When internet marketers are searching for places to post quality content and get backlinks to their sites, one of the most often asked questions is whether or not any given use uses the dreaded rel=”no-follow” tag (let’s just stick with no-follow from here on in). It’s a fair question to ask, given the circumstances – after taking the time to find a good place to post content, you want to make sure that your hard work is paid off with a nice jump in the SERPs.
Irrespective of the on-going argument on the issue of whether or not no-follow links actually help sites to rank higher (some high profile SEOs and internet marketers have gone on record and stated that they do, whereas others have taken exactly the opposite stance), it’s worth taking a little time to know a bit about this much maligned type of link.
A very short Internet history lesson quickly reveals that the no-follow tag was dreamed up as a means of combating blog comment spam. I will leave it up to you to decide whether it worked or not… Let’s see what Google has to say on the matter. Take a look at this post on the Google support forum. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the no-follow tag for those looking to climb the greasy pole to page one:
In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web. However, the target pages may still appear in our index if other sites link to them without using nofollow…
So, at first glance, it seems that using no-follow backlinks is a waste of time. In terms of using backlinks to increase SERPS per se that may be true. Until you factor Panda into the equation and one all-important phrase that you should always bear in mind with your backlinks strategy – “natural link profile”.
Of course, there’s several other factors to consider like this for a start, but one important thing you can do to make things your backlinks efforts look natural is to actually include no-follows. Think about the backlinking process from the perspective of an individual who is writing a piece of content online and wants to include a link to your site as a vote that it’s a good resource for the topic in question. That individual could not care less whether the link he’s embedded in his content is do-follow or no-follow. He’s going to include that link and (if your site is popular enough) so will others. That means that there should naturally be no-follow links pointing to your site.
If you’ve been creating only do-follow links to your site, because you’re aware that they have little SEO power, it’s going to present a suspicious backlink profile to Google and will be taken as a rather obvious attempt to manipulate search engine results. Do you think that Google’s gonna like that and reward you with a nice fat page one ranking? So, if you are disregarding sites that use the no-follow tag, you know what you need to start doing.