Dofollow vs. Nofollow Backlinks: Is there a perfect Ratio?

It remains a matter or great debate among SEO professionals worldwide whether or not a site should have nofollow backlinks, if they serve any purpose and how many they should be. Many bloggers and SEO professionals believe that having dofollow inbound links is the only way that sites can improve their rankings on Google search engine results pages (SERPs).
Technically, this is kind of true, since nofollow links are not crawled by Google, which means that they cannot pass link juice to the site they point for the purpose of assessment for ranking on Google and other search engines. This does not mean that nofollow links have no part to play in any site’s SEO strategy. So, what, exactly, is the role of nofollow links?
As a newbie in SEO, digital and mobile marketing, it’s important to understand the relevance of backlinks from various sources and with various attributes for any site. A good link building strategy would be made of links of various kinds rather than leaning towards just one technique. Understanding the difference between dofollow and nofollow links can also help sites to escape the clutches of a manual or Penguin penalty.
Dofollow and nofollow: what’s the difference?
‘Dofollow’ is an attribute in HTML, used to describe a link when it’s placed on a page. It tells search engine bots/crawlers that they can follow that link as well as consider it during the assessment process for ranking. This passes on some link juice to the target destination (the site that has been linked to) and helps that site to get a better rank on SERPs, provided the link is high value. Dofollow inbound links are the most useful backlinks that a website or blog can acquire since they directly contribute to the ranking position of the site on Google and other SERPs.
Nofollow, on the other hand, is a HTML attribute assigned to links. It tells search engine crawlers that they should not follow said link, hence they will not consider it during a site’s assessment for ranking. Nofollow backlinks do not pass link juice to targeted sites, and hence will not directly affect the SERP ranking position of the site to which the link points.
To be clear, nofollow links are followed by search engines crawlers, but they are not indexed and hence do not add direct SEO value.
Best SEO Practices for Dofollow and Nofollow links
While nofollow backlinks do not contribute directly to SERP ranking improvement, it would be a big mistake for site owners or SEO professionals to neglect building nofollow links. Aside from the fact that they don’t pass link juice for ranking purposes, nofollow links share all other qualities of dofollow links, and hence it’s important to maintain a healthy ratio of both for an effective linking strategy.
What’s a good ratio of dofollow to nofollow links, you ask? Well, there’s no hard and fast ratio. Some professionals say 80:20 while others go as low as 50:50. Whether or not you have a higher nofollow link ratio will depend on your exact link-building strategy. For instance, if you acquire links from more nofollow sources like social media, forums and certain blogs you’ll have a higher nofollow percentage.
What does Google want?
Suppose you have just set up a site and would like to improve your rankings by link-building. You can set up hundreds of dofollow links from related websites, thinking that Google want more dofollow links. You’ll more likely end up with a Penguin or manual penalty instead.
As a new site, the only way to explain addition of a high number of links in such a short time would be if you were a celebrity, or you posted highly (and I mean highly) viral content. For the rest of the sites, any huge leaps in your link numbers within a short time can lead Google to believe that you are engaging in unnatural link building.
Since nofollow links undergo assessment for ranking, you are free to build more if such links and reap the other benefits from them.
Importance of nofollow links
Nofollow links are not inferior to dofollow links in any way other than for SERP ranking. Therefore, all other benefits of links can accrue by having nofollow links. Having a certain percentage of nofollow links helps your link-building strategy to look well rounded hence more natural. The rule of thumb is never to lean on one link-building technique too much as this could tick off Google and land you a penalty.
In addition, your site stands to benefit from the referral traffic that comes as a result of nofollow links. Users can still follow such links back to your site, and if backed by other SEO strategies, this can help to increase the number of conversions and hence increase revenue realization for your site.
Where to get nofollow links
The best source of nofollow links is through blog commenting. Typically, links found on most forum signatures, discussion threads and sites like Quora are set to nofollow. Social media sites like Twitter only offer nofollow backlinks, while other social sites offer both nofollow and dofollow links, but the latter within special circumstances only.
In conclusion, take care as you build you dofollow link profile. No matter what ratio you choose to go by, remember that the secret to natural link building is diversification.
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