Nofollow links: Are they worth your time & effort?

Diversifying is an important part of creating a natural-looking backlink profile, so nofollow links are inevitably part of this even though they don’t directly impact SEO. The big question is, how can nofollow links positively contribute to your backlink profile if they don’t pass value?

Follow vs. Nofollow Links

The difference between the two is that follow links count as link points within Google’s algorithm so will pass value, whereas nofollow links do not. So, if not to pass link points, what’s the value of nofollow links (if there is any at all)?

The reason behind the creation of nofollow links comes back to Google’s mission for top page rankings to be earnt organically, and not to reward unnatural link building practices. 

The nofollow tag appeared in 2005 as a way to combat spam comments containing backlinks on blogs and news sites. As prior to this, all these links were crawled and assessed in the same way by Google, spam comments were functioning as value passing links on a huge scale. Consequently, all comment links were given the nofollow tag, so they wouldn’t affect page rankings through sheer volume. 

This also affects comments on social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Reddit) as all links on these platforms will be nofollow. This is again, to prevent the use of spam comments and accounts from driving PageRanks up via these channels.

Similarly, nofollow tags are applied to paid links (Ads, paid reviews, etc.) so that a website cannot reach the top page rankings purely by paying for backlinks. This, again, stems from Google’s desire to prioritise gained backlinks and is in place to prevent powerful websites from monetising the process of building backlinks.

When is comes to SEO

Google’s official stance on nofollow links is; “In general, we don’t follow them.”

There is a great deal of debate over the use of “in general” within this statement. It seems to be that in certain situations Google will crawl nofollow links, however, under no circumstances will Google use nofollow links to pass value to a page’s rankings.

It doesn’t necessarily follow that nofollow links are worthless though.

Firstly, Google assesses a multitude of different factors when looking at your website’s backlink profile. As the places in which organic users would link to your site would involve nofollow links, (social media, and blog/news comments,) a profile lacking nofollow links will seem suspicious as it lacks organic votes of trust.

Let’s say a website’s backlink profile is +70% follow links, Google could see this as a manipulated profile because it lacks diversity and penalise the website accordingly. So, a good mix of follow and nofollow links are needed to contribute to a natural link profile that Google will trust.

Secondly, directly passing value to PageRanks is not the only aim of backlinks. Google assesses content on a number of levels, so a nofollow link on a credible website (e.g. Forbes) will be taken into account when Google is assessing the value of your “brand mentions”. A credible network of nofollow links on sites with contextual relevance to your own website, will amplify your follow links and give Google further evidence to trust the authenticity of your site. Additionally, nofollow links on social channels show Google your website is being interacted with currently, and help to build a credible picture of your brand.

Lastly, traffic is always a good thing. Well-placed and relevant nofollow links can provide a great deal of traffic, just as follow links do.

Should I care about nofollow links?

In short, yes!

Nofollow links serve an important role in building a diverse and natural backlink profile. Whilst follow links are directly linked to Google’s PageRank, it’s vital that they are supported with nofollow links – or in other words, a balance between follow/nofollow. Nofollow links are also just as strong as follow links when it comes to driving referral traffic!

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Trust Flow & Citation Flow Explained

As Google takes the authority of a website into account when calculating PageRanks, domain authority is an important factor within SEO. Trust & Citation Flow are used as an indication of website authority, so we’ve broken down what they are and how to use them to assess domain authority. 

Trust Flow and Citation Flow are useful insights into how search engines assess a website, and can be important in improving your search engine optimisation both is analysing your own site and any sites used for link building.

Trust Flow

Essentially, Trust Flow is a numerical indication of how reliable a URL will be. 

Trust Flow is presented as a score between zero and a hundred which is an indicator of how good a page’s authority is. A URL’s Trust Flow value is calculated based on the domain it originates in, the quality of existing backlinks and links, and how it sits in comparison to similar trusted websites. The result is a qualitative analysis of the trustworthiness of a URL. Trust Flow, or variations of it, are used for ranking by all search engines.

A Trust Flow of higher than ten is recommended if a website is selling links or sponsored articles. Putting backlinks on websites with a Trust Flow lower than five can negatively impact your website’s authority and own Trust Flow.

Citation Flow

Contrary to Trust Flow, Citation Flow assess the popularity of a URL without factoring in quality.

Citation Flow is also a score between zero and a hundred and can predict the potential influence or reach a URL will have. Citation Flow is calculated based on the number of backlinks your URL has, and also accounts for the Citation Flow of the URL the backlink originates from. Although this is not a qualitative analysis, a backlink from a URL with a high Citation Flow will positively impact your own Citation Flow as it is based on popularity. Backlinks from URLs with high Citation Flow and low Trust Flow will still improve your Citation Flow, but will negatively impact your Trust Flow at the same time. 

The Golden Ratio

The ratio of Trust Flow to Citation Flow is important when assessing a URL’s reliability and potential benefit to your own website. A ratio of one or more is best, as it shows a site is as qualitatively reliable as it is popular, however, a ratio higher than 0.5 is considered good in terms of quality and popularity. 

