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Dofollow Links

What is dofollow link?

A "dofollow" link is a type of hyperlink that allows search engines to follow the link and pass on the link equity or "link juice" to the linked webpage. This kind of link can influence the search engine rankings of the linked page, as it suggests to search engines that the link provides a vote of confidence for the quality or relevance of the linked content. In HTML, dofollow links do not require a special attribute; they are the default state of links unless they are modified with a "nofollow" attribute, which tells search engines to ignore the link in terms of passing on ranking credit. [1].

As a rule, such links are followed by search engine bots, as well as they pass link juice to a linked website or page.

Dofollow links are the backbone of search engine optimization (SEO), acting as endorsements from one website to another. Unlike their nofollow counterparts, dofollow links allow search engines to follow them and pass on link equity or "juice," significantly impacting a website's PageRank—a metric used by search engines to rank web pages in their search results.

From a search engine perspective, a dofollow link also serves as a signal of the authoritativeness of the page it’s referring to.

In the source code of a page’s HTML, a dofollow link looks as follows:

<a href="https://www.link-assistant.com/">Download SEO PowerSuite</a>


  • <a> or anchor tag is the tag that defines the hyperlink, including the anchor text and all other attributes.
  • href designates the URL where the link leads to (https://www.link-assistant.com/).
  • Download SEO PowerSuite is the anchor text visible to users instead of the URL.

Dofollow vs nofollow links

The difference between nofollow and dofollow links is crucial in the context of SEO and the management of link equity.

Dofollow Links: These are the default state of a link. They do not contain any special attributes that instruct search engines to ignore them. Dofollow links allow search engines to follow them and pass on link equity (also known as "link juice") to the linked website. This passing of authority can help improve the linked site's ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Nofollow Links: Introduced in 2005 by Google to combat spam and manipulate search engine rankings, nofollow links include a rel="nofollow" attribute in their HTML code. Example:

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.link-assistant.com/">Download SEO PowerSuite</a>

This attribute tells search engines to ignore the link in terms of passing on link equity. Nofollow links were created as a way to give webmasters a tool to link to other sites without passing on ranking credit, useful in the case of user-generated content, paid links, or any situation where the webmaster doesn't want to fully endorse the linked page. Normally, search engines will not crawl a nofollow link. However, Google doesn’t treat a nofollow attribute as a directive, which means that Googlebot can anyway follow links even if they have a nofollow attribute[6].

The primary difference lies in how search engines treat these links concerning the distribution of link equity. Dofollow links can influence the ranking of the linked site, helping improve its position in the SERPs, whereas nofollow links do not directly influence the linked site's search engine ranking. However, nofollow links are still valuable for driving traffic and can indirectly benefit SEO through increased visibility and potential indirect effects on search rankings.

It's also worth noting that in 2019, Google announced changes to its approach to nofollow links, introducing two additional link attributes – rel="sponsored" for paid or sponsored links and rel="ugc" for user-generated content. Google also stated that it would begin treating the nofollow attribute as a hint rather than a directive for crawling and indexing purposes starting March 1, 2020. This means that while nofollow links traditionally did not pass link equity, Google may now choose to crawl or index them under certain circumstances, providing some level of flexibility in how these links are treated.

A dofollow link, in turn, doesn’t require the inclusion of a rel attribute, as any normal link without attributes is meant to be crawled by default[2].

Adding a dofollow link in HTML doesn't require any special attributes; by default, all links are considered dofollow unless specified otherwise. To create a dofollow link, you simply use the anchor (<a>) tag with the href attribute pointing to the desired URL. Here's a basic example:

<a href="https://www.example.com">Visit Example</a>

In this example, the link to "https://www.example.com" is a dofollow link because it lacks the rel="nofollow" attribute that would otherwise instruct search engines not to follow the link or pass along any link equity. Essentially, unless you explicitly add a nofollow attribute (rel="nofollow"), the link will naturally be treated as dofollow by search engines, allowing them to crawl the link and potentially impact the linked page's search rankings positively.

Dofollow links contribute significantly to a website's search engine ranking. Search engines like Google use these links to understand the quality and relevance of a website, with high-quality dofollow backlinks often leading to improved visibility and higher rankings[4]

In terms of SEO, the quality of dofollow links matters more than their quantity. The credibility and authority of a website can be established through dofollow backlinks from reputable sites. The quality and relevance of these links are crucial, as they reflect on the linked site's SEO performance. This happerns because search engines take into account the following characteristics of a website’s backlink profile[3].

How to acquire dofollow links

Creating compelling, high-quality content is the most natural way to attract dofollow links. Content marketing plays a vital role in this process, drawing organic backlinks that bolster a site's SEO. Ensuring the relevance and authority of your links is also crucial. Avoid spammy practices by adhering to search engine guidelines, focusing on ethical strategies for link acquisition:

  • Guest posting: Writing articles for reputable sites can secure dofollow links back to your site.
  • Broken link building: Identifying and replacing broken links on other sites with your relevant content.
  • Email outreach: Contacting website owners to include your link as a resource
  • Interviews and expert roundups: Participating in these can get your site mentioned and linked.

Dofollow links are definitely a ranking factor today. But their future influence on rankings may become less prominent[5]. According to Google’s advocate John Mueller, links will likely have less weight in the ranking algorithm soon. This way, Google tries to address various backlink manipulations such as link-building schemes.

Tools and techniques for analyzing dofollow links

Tools like SEO SpyGlass and SEOquake are invaluable for identifying whether links are dofollow or nofollow. They also help assess the quality and potential impact of these links on SEO. Besides, they help analyzing your competitors' backlink profiles can reveal opportunities for dofollow links. Strategies include targeting the same sites for links or identifying gaps in your link-building efforts.

Balancing dofollow and nofollow links

Maintaining a natural and balanced backlink profile is essential to avoid penalties. Over-reliance on dofollow links can appear manipulative to search engines, underscoring the need for a mix of both link types.

Google's guidelines caution against manipulative link-building practices. Following these guidelines ensures that your strategies remain compliant and effective in the long term.

To determine if a link is dofollow or nofollow, you can follow these steps:

Check the HTML Code

The most straightforward way to check if a link is dofollow is by looking at its HTML code. Right-click on the web page containing the link and select "View Page Source" or "Inspect" (the exact wording may vary depending on your browser). Then, find the link in the HTML code. If the link contains a rel="nofollow" attribute, it is a nofollow link. If this attribute is absent, the link is considered dofollow by default.

Use browser extensions

Several browser extensions can help you identify dofollow and nofollow links directly on the web page without needing to inspect the HTML code. Extensions like MozBar, SEOquake, and NoFollow Simple visually indicate whether a link is nofollow by outlining it in a specific color or adding an icon next to it.

Utilize SEO tools

Comprehensive SEO tools like SEO PowerSuite offer features to analyze a website's backlink profile, including the ability to filter links by dofollow or nofollow status. These tools are particularly useful for analyzing multiple links at once or examining the backlink profile of a website.

To find dofollow links that point to your website, use SEO PowerSuite's SEO SpyGlass:

  • Open the app.
  • Go to Backlink Profile > Backlinks.
  • Select Dofollow links from the drop-down menu.
  • Analyze dofollow links within the app or export them for further analysis. 

    Dofollow link analysis in SEO SpyGlass
    Download SEO SpyGlass