What Are Nofollow Links Good For?

statia

You know well the cost of a good dofollow link, right? What is the common input that a fine dofollow link chase would include:

  • long hours of research on a selected topic
  • great writing skills to eloquently express your idea
  • much persistence to uncover the most suitable audience for your completed post
  • the art of a true diplomat as to persuade the webmaster of the selected site to share your content with his readers
  • patience – to survive all of the rewrites that your new editor will request.

Note that this list outlines the process of guest posting at high authority websites only. What if you are to create a unique top quality infographic instead? You’d need to expand on: the skills (art&design), the outreach stage (you’d need to present your infographic to a vast number of suitable medias instead of contacting a single blog owner), the time and resources related to the project.

And you go through all this trouble for a single inbound link from an authority website. On the publishing day you feverishly type or paste the url to your fresh new post in your browser and…. Bam! Your in-post link has been assigned a NOFOLLOW attribute.

It seems all your SEO tactics and efforts were in vain.

Not really, you see, with businesses moving their customer communication, promotion and public relations online, modern marketing strategies also get adapted to the web environment. Gradually the standard SEO begins to integrate key marketing principles into its mechanism, evolving into a new hybrid called online marketing. So nowadays this online marketing is all about:

  • online brand awareness;

  • overall webstite traffic increase (not focusing on organic and referral traffic only, which are the main focus of traditional SEO, but on social and direct traffic as well);

  • pursuit of on-site conversions.

It will be only fair to conclude that NOFOLLOW links have positive marketing value even if they are said to have no direct SEO value.

But let’s see what are the NOFOLLOW links good for!

TRAFFIC

How:

When you build your online business relationships with link earning in mind you should select websites that are considered of high authority in your industry.

E.g. Thus if you have just created a new educational mobile app for kids between 4-6, you should definitely target top mommy bloggers.

The high authority of a website is often measured in terms of:

– the ability to engage a specific target audience (e.g. readers who are interested in sports, pets, DIY tips);

  • audience size (a large pool of readers);
  • audience loyalty (the site has regular readers);
  • audience engagement (readers comment, like, share the site content).

All of these factors have a positive impact on your business because they ensure the higher exposure of your content. By having a NOFOLLOW backlink from an authority website, you will have to forsake the link juice, but you’d be able to “borrow the shine” of that particular industry leading site.

Readers acknowledge a site to be an authority when they believe the site offers trustworthy information. When such site vouches for your site with a NOFOLLOW link the readers are much more inclined to perceive you as a respected business and to look you and your product/services up.

What is this traffic good for:

  • to educate your potential customers (e.g. let them know a bit more about your company, your services and what is more: try to create a need);

  • to elicit conversions (sales and leads in terms of email/newsletter/e-book/free course subscriptions);
  • to convert a one-time buyer into a loyal customer;

  • high traffic and low-bounce rate are indirect ranking factors SEO
  • to influence direct traffic – once people learn about your company via the referral link it’s only up to you to make your brand stick into their memory and make them revisit your website.

 

BRAND/COMPANY AWARENESS

How:

Being mentioned on niche authority websites, in the local news or in blog posts of your community top bloggers will surely bring you some serious dividends even if you were “denied” of your so-longed for “link juice”.

Your company will no longer be a nameless business that the web has buried under piles of undervalued info. Your targeted customers will get a glimpse of the benefits of your products/services and will get familiar with your company identity.Word-of-mouth is a priceless natural way to establish long-term relations with your customers and brand mentions on high authority websites is the perfect way to architect a “WOM wave”.

What is this brand/company awareness good for:

  • targeted customers recognize your brand (you can achieve product/service differentiation from your competitors);
  • targeted customers relate the solution of a problem to your brand/company (subconsciously people are already making the purchase);
  • be a part of your customers life (show engagement; demonstrate knowledge of your targeted customer needs and problems; make your customers feel pampered and let them know that you are easily accessible).

 

BUILDING AUTHORITY

How:

Engage with the online community through:

  • regular participation in relevant industry forums;
  • leaving your 2 cents at authority niche blogs;
  • actively getting involved on the suitable for your branch social networks.

What is this company authority good for:

Once all those in-comment links were perceived as standard links, i.e. they bore no NOFOLLOW attribute. Given the easy gain they are, people tended to over-exploit them in their pursuit for the golden “link juice”. Thus the reason why Google no longer considers the links in blog/forum comments as a factor in its ranking algorithm.

Nevertheless indirect positive influence of that type of links cannot be ignored. By publicly demonstrating your expertise and sharing your knowledge with your community, you will become an influential ambassador of your business/brand.

