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Links: No-Follow and Do-Follow

pagerank imageIn the beginning all links were do-follow.  However, it didn’t take long before blogs were being inundated by those who left insincere comments lacking in value just so they could get a backlink, so the original reason for the introduction of no-follow links was spam.

Do-follow comment links do pass on PageRank. No-follow comment links do NOT pass on PageRank. If you need more information on link juice and  how it is passed please read The rel=nofollow debate: Let’s Try and Get To Grips With It

Today many blogs and content management systems, including WordPress,  Blogger (Blogspot blogs), Typepad and most of the main blogging platforms have no-follow links enabled by default on comments and to change the links to do-follow links that pass PageRank action must be taken. On WordPress installs  a plugin must be installed. On  Blogger (Blogspot blogs) you have to download your blog template’s HTML source code and remove the rel=”nofollow” in the comments area.

How different search engines treat do-follow and no-follow links

Different search engines interpret and treat no-follow and do-follow links in different ways.
  • Google follows no-follow links but does not pass on PageRank  to outbound links.
  • Yahoo follows no-follow links but excludes the link from all ranking calculations.
  • Bing may or may not follow a no-follow link,s but it does exclude it from ranking calculations.
  • does not adhere to no-follow.

If you use Firefox browser a quick and easy way to find out if blogs have do-follow links is or not is to  use the SearchStatus addon that will highlight all “no-follow” links on a page.  It will also display Google PageRank, Alexa rank, Compete ranking and SEOmoz Linkscape mozRank anywhere in your browser, along with fast keyword density analyser, keyword highlighting, backward/related links, Alexa info and more.

Expert advice on no-follow and do-follow

Matt Cutts of Google has provided advice about PageRank and the no-follow attribute. If you are considering changing your links from no-follow to do-follow, then you may find the video below to be helpful.

Brett from Michigan asks Matt Cutts of Google:
“Are there negative SEO implications to having a blog with do-follow comments?
What about commenting on do-follow blogs?”

Question: Can having do-follow comments on my blog affect its reputation?
Short answer: Yes.
Question: Are there negative implications to having a blog with do-follow comments?
Short Answer: Yes.
For full answers please watch the video.

Can having dofollow comments on my blog affect its reputation?

Last year Matt Cutts also announced that page rank sculpting (the manipulation of no-followed and do-followed links) is no longer effective. Previous to that no-following comments directed more link juice to your other links but that no longer applies. Google has already done the math and has devised a way to stop manipulation.

The old practice was …
You have a PR 5 page
You have  5 links on that page
Each link gets 1 a bit of PR
You apply rel=”nofollow” to 4 links
1 page gets PR 5,  the other 4 get nothing.

The new practice is …
You have a PR5 page
You have 5 links on that page
Google knows there are 5 links
If you apply rel=”nofollow” to 4 of those links
the 1 remaining normal link gets PR of 1

spam canAdvice when changing from changing from no-follow to do-follow

Changing your  blog from no-follow to do-follow means you must become more vigilant about the kind of comments you approve and  post. These days there are not only bots leaving comments, there are also humans who are paid to leave bogus comments. That means that you will have to exercise discretion, moderate all comments, and be very careful about screening them. Hence it pays to run a bad neighborhood checks on any links that give you a “hinky” feeling.  The rule of thumb is it looks link a spam comment, it probably is so don’t post it.

Also keep in mind the reason that no-follow links were introduced. It’s not always a good idea to brag about your blog being do-follow and to promote it as a do-follow blog. Hanging up a “this is a do-follow” blog sign will definitely result in some people making opportunistic comments just so they can get a “juicy” link.  If you are considering changing your links from no-follow to do-follow you may find this article to be helpful: Do You DoFollow?

