The search engines favor websites that have established a certain level of trust. One important way that this trust is earned is through inbound links pointing to the website. The search engines view an inbound link as a kind of “vote.” If a website is linking back to content somewhere on your website, it must be valuable. Of course, not all inbound links are weighed the same. Inbound links from high authority websites, especially .gov or .edu, websites carry the most weight. Next, comes links from respectable websites such as news outlets or powerful blogs that receive a lot of traffic. Inbound links can be “dofollow” or “nofollow” and there is a misconception that “nofollow” links aren’t worth attaining for link building purposes.
“Nofollow” links have an additional attribute and look something like this: “http://www.link.com” rel=”nofollow”. These “nofollow” links were introduced to prevent spammers from including links in content just to get an SEO boost. The “nofollow” attribute essentially tells the search engine spiders not to follow it, or consider it for ranking purposes. Some web properties where links are typically “nofollowed” are blog comments, article submission sites, forum signatures, and social media. While it may be true that the attribute is telling the search engine spiders not to follow the link, that doesn’t mean that it is being ignored entirely.
The search engine spiders are still seeing the link, even if it doesn’t carry as much weight as a “dofollow” link and it’s still one of the many things that the search engine algorithm takes note of. The search engines like to see a natural link portfolio, one that grows over time and includes links from a variety of sources and isn’t created purely for SEO. A natural link portfolio has a significant number of both “dofollow” and “nofollow” links. If there is a much larger percentage of “dofollow” links, it’s obvious that you have the wrong link building priorities. A well rounded link portfolio is the better alternative to ensure the health of your website.
The original purpose of links was to help Internet users browse the web and easily find related information that existed in another location. “Nofollow” links may not carry as much weight with the search engines, but they can certainly have a profound impact on the success of your website and your brand building efforts. In addition to SEO, links should be built to generate traffic to your website. The best places to build links are on websites that your target audience members are actually visiting. A link from a high authority site may be “nofollow” but it will help generate traffic and may lead to a sale or conversion.
When it comes to link building, you can’t only think of the search engine spiders. You need to think of where your target audience is spending time. If a link can help bring you business, it really doesn’t matter if it is followed by the search engine spiders or not.