Do-follow Links vs No-follow Links - Does it really matter?

By Samuel Frost
Do-follow Links vs No-follow Links - Does it really matter?


One of the biggest debates in the SEO world (and one that shows absolutely no signs of ever going away) is the do-follow vs no-follow links debate. There is one camp who stringently argue that the only links worth anything are do-follow ones; on the other hand, there is a group who say that it doesn't really matter.

So who is right and who is wrong? Is there any hard evidence when it comes to do-follow vs no-follow and their importance to the humble affiliate marketer? 

The Do-Follow Links Argument

The proponents of the "do-follow only" camp have a pretty logical argument backing them up. In terms of SEO value ("link juice", to use the nomenclature) Google should theoretically only count do-follow links. Any link that is no-follow has a direct and clear instruction telling search engines to ignore it. Think of the rel=nofollow tag as one of those detour signs you occasionally see. The street is still there, it's just you're being told to pass by it.

The No-Follow Links Argument

On the flip side of the coin, some people believe that no follow links actually do provide some form of link benefit. Over and above this, they can provide great referral traffic from people clicking through your links. An excellent example of useful no follow links are blog comment links. The vast majority of blogs are no follow these days, which was put in place to discourage comment spam. Howevever, a well-place blog comment on a popular blog can deliver hundreds of visitors in a very short space of time. 

Wikipedia is another great example of the usefulness of no follow links. Way back in the day, Wikipedia links were actually do-follow. But then link spammers caught on to the fact that this was a huge authority site that anyone could edit add their own links to. No-follow links were introduced on Wikipedia to directly combat this. However, a link from Wikipedia even today still makes your site look more credible, and more to the point, you can get lots of referral traffic from it. One of my websites recently got a link from Wikipedia (it was credited as a source) on a fairly obscure article, but that single little link still sends around 100 visitors a month. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

The Evidence

There isn't really much solid evidence to back any side of this argument up. In fact, when it comes to SEO everything is an inexact science. What works for one person may not necessarily work for you. That being said, I strongly urge you to take a "balanced" and holistic approach to link building.

Build a stable of quality, context-relevant do-follow links to your website to boost it up the search engine rankings. Guest blogging, blog networks, web directories, and article marketing, these are just a few ways to get do follow links to your site that will help deliver that all important link juice. Check out the Affilorama SEO lessons for more great link building ideas.

Then, once you've done that, start building some no follow links from blog commenting, forums (some forums are no follow) and other places that are going to deliver you high quantities of referral traffic. If you can pre-sell effectively then big bucks await from quality referral traffic. Having an opt-in newsletter list is even better, as you can seize that traffic and keep them in your sales loop over and over again.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is simple - do-follow links provide better "link juice" for boosting your website up the search engine rankings. This cannot be denied. However, no-follow links can often be highly context-relevant, and come from sources that are likely to generate greater levels of referral traffic. In addition to this, search engines are more likely to regard a mixture of both types of links as following a "natural" link profile. This is a good thing, as an unnatural link profile is much more likely to see you booted from the front page of Google for SEO malpractice.

Therefore, it is prudent practice to balance do-follow links with no-follow ones. I wouldn't stress too much about whether the links you are getting are do-follow or no-follow. In fact, I wouldn't stress about it at all. Why? The reason is simple - if you are actually out there actively building links to your site, you are taking action, and that counts for more than anything.

What are your personal thoughts on the do-follow vs no-follow links debate? I'm sure your opinion probably differs greatly from mine, and I'd absolutely love to hear it. Just leave a comment below and get the discussion started. 


