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Monday, 7 March 2011

Four Reasons to Build "Nofollow" Links

Are you passing up powerful link-building opportunities? Do you get that sinking feeling when you see rel="nofollow" in the HTML of pages you invested valuable time into identifying? Do you think "nofollow" links have no SEO value? If so, think again. Nofollow links absolutely do have value. And not just SEO value. Effective link building campaigns should integrate with other elements of your digital and traditional marketing strategy. Here are four good reasons why...

1. Users follow links too

You should always build links for people - not search engines. Search engines just try to determine what is best for people. So everything you do should be aimed at people too. Ranking algorithms change, but the fundamental principle of "what's best for the user" will always endure. Search engines will get better at determining what's best for users. So if your link-building campaign is only good for SEO then it is not effective now and it is likely to become less effective as search engines evolve. Any opportunity to share your link with an interested person is good news. If your link building strategy is properly formulated then your links will naturally end up in front of real people who are interested in the topic of your website's content.

2. Social linksThis is my favourite use for nofollow links, and it is potentially worth more than any SEO value that might be gained from a followed link. If you find a great place to build a link but it turns out to be "nofollow", why not link to a good piece of social media real estate, such as your Twitter feed, instead? Social media is shareable and has viral potential. Tap into the networks of all the real people who your link building campaign should be targeting. A social link can prove many times more effective at achieving your business objectives than a followed link. What's more, search engines are increasingly looking to social signals to replace links as the primary ranking signals. In the meantime, if your tweets or social content are shared by a large number of users, it is highly likely that there will be a significant impact on search. AsSEOmoz found, Social affects search.

Social link opportunities highlight the need for an integrated digital marketing strategy. No digital or traditional marketing discipline should work in isolation: each strategy can and should support and feed the others and this is particularly true online. Hopefully this gives you a sense of how everything about your strategy should be natural, organic, human and connected. That leads us neatly into the next reason:

3. Natural is best
Search engines look for a natural balance of links. If your links are all followed then that looks odd - and potentially suspicious. A healthy link portfolio should include nofollow links. (It could be argued that as good, followed links become harder to get, new websites should have a greater proportion of nofollow links).

4. Some "nofollow" links are followed
In some circumstances "nofollow" links can actually yield direct SEO link equity - passing authority and indicating keyword context, just like a followed link. Google tries to downplay this, but there are many cases of nofollow links yielding SEO value.

So there is no good reason to avoid nofollow links. They are a natural, beneficial part of your online environment and should play a considered role in your comprehensive, cross-discipline marketing strategy.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I've been having an ongoing debate about this on my blog since I posted my drop in pagerank and why I thought so. Interestingly enough Matt Cutts has made comments that although still ambiguous in typical Google style, still hint at the idea that Google ignores the attribute.
We know for a fact that the link is still followed, its just a case of how much weight is carried with it..

Shared at SERPd community where the discussion first started to rage.