October 11, 2023

What Is the Difference between Follow and Nofollow Links?

Backlinks have always been among Google’s top ranking factors. Despite their importance reducing with each consecutive algorithm update, they’re still the 3rd most important factor for ranking success in 2023. As such, our in-house SEO experts have put together this guide that goes through the different types of backlinks and how to implement follow and nofollow tags properly. But first, what’s the difference between follow and nofollow links?

The main difference between the two is that ‘follow’ links pass link equity (also known as ‘link juice’) to a website, which enhances its authority. On the other hand, ‘nofollow’ links don’t pass authority. Follow links are more beneficial for SEO, although nofollow links can still bring value to your website.

Let’s look into how exactly you apply those links and best practices for making use of both follow and nofollow links as part of your link building strategy.

Follow Vs. Nofollow Links – What’s the Difference?

You might already know that backlinks are key for building your website’s visibility online. They help improve your website’s authority in the eyes of search engines and can also bring more traffic. 

But did you know that not all links are created equal? 

Whenever you add a link (internal or external), you can select the type of link: follow or nofollow. But what’s the difference?

What is a Follow Link?

Follow links (sometimes also called ‘dofollow links’) pass link equity. They’re usually the default setting on most CMS, so whenever you add a link, it would be a follow link unless you manually change the setting to otherwise.

To check whether a link is a follow or otherwise, open the page code and find the link attribute. Then, look for the ‘rel’ attribute. If there isn’t one, then it’s a follow link.

Example: in our recent ‘How Many Backlinks Do I Need to Rank?’ blog, we’ve added a link to our ‘Knowledge Base’ and this is what the link attribute in the code looks like. It has no rel attribute, so it’s a follow link.

Wildcat tip: there are handy Chrome extensions, such as SEOquake that can show you whether a link is a follow or nofollow directly on the page; perfect if you want to save time and avoid opening the page code!

Significance of Follow Links

Backlinks are a direct ranking factor. In particular, you should aim to build follow links from relevant, quality websites as these are the links that will have the highest positive impact on your website. 

Websites with quality follow backlinks benefit from:

What is a Nofollow Link?

Unlike follow links, nofollow links don’t pass authority. They have a rel attribute that indicates that search engines should pay less attention, almost ignore, that specific link. This is what the attribute looks like:

rel=”nofollow”

Example: our website was recently featured on Top Design Firm’s  100 Search Engine Marketing Companies In The United Kingdom. The link we received was a nofollow link, which you can see in the code. 

Bonus: You can see on the left that the ‘Visit site’ and ‘Wildcat Digital Ltd.’ text is crossed out; this is how the SEOquake extension indicates those are nofollow links.

You might be wondering why nofollow links exist. Well, they were initially introduced to tackle spam. Up until a few years ago, websites engaged in black hat SEO tactics, which involved link manipulation and buying backlinks with the aim of boosting website ranks. 

For example, one of those tactics involved adding comments on other websites with your website’s URL as a way to build backlinks to your own website. With the nofollow attribute, you can simply mark any links like those as nofollow, putting you more in control of which websites you want to give authority to.

Do Nofollow Links Help SEO?

There’s often the misconception that just because nofollow links don’t pass authority, they’re not beneficial for SEO, but that’s not really the case.

Nofollow links are in fact beneficial for SEO as they:

The bottom line? Even though nofollow links might not have the same weight as follow links, they are still better than no links.

When Should I Use Follow and Nofollow Links?

As a rule of thumb, stick to follow links and avoid using nofollow links unless you’re linking to untrusted or low-quality external websites to which you don’t want to pass link equity. Here are some best practices:

Follow Links Best Practices

Nofollow Links Best Practices

How Do I Add Nofollow Links?

The way to add a nofollow link would depend on your CMS.

WordPress

When you add a link to text on WordPress, there is usually an Advanced section, in which you can select the type of link you want it to be. By default, the link would be follow, unless you mark it as nofollow.