Linking ReCap

  1. Write high quality articles that others in your niche will want to backlink to and discuss.
  2. Avoid linking to unrelated sites.
  3. Avoid entering reciprocal link exchanges with unrelated sites.
  4. Link only to related sites in your niche.
  5. Avoid creating “blogrolls” or long lists of links.
  6. Exercise discretion by moderating all comments, trackbacks and pingbacks, and be very careful about screening.
  7. Build authority by leaving quality comments on related blogs.
  8. When it comes to commenting on do-follow blogs, remember do-follow passes PageRank from the linking site to all the other links  so (a) your PageRank 0 blog doesn’t really benefit, and (b) the more (spam/real) comments you get on a blog the less Page Rank there there  is to allocate among the links out anyway.

Related posts found in this blog:
Understanding Backlinks
Understanding Reciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Links
Natural Linking Strategy for Bloggers
Getting the Perfect Link
SEO Basics for on Page Optimization
Link building strategy: Locating similar sites
Links: No-Follow and Do-Follow

23 thoughts on “Links: No-Follow and Do-Follow

  1. Thanks. I am much more familiar with the topic now, and have one more comment. You say that:

    Do-follow comment links do pass on PageRank.

    However, Tim Grice’s excellent article The rel=nofollow debate: Let’s Try and Get To Grips With It which you link to says that your own website’s Page Rank can not directly be ‘drained’ by outbound links.

    The only reason Page Rank can be ‘lost’ via outbound link, he says, is indirectly, because the amount of Page Rank that is given (but no lost… just like love? :-) is divided between links regardless if they are outbound or internal. Therefore, outbound links compete with internal links, and the amount of link juice that internal pages give each other will be lower because it is shared with outbound links.

    However, as far as I know, internal links can’t pass Page Rank to each other any more since Google’s ‘Panda Update’ in February. Google actually aimed to target the widespread use of nofollow links for internal Page Rank ‘sculpturing’. So I guess that means that outbound links can no longer drain Page Rank from a blog in any way, neither directly nor indirectly.

    So the amount of outbound links in itself shouldn’t affect your own Page Rank at all any more – although the quality of the outbound link of course does, as you have also explained.

    So the consideration for using nofollow and avoid having a blogroll should be:

    – Do I want to be associated with that website? Is it relevant to my website?

    – Does it already link to me (reciprocal) ~ which could make it look like link farming.

    – Do I want to ‘vote’ for that website? Not a worry because I will loose anything because I won’t (unless the website is spammy, unrelated, reciprocal e.t.c), but because other websites I link to and which I really want to reward with Page Rank will have to ‘share their juice’ with it, so they will get less.

  2. Thank you for your thorough reply and effort providing all those links. That is precisely what I need… just starting to understand links management and the links’ impact on SEO.

  3. Hello Timethief,

    Thanks for a great detailed post. I am not so much into this yet, but I have a couple of questions.

    1. Link-lists / blogroll

    5. Avoid creating “blogrolls” or long lists of links.

    Really? I run 2 blogs, each with long lists of links relevant to their niche topic (1. science, 2. small business).

    It is sort of part of the meaning of the blogs to serve as access points to information about the niche topics via the organised links. I could of course link to the sites in posts only, but then the links wouldn’t be neatly organised / categorised any more. Neither of the themes has the link page option.

    – Can the many links negatively affect my page rank? Not that it matter yet, just started (again), but it might matter later on.

    2. Bad comments

    I approved a spam comment (directly from the spam filter:-) on a [link removed by timethief] (or ‘bogus comments’, as you say), because it serves as a perfect example. I will accept all SEO-marketing sort of spam comments on that post for the same reason. I think the prevalence of words like ‘SEO’ and ‘social media’ e.t.c in the post will attract hordes of them.

    – Can approving spam comments have any bad consequences for the blog’s reputation? (in the search engines)

    Ps. Great to see that you are still hanging around in here and have developed into an expert in WordPress and blogging technique! I think we occasionally discussed some wordpress-stuff in WordPress help forums around 2006 (remember your username). I am very impressed with the quality and usefulness of your blog and expertise now. Well done, very useful.

