Do Nofollow Backlinks Help SEO Rankings?

Ugg & Lee - Marketing and Backlinks

Do your nofollow backlinks help position your site in search engines?

That’s the question Cemper’s new survey at LinkResearchTools is asking SEO experts and webmasters.

The SEO community is divided on this matter. Some will praise the indirect benefits of nofollow backlinks on Google and the direct effects they have on other search engines — like Yahoo! — that still use nofollow links for ranking. Others condemn nofollow links as a waste of time and money and will deem them risky for internal links and perhaps even blog comments.

You really heard it all about rel=nofollow, didn’t you? 🙁

But nofollow backlinks do NOT harm your SEO campaign

If you read Bosmol regularly, you may have learned in one controversial article I wrote last year that nofollow links are not the evil.

Although you may still be wondering if they help with SEO rankings at all, you can rest assured there is nothing to fear from nofollow backlinks– they are actually quite useful to build buzz around your brand and get targeted traffic through guest blogging.

All in all, if all you’re after is traffic and conversions — and not search engine placement — nofollow links are your thing.

The Truth About Anchor Text Diversity

Gotch SEO published an interesting case study on how he got an exact match .COM in the Pills niche to rank without repeating anchor text more than once. This is a good reminder for SEOs and webmasters who think they can only get results by repeating the same anchor text over and over again.

However, the case study didn’t mention nofollow links.

Believe it or not, older case studies on building natural backlink profiles by mixing of dofollow and nofollow links are still valid. Varying anchor text is important for all links, follow and nofollow, branded and non-branded.

In fact, people don’t link out all in the same way, unless they use a brand name (Clazzio) or naked URLs ( Anchor text and linked pages, by definition, vary.

This is natural and good and it should be sought out. For example, if you run a link building campaign, don’t set a number of follow against nofollow links, but let the webmaster choose. That way, you’ll earn a real natural profile with anchor text that is editorial and not artificially constructed.

There isn’t just Google out there

A backlink that Google doesn’t count for scoring in the SERPs is a backlink that another search engine may (actually, will) count.

As I said in the article from last year, SEO is not about Google, but about search engines— all of them. You really want your site found by every media, not just Google.

In any case, I have good news for you: pages linked to with nofollow are indexed.

It’s a myth that Google doesn’t crawl and index nofollowed documents– they do get indexed, they just don’t get ranking boost.

This is important, because it makes your backlinks worthwhile. And users still see those links and click them.

I think I don’t need to remind you that without users — who realize that “conversions” goal in your list — SEO is useless.

Links are links are links

They join websites together.

They make the Web… the Web.

Nofollow links break the link graph for Google, but they don’t for people, just like note citations aren’t less worthy than in-text or bibliographical citations.

It’s a matter of perspectives.

Also, if we agree with Carter Bowles’ case study about ranking on Google without backlinks, then nofollow backlinks may still help you rank indirectly and provide a ‘launching pod’ to get you found (and linked!) by other websites.

Backlinks from social media sites are mostly nofollow, yet they’re highly sought after.

Wonder why?

Take Pinterest as an example– it doesn’t matter that outbound links are all nofollow, because the traffic potential is huge and webmasters know that quality traffic is also a big drive for quality links.

And to make it even clearer…

… I found many quality sources linked in this blog post through nofollow links. 😉 Honestly speaking, nofollow worked like a charm for these webmasters– because they earned an editorial link here.

What is your experience with nofollow links? Did they help you — directly or indirectly — position your site on search engines?

Share your thoughts!

Image by Craig R. Kirkby (Creative Commons)

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About Luana Spinetti

Luana Spinetti is a freelance blogger and copywriter based in Italy. When she's not writing, she will be drawing artwork and making websites. Web Marketing and SEO are in her basket for work-enhancement and for fun (but it still earned her a gig as a SEO consultant in 2012). Find her at or at her Twitter account @LuanaSpinetti.

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