NoFollow Backlinks Are Passing the Link Juice and Here Is the Proof

In the past, backlinks have been considered a bad thing for SEO. This is because they were seen as spammy links to websites that didn’t provide much value on their own. Nowadays, things are changing and more and more reputable companies are accepting link juice from other sites in order to build up their brand recognition online.

A nofollow link is a link that does not pass any link juice. This means that the link will not affect search engine rankings and it will not help your site rank higher in Google searches. Read more in detail here: what is a nofollow link.

This article is part of our “Opinion” section. We encourage that you contact the author with your views.

You probably shudder a bit when you hear the terms “nofollow” and “SEO” in the same phrase.

SEOs despise these connections as much as an IRS agent does during tax season.

It’s just plain unjust. However, there is reason to believe that the no-follow link may resurface. Continue reading to learn what we learned in our research regarding rankings and how backlinks impact them, and I guarantee you’ll view nofollow links in a whole new light.

The Unfair Bad Reputation of Nofollow

The nofollow property was established by the search engines in 2005 to assist combat comment link spam.

Following that, Google advised all website owners to utilize it whenever they had a paid (sponsored) link ad. To put it another way, this was your method of informing Google that you were purchasing links.

This helped Google to distinguish between sponsored and organic connections. Because so many individuals were constructing artificial anchor text profiles with their backlinks, it shielded many website owners when subsequent Google changes arrived. 

Those links didn’t count against you if you were honest with Google and identified your purchased links with a nofollow attribute. After that, practically every SEO came to the conclusion that any link with a no-follow attribute was useless in SEO.

The buying and selling of links suffered a significant setback, and most SEOs avoided links with the characteristic, which prevents GoogleBot from following them, like the plague.

And it’s been that way for the most part since then.

The Argument Against Nofollow Links

Brand trust is one of Google’s most important ranking criteria.

To put it another way, customers must trust your brand before allowing you to appear at the top of their search results. This is mostly performed via your homepage SEO, or, in other words, your site’s backlink profile.

However, whether or not your website has any NoFollow, Sponsored, or UGC links is one of the important indicators Google examines to determine whether it is a trustworthy brand.

Consider that for a moment.

Because it is an ad, a Sponsored link informs Google that you are paying for the link.

The lifeblood of every firm is advertising. 

Wouldn’t Google expect you to advertise if you’re a serious brand?

In reality, when you get a sponsored link, you are effectively telling Google, “Hey, we’re in business, and here is our ad content.”

Now, instead of being labelled with an artificial backlink profile, Google can look at the anchor text and evaluate how it relates to your real website, and give you credit for it.

The point I’m trying to make is that it seems as though Google expects nofollow links in your backlink profile, and if you don’t have any, it might raise a red signal for an unnatural profile.

Evidence That No-Follow Links Are Beneficial

We did a lot of backlink study when developing the SEOJet program. We looked at the top-ranking sites in every niche, category, and sector, and found that they all had something in common: nofollow links.

Did you know that Google’s top-ranking web sites contain an average of 20 percent to 40 percent no-follow links linking to them?

It may even be higher at times. This attribute links is applied to three out of ten links. 

Consider that for a moment.

The link attribute, which was designed to completely eliminate any SEO impacts, appears a third of the time on top-ranking sites.

Let’s take a look at a few instances of top-ranking sites and the proportion of nofollow links heading to them. Note that I’m just looking at the ranking page in question, not the whole site. 

Keyword: “backlinks”

  • is the top-ranked website.
  • Nofollow links account for 28% of all links.
  • For the total site, the percentage of nofollow links is 30%.

“mortgage payment calculator” is a keyword.

  • is the top-ranked site.
  • Nofollow links account for 31% of all links.
  • For the total site, the percentage of nofollow links is 12 percent.

“Diet pills” is a keyword.

  • is the top-ranked website.
  • Nofollow links account for 21% of all links.
  • For the total site, the percentage of nofollow links is 14 percent.

“Online degrees” is a keyword.

  • is the top-ranked website.
  • Nofollow links account for 25% of all links.
  • For the total site, the percentage of nofollow links is 16 percent.

“Best fidget spinners” is a keyword.

  • Nofollow links account for 23% of all links.
  • Nofollow links account for 21% of all links on the site.

“internet business” is a keyword.

  • Site with the highest ranking:
  • The percentage of nofollow links on the top-ranked page is 31%.
  • For the total site, the percentage of nofollow links is 17 percent.

Keep in mind that not every site that ranks first is thus high. There are a lot of sites that are under 20%, but this is a recurrent pattern that we notice as we look at more and more #1 ranked sites.

This test or this data is obviously not the be-all and end-all of SEO. We’re just interested in seeing who Google has considered worthy of ranking first, and then we’ll look at their backlink profile.

So, are these sites rated #1 because they contain nofollow links, which Google considers to be a natural component of a backlink profile? Is it possible that this property has SEO value?

In any case, having nofollow links going to sites you care about seems to be in your best interests.

Case Study of a No-Follow

I chose to test the impact of an exact match nofollow sitewide link on my rankings since I don’t target key keywords on my homepage. 

I wanted to be found when people searched for “backlink software.” It’s not a big word, but it perfectly explains SEOJet, and I was stuck in the upper 20s for it.

So I went to an SEO blog that was highly rated for a variety of SEO phrases. With the anchor “backlink software,” I obtained a nofollow sidebar link.

I reached #1 for the term “backlink software” in less than a week. I would have been surprised by this outcome, but the reality is that I had done something similar previously.

I ranked #1 simply by purchasing one nofollow sitewide link on relevant sites utilizing the exact match anchor.

NoFollow-Backlinks-Are-Passing-the-Link-Juice-and-Here-IsRanking history for “backlink software” on SEOJet.

With that key word, I had no other links leading to my site.

I believe that the relevancy of the site on which I was advertising had an influence on how my rankings were impacted. The numbers, on the other hand, don’t lie. In that case, a Nofollow sitewide link seemed to have significant SEO benefit.

Now, I do believe there are other things at play; for example, with branded anchors that go to my homepage, I have created a lot of brand trust with Google. Although I haven’t tried it on a new site, I’m not sure how well this will work with one.

A Practical Takeaway

I wouldn’t draw any generalizations based on a single case study, but there is enough data to warrant more investigation. How can you utilize this information to your advantage if a nofollow link has true SEO value?

I recall when sitewide links were all the rage in the early days of SEO. They had a significant amount of SEO clout. In recent years, most SEOs have ignored them. 

With this new information, I would deliberately search for highly relevant websites where I could acquire a sitewide link and tag it with the nofollow attribute as part of my SEO plan. 

I’d also make certain that the anchor text of that link was an exact match phrase I was attempting to rank for. You won’t have to worry about search engine penalties if you use the nofollow property, so you can be as aggressive as you want with the anchor text.

Give it a try and see if your rankings for the keywords you’re aiming for in the nofollow sitewide links improve.

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ADS illustration

The “nofollow internal links” is a new update to Google’s algorithm that will penalize websites with too many nofollow backlinks. This update was released on April 23, 2016 and the proof is in this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do nofollow links pass link juice?

A: No they dont, as links that are nofollowed do not pass any link juice.

What is a nofollow backlink?

A: A nofollow backlink is a link from one website to another that does not pass any rank or authority. This is something that search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo do not follow for ranking purposes. They will use it instead of the original source if they feel you are trying to trick them with these links.

How can you tell if a link is nofollow?

A: A link on a website is nofollow if it has the following code in it.

Related Tags

  • when to use nofollow links
  • dofollow vs nofollow
  • do follow tag
  • nofollow backlinks list
  • rel=nofollow

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