Shopify

The easiest way to add a nofollow attribute to a link on Shopify is to go to the HTML code of the text field where the link is; there should normally be a </> button that leads you to it. There, find the a href attribute and add the rel nofollow attribute as shown in the example below.

Tip: if you want all external links to be nofollow, there’s a way to set that up on Shopify; simply follow this tutorial.

Unsure Whether to Use Follow or Nofollow Links?

Here at Wildcat Digital, we have a wealth of experience working with a range of websites and ensuring links are set up properly is just a small part of what we do. If you need any advice or help with building backlinks and monitoring performance, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. We take a holistic approach to everything we do, so we’d be more than happy to speak with you and provide advice on other areas of SEO.

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Svetlina Dimitrova

Will Hitchmough

Founder

Our founder, Will Hitchmough, worked at a number of high profile Sheffield Digital Agencies before founding Wildcat Digital in 2018. He brings an extensive knowledge of all things related to SEO, PPC and Paid Social, as well as an expert knowledge of digital strategy.

Digital Marketing can be a minefield for many businesses, with many agencies ready to take your money without knowing how to deliver results. I founded Wildcat Digital to deliver digital success to businesses with smaller budgets in a transparent way.

Chloe Robinson

Content Strategist Team Lead

With a degree in Marketing and a background in more traditional, offline marketing, Chloe joined Wildcat in 2021 after deciding to move into the digital marketing industry. She joined us as a Content Specialist and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a Content Strategist and later an SEO Team Leader.

Outside of work, Chloe is an avid creative. If she’s not knitting, you’ll likely find her behind a sewing machine or in the kitchen trying (and often failing!) to make sourdough.

Paul Pennington

SEO Account Director

Paul has a strong background in SEO, having previously founded and ran a successful eCommerce business, as well as running a personal blog that achieves an average of 17K users per month. Paul’s knowledge of SEO is extensive, with a strong emphasis on client handling and technical SEO.

Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and staying active with weight lifting and combat sports.

Nadea van der Merwe

Head of Operations

Nadea joined Wildcat in 2021 and has since overhauled the way we work. She has a background in various administrative, operations and HR roles, which gave her the experience and skills needed to lead and organise a growing business. 

Outside of work, Nadea loves anything that keeps her active, but she especially enjoys hiking, camping and mountain biking.

Molly Sturgeon

SEO Account Manager

With a background in sales, Molly is a natural Account Manager, brilliantly handling any issues that come her way. Having joined us as a Digital Marketing Executive, and working part-time through her final year of University, Molly is a shining example of how hard work pays off. She is now an SEO Account Manager with a particular interest in Content and Client Management. 

In her spare time, Molly loves to get out in nature, hiking and exploring the Peak District. She also loves cooking and likes to unwind with a bit of yoga.

Libby Oldale

Senior PPC Account Manager

Libby joined Wildcat in 2021 as our first PPC hire. With a degree in Digital Media Production, a Master’s in Digital Media Management and previous experience in Social Media Management, Libby hit the ground running and has since climbed the ranks to Senior PPC Account Manager and has a particular interest in the eCommerce sector.

Outside of work, Libby likes gaming, and cooking and likes to keep active by lifting weights.

Jasmine Savery

SEO Team Leader

Jasmine joined Wildcat in 2022 with a strong background in SEO and Account Management. At the time, she was finishing up a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and has since worked her way up to SEO Team Leader. Jasmine excels at content writing and promotion, and particularly enjoys finding creative ways to join the dots on multi-channel campaigns.

In her spare time, Jasmine volunteers at a charity, helping combat loneliness & social isolation experienced by older neighbours. Outside of Wildcat, she owns a catering company, Savery Grazing, creating delicious grazing tables & platters for a range of events. She also loves skiing and exploring the Peak District.