If a URL’s ratio is below 0.5 this shows poor quality as the Trust Flow is largely outweighed by a high volume Citation Flow. This can be an indication that the URL in question has used spam tactics and low-quality backlinks to build its Citation Flow.

Improving Authority

In order to improve your website’s domain authority and search engine rankings, it is crucial to work on your Trust Flow and Citation Flow. The higher these values are the better you will rank, provided your Citation Flow is not inordinately inflated in comparison to your Trust Flow.

As Trust Flow is a quality-based metric, building up your website’s Trust Flow can take time. Creating authentic backlinks, on sites with high Trust Flow will help improve your own score.  One good-quality backlink is more valuable to your Trust Flow than several lower quality ones. Keeping backlinks within the topic of your website and avoiding irrelevant backlinks can also help. For example, if your website sells phones, linking to other technology sites is useful, but linking to a site selling groceries would not benefit your Trust Flow in the same way.

If your Trust Flow increases, Citation Flow will also increase, however the same is not true of the reverse. Citation Flow will increase naturally from the flow of traffic from wood quality backlinks. Internal linking (linking to other pages within your website) can also benefit your Citation Flow score as search engines do assess the flow of traffic within your website. So a well-structured and easy-to-navigate website will, inevitably, boost your Citation Flow.

In short, Trust Flow and Citation Flow are an important measure of your domain’s authority and are benefitted by quality backlinking which creates organic traffic. 

 

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02071831022

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FootPrint, 8 Lee Street

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Footprint is a trading name of Footprint PR Ltd

Where should I point my backlink profile?

Your backlink profile is hugely important when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation. Aside from focusing on the referring domains, the backlink’s destination on your own website is an influential factor in the value the backlinks have.

Diversity

A key factor with backlink profiles is diversity. This doesn’t just apply to the referring domains, but also to the destinations of the backlinks on your own website. 

More often than not, backlinks will point to a website’s homepage. This is good for when you are first building your website’s SEO presence but as your backlink profile progresses so should your link diversity. 

Ideally, you want backlinks leading to a variety of blogs, landing or product pages, as well as your homepage. Obviously, this is dependent on what your website does, but whether you’re selling a product or sharing information, diversity is still important to your backlink profile.

That isn’t to say that you need to make sure every page on your website has multiple backlinks – some pages might not be suitable for backlinking, but it is important to have a good mix of pages within your backlink profile. 

 

Relevance

There needs to be a relationship between the website destination of your backlink and your anchor text, the actual text hyperlinked on the referring domain.

Search engines will assess the relevancy of your anchor text to the target page and factor this in when evaluating the quality of the backlink. Ideally, you want there to be a direct link between the anchor text and the content of the destination page. For example, pointing a backlink towards your homepage from an anchor text mentioning a specific product will not have as positive an impact as linking to that specific product page. Equally, anchor text containing specific keywords from the content of the destination page (e.g. the title of the page) will be far more effective than a generic call to action, such as ‘Click Here’.

Similarly, backlinks do drive traffic and you want users to reach a relevant page after following a hyperlink, rather than then needing to navigate through your website. So making sure your backlink destinations match your anchor text should ensure users find what the anchor text promises and the end of the backlink and thus reduce your bounce rate. 

In essence, the key to creating successful backlinking that search engines will see as good quality is creating a diverse selection of relevant links. For more information on assessing the quality of backlinks and referring domains, you can visit our article on backlink audits.

Telephone

02071831022

Address

FootPrint, 8 Lee Street

London, E8 4DY

© 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Footprint is a trading name of Footprint PR Ltd

FootPRint’s Top Tips for Evaluating the Value of Backlinks

Aside from driving referral traffic, quality backlinks that point towards your website have a trackable effect on your PageRanks. We’ve collected our five best tips for assessing your backlinks to ensure they are having a positive effect on your website.

Referring Domains and Backlink Volume

The first thing to look at is the number of referring domains your backlinks are from and the total number of backlinks you have.

Variation is key here and ideally you want a wide range of domains with a few links on each, rather than a small number of domains with a lot of links on each. Too much of the latter (high volume of links : few domains) can be seen as similar to spam tactics by search engines. Whereas more diversity (low volume of links : many domains) is rewarded by search engines as the varied network of links suggests natural growth and a variety of votes of confidence from other sites.

Referring Domains and Authority

The second factor to consider in relation to your referring domains is their authority.

If a search engine sees a site as spam, any backlinks present are judged as poorer quality than those on trusted sites. Having backlinks which sit on spam sites with poor domain authority can negatively impact your own domain’s authority by association, and consequently lower your PageRanks. Assessing the Trust Flow and Citation Flow of the referring domain is useful for deciding whether it has value to you as a backlink. A backlink on a trusted site is positive for your site’s own Trust Flow and Citation Flow.

You can read more about Trust Flow and Citation Flow and how to analyse their values here.

Referring Domains and Relevance

In regards to referring domains, the last thing to consider is their relevance.

There’s little point in having backlinks on websites that are irrelevant to your own site. Not only will they be of little use in driving traffic, but search engines will judge the backlinks to be lesser in quality because the websites it connects are unrelated. So looking how topically relevant referring domains are can give you an indicator of their value to your backlink profile. 