View all 174 comments (Currently displaying latest 50)

Cody 12 years ago
My experience has been that there has been some benefit to the no follow links. I have a specific page where the page authority increased by three points based only on no follow links.
12 years ago
I don't dislike the nofollow attribute- Don't get me wrong it's not a bad thing, it just doesn't give a link any credence and clearly states that the owner has no trust whatsoever in the persons site that he/ she has agreed to link to. It should be noted as well that Google actually takes into account the link juice that would have been passed onto the "nofollowed" site and subtracts that from the site sending the nofollow link. In effect, a nofollow may save you from a "bad neighbourhood" but that is all it'll do.
Ritz 12 years ago

Great Post. Wanted to understand, how do we come to know if my link to any website is a do follow or no follow.
mallikarjuna ganadi 12 years ago
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Richard Bowles 12 years ago
Google constantly talks about 'relevant content'. Probably now some of the most important sites in terms of directing relevant content links (wiki and the like) are no-follow. Strikes me that Google algos are likely to still place some weight on no-follow. When we work for clients, we have a strict SEP policy of building good content and links from sites with good content. This involves a mix of follow and no-follow. However, I'd say it's probably weighted more to no-follow links. Doesn't seem to have done any of our clients any harm...
zizzle Green 12 years ago
Very good post managed to explain quite a lot
David 12 years ago
Most of my backlinks indicated in my Google Webmaster Tools metrics are 'no follow'. I have to assume the presence of these links in GWT means they are factored into the Google ranking algorithm. My websites with such 'no follow' backlinks have page rank as well as visibility in Google search results.
Mario Smith 12 years ago
I've been researching a lot of information on the topic and your article has helped me a bunch. These comments have been helpful as well. Great Blog :)
Backflow Installation 12 years ago
Well, yes dofollow is for page rank and nofollow is also best for getting good traffic.
Hugh Grigg 12 years ago
I happened to get a little source link from a fairly obscure Wikipedia article (someone else cited my site - I didn't put it there), and that page immediately ranked higher in Google and became a sitelink in the search result for my site. From that it seems pretty clear to me that nofollow links can still carry a lot of weight in Google.
Chankey Pathak 12 years ago
Thanks but I have one doubt. What's the difference between Text and Text?
Lisa 12 years ago
Thanks for the clarification.
Oyun Gator 12 years ago
It is a very good article. I have to agreed with Sam. But dofollow maybe better in link juice, the best if you get both dofollow and nofollow backlinks.
John Puno 12 years ago
Hi Sam,

Very good article about do follow and no follow links. I have been researching about this topic for a while now and the discussions here give me better understanding about the two.

Well, may this year be fruitful for all of us! Thanks for sharing.

Ben Linus 12 years ago
I totally agree with Sam, a backlink is a backlink is a backlink. I will happily take them anyway I can get them. My last blog which was built just a month or two ago linkapedia is number one in Google and was done so by using a combination of do follow and nofollow backlinks. The traffic by being in the number one spot on Google has really started to pickup. I have had really good luck getting ranked in first and second place following this simple strategy in very short time with this and a few other blogs.
SpringBrett 11 years ago
It's hard to hard to believe that no follow links are important. But I guess this is the thing with ranking factors, you just don't know anything for sure.
Laura Wolf 11 years ago
Due to the latest updates, now there is a need for nofollow links as well as dofollow. Indeed, if you want to get traffic, chances are that you will get more of these from nofollow links.
Albert 11 years ago
I think No follow links fro images are not good practice. Because google webmaster shows no follow tags for images. Please tell me is this right to do image no follow?
Mary Lucas 11 years ago
I generally do both, though it's getting very hard to find blogs that are do follow as you say. Even if you do find them that doesn't mean they will still be do follow tomorrow. I think Google needs to (and probably does) take into account how hard it is getting. I bet no follow links do indeed pass some link juice, albeit not as much as do follow. So many differing opinions however, one can really never know.
Rosalind 11 years ago
Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Appreciate it
fixmart iphone 11 years ago
I use the links that are not consecutive and it works fine
Chris Naish 11 years ago
Hi Samuel,

You're right about this debate never going away me thinks. lol

I did an experiment on sidebar links with Andy Bailey from CommentLuv on whether or not sidebar links can hurt your site and we utilized a nofollow link followed by a dofollow link to see what the effects would be.

This was about the same time you originally posted this article so my info is a little dated but it's the closest thing I've seen to evidence on dofollow/nofollow links working and how well each works.