Braden Godley

Senior PPC Executive

Prior to joining Wildcat, Braden founded and ran his own Social Media Management agency where he gained valuable skills in growing brands’ online presence, which has since proven invaluable in his role at Wildcat. 

Outside of work, Braden is a big football fan, regularly travelling to Pride Park to support Derby County. He also enjoys watching and playing snooker, hiking in the Peak District, and attending air and car shows.

Jon Herdman

SEO Executive

After spending ten years managing businesses, restaurants, cafes and event spaces across Sheffield, Jon decided to change careers and joined Wildcat as an SEO Executive in 2022. He especially enjoys the client management side of the job, helping them to understand digital marketing and ways in which they can build their business’s presence online. 

Outside of work, Jon likes to keep fit with running, badminton and football, and also loves music. 

Rachel Davies

SEO Executive

Rachel joined us as a graduate, having recently graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in English Literature. Since joining, Rachel has proven herself to be a Content Queen, and particularly enjoys getting stuck into projects that allow her to explore her creative side. 

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including rugby, singing, reading, and spending time with her family and three labradors.

Carl Atterbury

PPC Team Leader

Carl joined Wildcat in 2023 with a wealth of experience in PPC. He has experience working with a wide range of clients, industries and budgets, from small local businesses all the way to international e-commerce businesses. Carl has a particular interest in strategic planning and forecasting. He is passionate about data analysis and creating sustainable long-term cross-channel strategies.

In his spare time, Carl enjoys keeping fit by lifting weights, bouldering and running. He’s also a keen musician, having played the double bass and bass guitar for 20 years.

Dariusz Baczyk

Team Lead & Technical SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Computer Science and SEO experience dating back to 2017, Dariusz has a wide range of SEO skills and knowledge. His specialist knowledge of Technical SEO has firmly landed him the title of Wildcat’s Technical Wizard, and he has recently taken on the responsibility of Team Leader for the Panthers Team.

In his spare time, Dariusz loves hiking, experimenting and trying new coffees and loves learning new things. He is currently learning more about CRO and AI and how this could benefit our clients.

Jamie Stowe

SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Film and TV production, and a varied career history, Jamie made the move to marketing with a Masters degree in Digital Media Management. He has since worked in SEO at Agencies across Sheffield, before joining Wildcat and working his way up to SEO Account Manager. Jamie has a particular interest in backlinks and Digital PR and has recently gained a client a valuable backlink from Forbes!

In his spare time, Jamie is an avid foodie and loves trying new restaurants and cuisines. He also loves to travel and spent a year travelling to Australia after university.

Andy Blanchard

SEO Executive

Andy joined Wildcat in 2023 after starting his digital marketing career in-house for a local Sheffield company. Since joining, he has developed a strong interest in Technical SEO and has strong skills in Account Management. 

Outside of work, Andy loves music and plays in a couple of bands. He also enjoys rock climbing, cycling, photography and good food.

Siena Russell

Client Success Coordinator

Siena joined us in 2023 with a background in sales and digital marketing. She leads on client relationships across the company, ensuring that our customers are happy throughout their journey with us, from their initial consultation through to onboarding and beyond. 

Outside of work, Siena enjoys travelling and getting stuck into the local culture. She likes to make the most of her experiences and particularly enjoys watching sunrises and sunsets from beautiful locations around the world.

Thea Chapman

Senior SEO Executive

Thea has a wealth of experience in SEO, having previously worked for other Digital Marketing Agencies in Sheffield. She has a particular interest and skills in Technical SEO, but is more than willing to get stuck in and give anything a go. 

Outside of work, Thea spends most of her time with her children, but also loves reading, photography and gardening. 

Tom Brookes

PPC Executive

Before joining Wildcat, Tom worked across different industries, building skills in sales and customer service. He later developed a passion for digital marketing whilst working on personal marketing projects and freelance ventures, and gained numerous certifications in PPC and Social Media. 

Outside of work, Tom enjoys staying active by going to the gym and hiking. He also loves travelling and motorbiking.

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