-follow links can diversify your profile and drive traffic which, in turn, leads to more follow links. The main point of having more follow links going back to your website (aka follow backlinks) is that they will boost your SEO and improve your search rankings. The higher you rank in search results, the more traffic you will generate, the more your website will be linked to, and the more your website will stand out of the crowd. In other words, getting follow links from other websites is definitely an important part of your link profile and search engine optimization as a whole, but you should still remember about other types of links (i.e. no-follow links, sponsored links, and UGC links).

• No-Follow Links: The best cases to use no-follow links include paid and product links, paid review and affiliate links, links to untrustworthy websites, links in widgets and images, guest post links, and social media buttons. Paid and product links are somewhat frowned upon by Google which is why you will either want to avoid them or always use the rel=”nofollow” attribute on them. The situation with paid review and affiliate links is pretty much the same. Untrustworthy websites are obviously not to be trusted. Widgets and images simply don’t need follow links. Guest posting is not viewed very favorably by Google either which is why you will want to no-follow links in such content. Social media buttons should also be no-followed because you wouldn’t want to transfer authority to these platforms (instead, preserve it on your own website).


To sum up, both no-follow and follow links can be very useful for your strategy. Other link types like sponsored links and UGC links can also be used to differentiate between the purposes of your devalued links. Though there aren’t many statistics available on the topic of links, there are clear examples of them at work.

The best way to use follow and no-follow links is based on the goal you are pursuing with your link. Try to get more follow backlinks from other websites, but don’t be upset when you get no-follow links because they can also lead to positive results for your website. And, of course, make sure to use the tips in this article to start using link attributes correctly!