We’ve all been told that only followed links matter for the SEO of your website. As the conventional wisdom goes, links tagged with the nofollow tag prevents page rank from flowing to the target website and doesn’t help that website to rank better in the organic search engine listings.
Or does it?
Most links that are part of comments in blogs are tagged with the nofollow tag, a response to the guest blog spamming that was occurring a few years back. Ditto for social media profiles, any links you place in your profile will also be nofollowed. I haven’t built very many followed links to this website, but I have done quite a bit of commenting on other’s blogs. And I have noticed that this activity has brought more traffic to this blog as well as a page rank increase. So this observation brings into question the assumption that nofollow links are useless from the SEO perspective as they did seem to help this blog at least.
Last night Rand Fishkin presented “interesting data from the 2011 ranking factors” to a Silicon Valley audience gathered at SimplyHired. There was lots of good stuff in the preso to check out, but he did also mention that his data seemed to also suggest that nofollowed links matter, perhaps because a website (especially a blog) that only has followed backlinks might seem artificial to Google and the other search engines. It might be that nofollow links don’t really help like we all think, but the lack of them does hurt. Through social media and blog commenting we all accumulate nofollow backlinks. A site that doesn’t have them maybe getting their links in a “unnatural” way and this is a pattern Google is looking for and devaluing.
Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.