Respect is something that no bot could read into, but humans can and thus the reason why the simple no-juice NOFOLLOW link manages once again to justify its worth.

 

LEADS

How:

We have already examined how a NOFOLLOW link can bring valuable traffic to your site. But let’s take it a step further and focus on these new visitors – your potential new customers. If you maintain a great website, one that could entertain, educate, retain and engage your audience, then you’d eventually be able to see a more subtle indirect result of your NOFOLLOW links: an increase in your conversions – either in terms of direct sales or new leads.

What are these leads good for:

  • create a database of interested in your products/services individuals. You can regularly send them info about your special promo offers, discounts and new products in order to convert them. Or you could provide them with useful tips and subscribers-only content in order to gain their respect and trust and convert them on a later stage;

  • acquire new followers on Twitter, Facebook, or other industry relevant social networks, whom you could convert on a later stage.

 

ATTRACT DOFOLLOW LINKS SEO

How:

A NOFOLLOW link from a high profile site has a huge potential. When your business/brand name is involved in an interesting or better yet controversial story on an authority website, you could expect to earn dofollow links from other sites that will consequently cover the original news.

What is the dofollow links good for:

  • this is quite self-explanatory; it suffices to wisper the magic word: “link juice”.

 

INSURANCE AGAINST PENALTIES SEO

How:

Google has been crafting some solid mechanisms against link spam and whether you are to avoid algorithmic (Penguin) or manual (unnatural links) penalty, you’d better be careful with your backlink profile. When you conduct a link audit of your site and you stumble upon a risky link (a link on a relatively good site but with exact match anchor text in the bio section after the post, for instance), well, you might wish to request the webmaster to change the link to a NOFOLLOW one, just to be on the safe side.

There is no such thing as being too cautious as it comes to Google penalties – there is nothing that could compensate you for your loss if your site gets wiped out of the SERPs.

What is this insurance good for:

  • to avoid “unnatural links from your site” penalty – excessive attempts to link out to external websites (a popular technique in the flourishing times of guest posting prior to 2014) led Google to create a sanction for this overused link building technique and enforce a manual penalty known as “Unnatural links from your site”. NOFOLLOWING the so-called “unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links” would be the quickest way out of this drastic Google’s intervention.
  • to avoid “unnatural links to your site” penalty – by NOFOLLOWING certain inbound links to your site that have been created solely for SEO purposes, you’d protect your site from being associated with bad neighborhoods.

  • to denote paid relationship – advertorial links, according to Google, must be NOFOLLOWED or you risk to be accused of trying to manipulate Google’s ranking algorithms and eventually you could even get penalized.
  • to balance the dofollow link count (arguable) – the link profile appears more natural if you have link diversity, i.e. both dofollow and nofollow links.

 

CONSERVE THE LINK JUICE IN THE HOUSE SEO MYTH

Does this really work?

There have been some speculations as to whether one should let the “link juice” flow outside his site. Regardless of how tempting it is to turn into the Scrooge of dofollow links, NOFOLLOWING your outbound links will not make your site stronger.

Let’s go over the basics of the PageRank ecosystem first:

When a website uses a dofollow link to refer to your site, Google integrates this improvised “vote” in its ranking algorithm. In this simple case scenario the referrer passes PageRank to the referee. Thus by accruing dofollow backlinks to your site you accumulate PageRank and your website gains authority and climbs the ranks in Google.

Respectfully, if you refer to an external site you pass PageRank to that site. In case you don’t wish to pass that PageRank you can use the NOFOLLOW attribute for the outbound link. The sole reason for this act should be to make it clear that you do not wish to vouch for the given website.

Keep in mind that by NOFOLLOWING a link you practically let active PageRank leak out. Here’s how: if you receive 3 inbound links to an inner page of your site and you use 3 outbound links in the content of that page: 2 dofollow and 1 nofollow; the PageRank that is supposed to flow to the 3rd link is lost (dried out by the NOFOLLOW attribute). The remaining 2 outbound links share equally between each other the remaining 66% percent of the given page “link juice”. The NOFOLLOW link has wasted 33% worth of PageRank.

So don’t yield to your greedy instincts and don’t get obsessed with NOFOLLOWING your outbound links under the false pretense of getting your site on steroids with link juice. Vote in favor of the fair play and honor the trusted resources you refer to with the natural dofollow link instead.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Now that you are familiar with the pros of the NOFOLLOW links you can finally make up your mind on how valuable such links are to your business model.

Would you remain in favor of the SEO side of the coin and pursue only dofollow links or you’d be willing to consider the marketing value of the NOFOLLOW link and look at the big picture instead?