Hate to be a link dropper but I think you'll find it highly relevant to your article.

ajeet singh 11 years ago
This article states transparency in no follow and do follow. This is obvious that we get back-link form both the link building. And it's highly acceptable that do follow back links are more traffics drawn and make increase SERP.

Ajeet Singh
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hudixt dixit 11 years ago
Which cms are you using for this site and do nofollow links matters to you
Samuel Frost 11 years ago
Hi we are using a custom CMS for Affilorama based on CakePHP - do you like the theme of the site?

As far as the second part of your question goes, I don't really have any objections at all to no-follow links (and my opinion has not changed since I wrote this blog post over a year ago).

I still target no-follow links with great frequency for all my websites, but I also never turn down a good do-follow link.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that I spend more time these days focusing on creating content and delivering it in unique ways, as well as email marketing. I strongly believe that the days of putting linking before content are coming to an end, as I outlined here:

And here:

Let me know if you have any more questions.
Sanjev 11 years ago
Thanks great info man
I need some more SEO tips for my website
Kundan 10 years ago
I have read the differences between the do follow and no follow link and I have read that do follow links help you to increase your Google page rank where as no follow link will prevent you from spammer. But the question is I am going to link to a website how will I know that the website will give me a do follow or no follow link. I have also read that I can go to the page source and look for rel="nofollow" link. When I checked than most of the site has nofollow link
Ravi 10 years ago
We provide SEO for small firms and individuals. As buying do-follow links is ruled out due the paucity of funds & not many sites willing to link out to us, the no-follow links have become the mainstay.Your site has always been a source of learning for us. What we learn here , we try to put it in practice. Thanks again for showing the way...
sandro 10 years ago
I want to to thank you for your help it was good information for me.

and 1 more question , does no follow links hurm my site?
Cassandra Outlaw 10 years ago
As far as I know, nofollow links does not hurt. But spam will definitely hurt. Most importantly, you should remember "SEO is not like mathematics that you use certain formula and the problem is solved". :)
Muriel 10 years ago
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Cecille Loorluis 10 years ago
Hi Muriel,

Thanks for your comment!

I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion caused. If you've already registered to Affilorama, then you are subscribed to the Affilorama newsletter.

Please get in touch with us through the contact form on our support page ( if you're not receiving any Affilorama newsletters.

Hope that helps. Have a good day!
Donnell 10 years ago
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Melissa Johnson 10 years ago
Donnell, our site doesn't support anything below IE9. We recommend updating your browser, or if possible, switching to Chrome, which you can download here:
Annie 10 years ago
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Melissa Johnson 10 years ago
Annie, we use Rackspace (
Martha 10 years ago
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Melissa Johnson 10 years ago

Here's our contact page:
Delia 10 years ago
I do agree with all of the ideas you've presented in your post. They're very convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for beginners. May just you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.
Richard Chitman 10 years ago
Just learning the system but I can see the benefit of have and not having the links that you talked about in your conclusion. No Follow will provide me with much better relevant followers that may turn into potential customers.
eskişehir travestileri 9 years ago
My experience has been that there has been some benefit to the no follow links. I have a specific page where the page authority increased by three points based only on no follow links.
Mia 6 years ago
The problem with testing it is that you need nofollows from great sites - Wikipedia is just one example
ravikiran001 6 years ago
Yes, do follow links gets us dofollow backlinks and no follow links gets us no follow backlinks. But google considers the ratio as 60:40. so if you can do more dofollow submissions, you will get more backlinks i.e quality backlinks.
shiv kumar 5 years ago
Do follow backing delivers link juice to the pointed sites and in No follow backlinks No Link Juice pass to the pointed sites. In SEO Important of Do follow and No follow backlinks is very powerful to gain more traffic and ranking.
Saam 5 years ago
I am really thankful to you for explaining No Follow and Do Follow concept. The recent Panda and Penguin update depicts that they are considering both No-Follow and Do-Follow for site rankings. Thanks again for explaining the concept. Regards saam
Johnnie R. Boner 4 years ago
This post is very helpful. i have no idea about dofollow and nofollow links. But when i read this post i got full concept.i hope it help us to rank our website.Thank you buddy for share this post.

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