Nofollow vs Dofollow Backlinks for SEO: Crucial to Understand

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By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Dofollow vs. Nofollow: Dofollow backlinks pass link equity, enhancing SEO, while Nofollow links, though not improving rankings directly, are valuable for referral traffic, brand exposure, and indexing. Identifying their type requires HTML inspection or browser tools like the ‘NoFollow’ Chrome extension.
Backlink Profile and SEO: A balanced mix of Dofollow and Nofollow links is crucial for a natural and trustworthy backlink profile. Other attributes like rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc” help search engines understand the context and intention behind links.
Usage and Compliance: Employ link attributes accurately and consistently, adhering to search engine guidelines to avoid negative outcomes. Stay updated with changes in SEO practices and link attribute applications for optimal website performance.

What is the Difference Between Dofollow and Nofollow Backlinks?

The biggest difference between Nofollow (rel=”nofollow”) and Dofollow (rel=”dofollow”) backlinks in SEO is that Nofollow backlinks do not pass on link equity or ‘link juice’ and Dofollow links do.

Nofollow link attribute instructs search engines to ignore the link and not pass on link equity to the page on the other side.

Dofollow link attribute, on the other hand, tells search engines that the content on the other side is relevant to the content of the referring page.

In this relationship, the referring page draws upon the authority of the page it links to and, in exchange, sends its ‘link juice’ to it, akin to a vote of confidence.

How to Check if a Backlink is Dofollow or Nofollow?

To manually check the backlink attribute, right-click on the link on the webpage and select ‘Inspect’ or ‘Inspect Element.’

Look for the HTML code corresponding to the link. If you see the attribute rel=”nofollow” within the link tag, it’s a Nofollow link.


If there’s no ‘rel’ attribute, it’s a Dofollow link.

Another, easier, way of spotting Nofollow links is using the ‘NoFollow’ Chrome extension.

Go to the Chrome Web Store, search for the NoFollow extension, and add it to your Chrome browser.

This extension will automatically highlight every Nofollow link on the page you’re visiting. It will look like this:

The extension will only highlight the Nofollow links.

Are Nofollow Links Worthless for SEO?

Absolutely not.

Even though Nofollow links don’t pass on ‘link juice’ and won’t directly increase your rankings, they’re still very desirable for a few reasons:

  • Increased referral traffic: A high-traffic website with a Nofollow link can send valuable visitors your way, even if it doesn’t affect ranking.
  • Brand awareness and exposure: Getting featured on authoritative websites, even with Nofollow links, increases brand recognition and builds trust.
  • Improved indexing: Nofollow links can still help search engines discover and index your pages efficiently.

Additionally, a few more factors to consider when judging the value of a Nofollow link include:

  • Quality of the linking website: A Nofollow link from a high-authority, relevant website is still valuable compared to a low-quality one.
  • Anchor text: Relevant anchor text in Nofollow links can still indirectly benefit your rankings, even though it doesn’t pass authority directly.
  • Overall backlink profile: A mix of Dofollow and Nofollow links from natural sources is crucial for a healthy backlink profile. Focusing solely on Dofollow links can appear suspicious to search engines.

Other Link Attributes and What They Mean

Besides Dofollow and Nofollow, several other link attributes can provide information to search engines and influence how they interpret links.

Here are some notable ones:


  • rel=”sponsored”: Used for links created as part of paid or sponsored content, advertising, or affiliate marketing. Signals to search engines not to pass link juice, similar to Nofollow.
  • Purpose: Helps prevent spam and paid links from manipulating search results.
  • Example: A product advertisement on a blog with a link to the product website might use rel=”sponsored”.

UGC (User Generated Content):

  • rel=”ugc”: Indicates links generated by users in comments, forums, social media, and other user-generated content platforms. Similar to Nofollow, they don’t pass link juice.
  • Purpose: Helps search engines distinguish between trusted editorial links and potentially unreliable user-generated content.
  • Example: Links in a forum post discussing your product would likely use rel=”ugc”.

Sponsored content with authorship:

  • rel=”sponsored nofollow noopener noreferrer”: Combines attributes: Sponsored for paid content, Nofollow for no link juice, Noopener and Noreferrer for security measures.
  • Purpose: Offers more specificity for paid content with identified authors while preventing spam and manipulation.
  • Example: An article written by an external author sponsored by a brand, published on a news website.

External links:

  • rel=”noopener noreferrer”: Doesn’t impact SEO directly but enhances security. Opens linked pages in a new tab or window and doesn’t send referrer information back to the linking page.
  • Purpose: Improves user experience and prevents tracking while clicking on external links.
  • Example: Any external link on a website might use these attributes.


  • rel=”alternate”: Indicates alternative versions of the same page (e.g., different languages)
  • rel=”canonical”: Specifies the preferred version of a page when there are duplicates
  • rel=”license”: Provides information about the copyright license of content

How to Use Link Attributes Properly in Your Content

Clarity and consistency are paramount when it comes to using link attributes in your content.

Be clear about the relationship between your website and the linked one, choosing the most fitting attribute like Dofollow, Nofollow, or Sponsored, based on the link’s nature.

Show consistency in applying the same attribute across similar types of links is crucial, aiding search engines in deciphering your linking patterns and intentions.

When it comes to accuracy, being truthful is non-negotiable.

Misusing attributes to game search engines, such as labeling Sponsored links as “dofollow” is a no-go.

Additionally, there’s no need for over-use; don’t burden every link with attributes unless they fulfill a clear purpose.

Lastly, stay updated with search engine guidelines and attribute usage as they evolve in the future.