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Dofollow Links

What are dofollow links?

A dofollow link is essentially a normal hyperlink that has no additional attributes associated with it (nofollow, UGC, or, sponsored). The term first appeared in 1998 with the announcement of Google's PageRank[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.

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

While a dofollow link is followed by a crawler and is capable of passing link juice, a nofollow link works the opposite way. It has a <rel=”nofollow”> attribute included in the <a> tag, which basically instructs search engines not to follow this very link:

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

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 rel attribute of the link may also contain such values as:

  • UGC attribute (User Generated Content) is used for links left by users, for instance, on forums or in the comments.
  • Sponsored attribute is used for links acquired through paid placement (ads, paid links, etc).

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].

Dofollow links play a crucial role in SEO and are among the 200+ signals Google uses to determine a website's ranking[4].

In terms of SEO, the quality of dofollow links matters more than their quantity. Additionally, search engines take into account the following characteristics of a website’s backlink profile[3]:

  • Unnatural link-building. Links have to be acquired naturally. If Google suspects a website is participating in link-building schemes or purchases large amounts of backlinks, penalties may follow.
  • Linking domain authoritativeness. The more authoritative a linking domain is, the more link juice it will pass to a linked website or page. Links coming from low-quality websites will do more harm than good.
  • Relevancy. Links should fit the content organically.
  • Freshness. Newly acquired links are more valuable than older ones.
  • Referring domains. The more domains link to a page or website, the better.

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. 

To find dofollow links that point to your website, use 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
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