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.
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.
Dofollow link example
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.
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.
Dofollow links & SEO
Dofollow links play a crucial role in SEO and are among the 200+ signals Google uses to determine a website's ranking.
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:
- 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. 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.
How to find dofollow links to your site?
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.