You did your research, found the best topic and wrote an article, created the perfect outreach pitch for backlinks, and finally… you got them; backlinks in two digits. But, it hasn’t yielded the promised dream of SEO success.
And you’re just extremely frustrated and clueless as to what the flip exactly went wrong. Been there, done that!
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the answer to your prayers; the backlink metric that’s easy to miss and how to make it work.
The hyperlink relation property
“What relation property? No one ever told me that!”. Well, now you know.
It’s an HTML tag property like the alt property used in <img> tags. It looks like this in the HTML view of a page with links:
<a href=”http://your-domain.com” rel=”nofollow”>Your special backlink</a>
That highlighted part is where the magic happens.
By default, all links are dofollow type links with the “rel” property non-existent or empty. This tells the search engine that this is a worthy link that can be counted towards the link points of the referred page.
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to earn these specific type of links as they are mainly used in a contextual reference.
For instance, a car blog linking to a car accessories web-store will most likely do so in a post about car accessories like, “Top 10 car accessories to turn your Lada into a Bentley (one can dream)”.
Where I’m going with this is to show you the uses of these two types of links. First, let’s learn more about these two relation types.
As you know, follow links have an empty rel property in the <a> tag. At first search engines just counted the number of inbound links a page had from external sources. Soon, people exploited this feature and got links by creating dummy pages, spammy blog or video comments, etc.
You see, that’s neither a good practice, nor a constructive one.
Hence, they (search engines) made it so that only dofollow links are counted towards measuring how much link juice (aka page rank) a page had. The higher this metric was, the higher the SERP placement that page had.
What this means is, even if you have a thousand backlinks to a page, it won’t really bring you much success (there are some exceptions).
Nofollow links pretty much just shout out to search engines to ignore everything that link contains and stands for. Sounds a bit rude when I put it that way, doesn’t it? But, it’s true though.
So, why would someone go through the trouble of marking a link as nofollow? It’s all for a good reason, of course; to weed out spammy or irrelevant links.
A blatantly promotional comment in a blog that’s not even remotely relevant to promote a new online store is not exactly the kind of links that should count towards your page rank, right?
Pro tip: Getting backlinks from spammy sources can actually hurt your SEO score these days. Spammy sources have very low Google Indexed pages, high spam score, low trust flow, low domain authority. So if you see a lot links coming from these sites, you should disavow them.
Now you get it, this is where nofollow links come into play and save the day.
Where nofollow links are needed and used:
● Paid advertisement content
Obviously, it wouldn’t be fair to count paid promotion links, as people could just pay to increase their page rank. So, all paid ad content links have their rel set to nofollow.
● Links from blog comments and forums
To avoid spammy spammers from building a successful link profile just by adding links on different blogs and forums such as quora. This is done automatically in wordpress blogs, forums like quora when you provide external links. There is a better way to find success with this and we’ll discuss it in the next section
● Spammy sources
Last but not least, spammy sources. These sources are usually marked as spam and is extremely difficult to get back from if your site is marked as one. Mostly these sites provide little to value to users and hence, such “punishment”.
Okay then, you just have to completely ignore all nofollow and links and go for dofollow type links, right? Wrong!
Even though they don’t provide any SEO value to your page, they will still help new users discover your page and site.
Follow vs nofollow links ratio
That’s right, nofollow links can still be greatly useful by being a good source of referral traffic. For instance, by answering the right question with a helpful solution on a forum or a video, you can drive a measurable amount of referral traffic to your website.
Another reason is that, it won’t look convincing enough if all 400 of your links were do-follow links (and vice versa), now would it?
Balance is the key; maintaining a good amount of follow and nofollow links in the right ratio will create better likelihood of success.
Coming to the real question, what is the perfect/right ratio? 5:7 – I wish I could give you an answer like that. It’s not that simple. There’s a bit more to maintaining a good backlink profile than it appears.
It depends on distribution of your backlinks, both follow and nofollow, among different sites and their authority, trust flow, citation flow, and spam score amongst other metrics. These three main points that summarize the factors which your backlink profile:
- The rate at which you earned these links
- The source site and the type of link from that site, and
- The distribution of words in anchor text
When you request a link from someone they’ll try to evaluate you on these factors as well. So, put yourself in their shoes and think like they will.
See if the source you’re requesting is good enough for you and the other way around too. And lastly, good luck with link-building, cheers!
Helvis is an SEO-mastering, content-smithing marketer who spends his days at Linkody helping SEOs monitor their backlink data.