DoFollow defines links that are not modified with the "NoFollow" attribute. Learn more about what they mean for your backlinking campaign, and why they're important for ranking websites in general.
Times have changed, and this resource has evolved to be more relevant for 2015. While DoFollow resources are practically extinct, this page explains how they are still obtained in the current day.
What is DoFollow?
"DoFollow" is simply an internet slang term given to web pages or sites that are not utilizing "NoFollow." NoFollow is a hyperlink value that tells search engines not to pass on any credibility or influence to an outbound link.
Originally created to help the blogging community reduce the number of inserted links into a "comment" area of a blog page, the attribute is typically standard in blog comments. It helps overwhelmed webmasters disallow spammers from gaining any kind of advantage by inserting an unwanted link on a popular page, and has become an integral part of Google-specific SEO.
How DoFollow & NoFollow Have Affected Link Building
As a result of the implementation of NoFollow, the process of building links has taken a steep turn. Many sites, including wikis, social bookmarking sites, corporate and private blogs, commenting plug-ins and many other venues and applets across the internet began implementing NoFollow.
This made effective link building difficult for both honest people and spammers alike. It also made DoFollow links become the "Holy Grail" of SEOs everywhere, who seek them out as expensive collections to their off-site optimization repertoire.
NoFollow Isn't Bad
There's nothing wrong with getting NoFollow links. In fact, you'll want to get an equal amount of them as well. While they don't pass on link juice, they do help associate your site with anchor text (the keyword phrase that makes up the URL pointing to your site). They also increase the exposure of your site, overall, which may eventually lead to you getting more mentions via DoFollow links!
How Search Engines Use NoFollow
DoFollow's Impact On the Web
Search engines each interpret NoFollow in their own way. Here's a list of the major search engines with a short description about how they handle DoFollow and NoFollow:
- Google follows NoFollow links but simply does not pass 'link juice' to an outbound link that is tagged with the value.
- Yahoo follows NoFollow links, but excludes the link from all ranking calculations.
- Bing may or may not follow a NoFollow link, but it does exclude it from ranking calculations.
DoFollow Links As A Part of Link Building
Don't Be A Spammer - Be A Value Provider!
Spamming 3rd party sites will not give you results...these days, it will work against you. It also hurts the entire webmaster community. Be sure that all of your link-building exploits are done so tastefully and honestly. If you don't cram keywords and give an honest account of what your site is about, search engines will reward you for it.
Multiple DoFollow Links from One Source
In getting links, regardless of if they're DoFollow or not, note that Google and other search engines are rather smart these days. If you have multiple links pointing to a page from one DoFollow source, or if that source is also linking to other places that are giving you backlinks (such as your Blogspot or Wordpress account), search engines will notice and may devalue your links to the point where they become worthless.
Links pointing back to a site should appear naturally and over time. If you've heard the advice "provide value and and quality links will come," it's a semi-truth, since only the sites that already get a decent flow of traffic will have a higher chance of getting these links, while sites with little to no traffic will continue to struggle to get noticed. It's a Catch-22...you need traffic to get links. The newer Google algorithms have been brutal on newly-created websites, or sites struggling to get off the ground. You'll need some kind of kick start into getting some traffic.
When it comes to link building in the current day, only the first link pointing to a site counts. Having more than one hyperlink on the same page to the same source won't help in any way.
Passing On Too Much "Link Juice"
You may have heard of the slang term "link juice," when the topic of older terms like Page Rank or Trust Rank are being discussed. Basically, every link on your page passes on some of the "juice" of that page. So, a highly credible web page that has a lot of great content, credibility and links pointing to it will "leak" some "juice" on to whatever other pages it is linking to, both internal and external (unless those links are marked as NoFollow links).
Too Many Outbound Links Will Hurt Your Pages
This is why it's recommended not to have too many links on a single page. More links = more juice going out of the page. Lose too much juice, and you're left with an empty glass.
When you set up your site, be sure to make absolutely sure which links should remain "DoFollow." Make sure they're used sparingly. It's always safe to leave internal links as "DoFollow" if they are pointing to something relevant to the topic of that page (such as a breadcrumb link, external link to a trusted/authority site, or to related articles).
Everything else - including header & footer links, affiliate links, banner ads and other worthless stuff should be marked as "NoFollow," which effectively plugs up the holes in your juice glass.
What's the Best Way to Get DoFollow Links?
Being that search engines are getting smarter than ever, they're also more able to notice patterns. That includes you creating multiple accounts on free blog or social bookmarking sites, for the sake of gaming backlinks to your own sites. Long gone are the days where Google doesn't notice that your one bookmarking account happens to have multiple links to multiple websites you own.
Do You Deserve Them?
To get a quality DoFollow link, your site has to be quality. Building links is best done when others do it for you. That's why things go viral or get so much attention - they were worthy enough of getting 10,000+ backlinks in a single day. That's usually more backlinks than most webmasters get in an entire year of manufacturing backlinks the hard way.
Ask, and Ye (Might) Receive
Another popular and highly successful method is to contact bloggers or webmasters in your niche and simply ask them for a link. Or, ask to be a guest blogger for the sole sake of getting a link to your site. Perhaps, you can also meet others in message boards (reviewers, authors, professors, enthusiasts, topic experts or anyone else) who run websites in your niche, who might be willing to reference your site in their content.
Here's another idea: search the internet for the keyword you really want to rank for - "antique clocks," or whatever. Look at who is ranking in the top 5, and consider contacting those people to ask for a link to your site, which also talks about the topic in-depth. By getting a link from their site (which was obviously deemed "important" enough by search engines to be ranking in the top 5), you're not only getting the possibility of a quality DoFollow link, but maybe some of the traffic will stray from their site to yours, as well.
This is truly the best way to score a great DoFollow backlink.
Diplomacy is Necessary
As you may have imagined, many people get annoyed when others ask them for backlinks - I'm one of those people ;) So, you'll have to get around it somehow. Get to know that webmaster by participating on their site in a meaningful way. Once it gets to a comfortable level, ask for the link. Or, you can just cut to the chase and say "I've really been working hard on my site - I'd appreciate it greatly if you could stop by sometime" and offer their interactivity on your site. Then, give them a backlink. Undoubtedly, they are using Google Analytics or similar, and will notice this. The favor is typically returned.
"Link Building" Isn't Much of A "Thing" Anymore
Google's algorithm changes have made linkbuilding become more of a thing of the past. Spending your entire day building links to your own pages used to be a tactic, but it's now a waste of time. The algorithm is looking for naturally occurring links that appear in multiple IP addresses from multiple locations. It's something you can't mimic on your own.
Getting new backlinks is the most frustrating part of being a webmaster. You can't get them naturally if Google won't jumpstart your site in organic search by ranking you for some keywords. You can't appear for keywords unless you have good backlinks. It's a constant battle for small business websites.
Options to consider are press releases and paid search. Neither will do anything to help your organic rankings, but they might give you some subscribers and increase your brand awareness. Partnering with other sites and getting mentioned on industry-related blogs with decent search volume is your best bet -- that's where the quality DoFollow links are, but you'll only get them if you network and are lucky enough to be included.
How to Spot NoFollow/DoFollow Links
If you use Firefox, a quick way to find DoFollow links is to spot the NoFollow ones. Free plugins like Firefox Web Developer will highlight all "NoFollows" links on a page for you.
Everything not highlighted is DoFollow. It's a quick and easy way to do a background check on your backlinking resources to see if they've retained DoFollow status!