This relevancy needs to be reasonably specific, there’s no point having a backlink to your website selling phones, on a blog about dishwashers just because they’re both under the banner of technology.

Anchor Text and Backlink destinations

Our fourth tip is to look at the quality of the anchor text, this is the text on the referring domain which is hyperlinked to your own site.

Assessing the anchor text on a linguistic level is useful because search engines look for unnatural phrasing which could be spam. If your anchor text has been made to fit a sentence in an unnatural way, it also makes users less likely to click on the link. So, making sure your anchor text is consistent with the style of the text it sits within will help improve the quality of your backlink.

Additionally, the anchor text’s relevance to the destination of your backlink should also be considered. As spam sites sometimes use irrelevant ‘clickbait’ anchor text to gain traffic, search engines will also look at the link between your anchor text and your website page the backlink leads to. Not only will relevant anchor text improve your backlink’s quality in the eyes of search engines, it will also reduce the bounce rate of your referral traffic.

Referral Traffic

Even if referral traffic isn’t the goal of your backlink, looking at the rate of referral traffic can give you an indication of a backlink’s value to your site.

If a backlink is producing a high volume of traffic it is worth looking at the anchor text and referring domain to analyse what’s working about that backlink specifically. High volumes of referral traffic can positively impact your domain’s authority and consequently PageRank. 

Equally, if a backlink is producing little or no traffic it is worth investigating the referring domain and the anchor text. If a link is producing little traffic and you find it to be of poor quality or a site with a low Trust Flow, it is better to remove it than keep it as its existence will not benefit your backlink profile.

Audit regularly

Auditing your backlink profile regularly is essential for maintaining it. 

Even if you have checked a referring domain before, if a domain’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow have changed, so will the value of any backlinks present there. Maintaining a healthy backlink profile relies on frequent monitoring to ensure backlinks are diverse, relevant, and of a high quality. 

Quality backlinks will always be more useful to your search engine optimization than merely a high volume of backlinks.

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02071831022

Address

FootPrint, 8 Lee Street

London, E8 4DY

© 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Footprint is a trading name of Footprint PR Ltd

Article Seeding and Online PR: What’s the difference?

With so many elements to digital marketing, it can be confusing to find the best way to achieve your desired results. As Article Seeding and Online PR are great ways to improve brand visibility, we’ve broken down both activities and how they differ to help you out.

Whether you’re selling a product, sharing content, or teaching users about a subject, there’s no denying that all websites need an audience. Digital marketing is the practice of creating and maintaining this audience and relies both on directly reaching users and boosting your site’s PageRank to indirectly reach potential users as you appear higher on search engine results. Essentially, good digital marketing will be aimed at improving Google’s opinion of your brand, as much as it is on improving customer opinion.

Online PR

Far more than just digital press releases, Online Public Relations is focused on communicating with customers and potential customers about a brand to improve its visibility and reputation. 

Online PR differs from traditional PR in that it focuses on direct communication with the audience through internet channels and social media, rather than just traditional platforms such as TV, radio and newspapers. Although traditional platforms are included within the potential targets of Online PR, the diversification of potential channels for reaching customers means Online PR can have a far wider reach than traditional PR.

Although it encompasses social media platforms, this is not the only focus of Online PR as there is such a wide range of channels to reach customers through. Target areas of Online PR include social media platforms, blogs, awards and events, relevant websites and companies, columns and news outlets, and search engine optimisation. Examples of activity within these areas include content creation and marketing, building relations, analytics, and link building.

Article Seeding

Focused specifically on link building, Article Seeding is the practice of planting blogs on external websites which contain links back to your own site.

As a marketing approach, Article Seeding is focused on creating a network of links that feed organic traffic to and through your website. This increases both brand visibility, and the credibility of your backlink profile, all while driving traffic to your site. In order to receive a good click rate and improve your Trust Flow, articles need to be seeded on a trustworthy website that has topical relevance to your brand. Seeding articles on poor quality or irrelevant sites can negatively impact your Google PageRanks, even if they do drive traffic.

Creating articles for seeding which are creative and relevant to your customers is important, and using key brand terms or current topics within your articles can help increase their visibility. The aim of article seeding is to place articles in the path of people who will be interested in them and thus more likely to visit your site, but this can’t happen if you are seeding poor-quality articles.

So – what’s the difference?

Online PR refers to a whole host of digital marketing activities, whereas Article Seeding is a specific area of Online PR which focuses on building a credible backlink profile to increase PageRank and drive traffic. You can learn more about how backlinking can specifically affect your PageRank here.

Despite it fitting within their activities, not all Online PR firms will deal with Article Seeding as it is just one technique for building brand awareness. For example, campaigns focusing on social media will increase brand visibility and reach customers, but will not necessarily improve a website’s PageRanks even though they create traffic. 

Choosing a digital marketing strategy that is suited to the specific goals you have in mind for your brand is important, as different types of digital marketing activity will benefit your site in different ways.

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Telephone

02071831022

Address

FootPrint, 8 Lee Street

London, E8 4DY

© 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Footprint is a trading name of Footprint PR Ltd