  4. Titi, thanks for following up with a great piece, I am grateful to you for presenting such insight into this issue that has eluded me so far.. Now, I know what the terms mean..
    And yes, I am not following ;)

  5. Hi ,iam a relatively new blogger and really know nothing about follow and no-follow comments.i have been simply posting comments on all my niche blogs .but all of the comments were related to the respective blogposts.nothing spammy.i want to knw whether my blog page rank would be affected by this.

  6. I often consider changing my blog from No-Follow to Do-Follow, there are quite a few Do-Follow blogs on the web that have huge, active comment sections.

    Although more comments means more moderation, if you carefully moderate the blog, I think this would be very helpful in always creating new content for your website. Also there are a lot of Do-Follow directories out there that send an awful lot of traffic.

    If you have the time to Moderate and check links, do-follow I think is superior in SEO over the No-Follow blogs, No follow links bleed the same amount of Link Juice off the page anyhow.

    • Hello there,
      Yes there are many do-follow directories out there and do-follow blogs with good content do get traffic and comments. Thanks for commenting and sharing your plans and experience here. :)

  7. Thanks again for a very informative article and your concise explanation of no-follow do-follow . Being a relatively new blogger, I haven’t been getting a lot of comments on my blog and consequently have not been moderating them. That’s probably a mistake.

    • Hi photodiction,
      You’re welcome. I’m happy to hear you are learning more about blogging from my posts. Not moderating comments is something that I never advise. Given the humans who are hired to make insincere comments these day I would not risk it.

  8. So the idea is not to also comment on blogs completely unrelated in subject focus to one’s own blog? I think I have to think about the article over time.

    • Hello Jean,
      No. If you do have time to comment on unrelated blogs – do it. For example, unlike most blogging tips blogs which tend to be do-follow monetized blogs, this blog is a no-follow blogging tips blog. The content spans niches and is relevant to anyone who blogs. Reading it, commenting on it and linking to it will not have a negative effect on your blog at all. There is no passing of PageRank when you comment here.

      This do-follow versus do-follow post contains a brief linking recap at the end of it. The primary focus of the post is on the differences between no-follow and do-follow links and the flow of Google juice re: PageRank. It’s aimed at those who are considering changing their blogs from no-follow to do-follow, and raising awareness of the likely consequences of doing so ie. spam comments aimed only at getting backlinks. It was prompted by a comment left by a reader on an earlier post.

    • From the POV of attracting backlinks and blog promotion via commenting, the blogs that are most valuable ones for you to to comment on and link to are those which are directly related to your own blogs.

      When you comment on another bicycling blog your username in the comment will be linked to your blog. The likelihood that another blogger, who is also into bicycling and also reading the bicycling blog you left your comment on will click into your blog is much higher than it would be if you were posting comments on a knitting blog.
      See this post > Link building strategy: Locating similar sites

  9. I love putting folks on my blogroll and several folks kindly put me on theirs, though I wish wordpress hadn’t got rid of the add to blogroll button. My blogroll is 95 % percent OCD free and is just people whose writing I like. My slices o’ life posts have my neurosis, etc., but lately I’ve waxed poetic about life too, mainly since my friend, Jingle, always is kind enough to want me to write something….I’m a 3rd rate poet, but it’s fun too, b/c I can do odes to my cat since I don’t have any Grecian urns hanging around. I’m trying to get my blog on networked blogs and get a zillion followers and dominate the world of anxiety bloggers…..Ain’t worked yet!

  10. Great article. I had just been researching this subject after reading your blog roll vs. links page post. You explained it much more succinctly. Thanks.

    Under your Linking Recap List #5 Avoid creating “blogrolls” or long lists of links. Is it harmful to page rank to have blog posts that list several links (15 – 30) linking to blogs in your niche? I occasionally do a favorite blog list post with links, or link to the blogs that are part of an author’s blog tour or part of a group reading event. Does this hurt my page rank? Since they are back links, the no follow rules would not apply. That is only for comments, right?


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