In the SEO world, you’ll often hear people talking about two kinds of links. These are “follow” links, and “no-follow” links.
The oft-revered and much-beloved follow link is considered to be like apot of gold at the end of the link-building strategy rainbow. That’s because follow links send valuable signals to Google and the other search engines about the value, authority, importance, and relevancy of your website. And those signals affect your search engine rankings.
The no-follow link, on the other hand, is often sidelined in SEO strategies. That’s because the humble no-follow link doesn’t pass on “link juice” or “page rank”, and it doesn’t send signals to Google, which means it doesn’t help your website to rank higher in the search results.
We’re Doing it Wrong!
In sidelining the no-follow link, I believe web marketers are making a huge mistake: we are forgetting the true value inherent in any link, and we are ignoring what should actually be an important cornerstone of any link-building strategy.
“Why are we ignoring no-follow links?” you ask. I think we are ignoring them because we’re all too used to seeing link-building from a purely SEO perspective. And that needs to change.
Links as an SEO-only Concern: A Broken Paradigm
When you look at link-building from an SEO-only perspective, then a no-follow link holds no value. It doesn’t help your website’s search engine rankings, so it is completely irrelevant to anything.
But by looking at things this way, we are forgetting the ultimate goal of SEO. Because the ultimate goal of SEO isn’t actually a search engine ranking. Oh, no. The ultimate goal of SEO is website traffic. Quality website traffic. Website traffic that stays on the site we’ve guided it to. Website traffic that converts by following through with our desired call to action. And no-follow links help with that.
No-Follow Links Are Still Valuable Links
If we stop thinking about link-building from an SEO perspective, and instead look at it from a “website traffic optimisation” perspective, then the value of a no-follow link suddenly becomes clear. Because a no-follow link is still a portal to your website. A portal that potential visitors can clambour through, emerging at the other end bright-eyed and excited to find that they have arrived in a brand new world – your website’s world.
As you can see, once we remember that no-follow links drive traffic to our website just as easily as our high-search-ranking home page does, we begin to see the value in them again. Especially because no-follow links can sometimes drive web traffic to our website that’s much more targeted than the traffic that arrives via a page that ranks for a generic keyword term with questionable searcher intent.
So, What Next?
Now I’m not suggesting that you embark on a massive no-follow link-building campaign. But what I am saying is that if you are in the business of link-building, it’s time to stop thinking of no-follow links as a wasted opportunity, and stop ignoring opportunities for receiving them. Because while they mightn’t be valuable from an SEO perspective, they sure as hell can be valuable from a “website traffic optimisation” perspective.
Want to learn more about my approach to link-bulding? Check out this article.
What’s your approach to the follow vs. no-follow debate? Am I singing the praises of the humble no-follow link more than is deserved? Put forward your case for or against – I look forward to reading your thoughts!