Ranking Keyword Phrases | The Influence of NoFollow Links

Today, I am excited to present an article written by Eren McKay.  Eren is not only a wonderful friend of mine but a marvel in the SEO world.  I’ve learned so much from Eren over the time I’ve known her and I was honored when she agreed to guest blog for me!

In this article, Eren presents some fascinating information on what NoFollow Links really are, what they mean to your website’s rankings, and how to  test  for yourself the influence of NoFollow links .

Thank you Eren.  Thank you for being so open and sharing this kind of valuable information with me and my readers.

Be sure to visit Eren’s website!  Links are provided below.



Ranking Keyword Phrases and nofollow link influence How Does a Nofollow Link Influence the Rankings for Keyword Phrases?

Anyone who has a blog or website knows that creating great content is only a piece of the puzzle of getting noticed and consequently attracting more business on the internet. Even if you have the best content in the world, it won’t really matter if people don’t see it. So the other (and more important piece) to the puzzle of making it online is to promote that content.

Occasions when it doesn’t matter if the links are nofollow:

Of course when you start to market and promote your pages, you will be linking to them from places outside of your own website. If your goal is simply to create a marketing campaign, then you shouldn’t care whether the link has the nofollow tag or not. The goal of that kind of link is not to help you rank in the search engines but to leverage off of the traffic that the other websites already have. So even though that link is “nofollow” it still adds value to your marketing campaign. The nofollow tag shouldn’t stop you from creating a campaign for exposure.

Thinking more about the long term.

However if you would like to have consistent traffic from the search engines (such as Google), then you will want to create a campaign that not only leverages traffic from other sites but at the same time adds value to help you rank for your targeted keyword phrases. If ranking matters to you then you will want to obtain links that don’t have the nofollow tag on them. There are people that believe that nofollow links will still help you rank. However the head of Google’s Webspam team Matt Cutts openly says on his blog that they will not help you rank.
Here is a portion of what he said:

[*] Nofollow links definitely don’t pass PageRank. Over the years, I’ve seen a few corner cases where a nofollow link did pass anchortext, normally due to bugs in indexing that we then fixed. The essential thing you need to know is that nofollow links don’t help sites rank higher in Google’s search results.

Know the difference between being discovered and ranking.

It’s important to understand that getting a nofollow link will probably help your page get discovered by the search engines and consequently indexed. Spiders still follow the nofollow tag. However getting indexed is not helping in rankings. It simply means that your page has been found. By knowing that links without the nofollow tag are more valuable, you can promote your content in a way that will help you in the long term.

Can anyone be sure that nofollow doesn’t pass anchor text and ranking juice?

There are over 200 factors that influence the ranking of a page in Google. So when creating a test on a certain factor, you need to be able to isolate the other hundreds of factors to be sure that the test wasn’t skewed. If you don’t do this then the conclusions that you come to based on your “test” will be faulty.

You can create your own tests with the nofollow attribute.

The best way to do this is to decide on a unique keyword phrase text that is not on any page on the internet; not even on your own page that you are trying to optimize. That way, the “on page optimization” factors won’t influence the results.

After creating this unique keyword phrase, use it in a no followed link as anchor text. Make sure the page where the link is placed is indexed. After a week or so, search for your anchor text in Google with the allinanchor command. For example allinanchor:“unique keyword phrase”. If no results come up then the no follow link is not being counted. You can create more no follow links that have the same anchor text and point to the page also. Just to make sure, go back every few weeks and put the command in again. If you do this for several months and there still are no results then you can know that Google is not counting that anchor text from the nofollow link.

You can also place the unique keyword phrase without quotes into Google and see if the page you are trying to rank for the unique keyword phrase comes up in the first 100 results.

I have seen tests like these done and the nofollow links still have not given any anchor text value even from 5 years ago. Therefore my conclusion is that nofollow links do not help in ranking in the search engines and it’s best to target places that don’t add that kind of tag when your goal is to rank your pages.

Eren Mckay is a stay at home mom to 3 boys who created a cool baby shower themes website. She provides resources like these monkey theme baby shower invitations and frog baby shower party supplies.

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  1. Hi John,
    the best thing that you can do is create your own SEO nofollow test isolating the factors. Just follow the instructions step by step that I have given in the article and see what the results are. That way you can figure out exactly what factors are influencing your rankings. Remember that there are over 200 factors that influence a page ranking in Google. So there could have been several things that helped you rank that you aren`t taking into consideration.
    All the best,

  2. Hi Clay,
    Yes I agree. That strategy has worked for many people. But of course the best thing to do is to test, test, test. When we start doing things we begin to see what really works. It’s good to vary where you use this technique. If I were to implement this strategy, I wouldn’t always be the first on the same blog.
    Thanks for stopping by 🙂
    All the best,

  3. Great article. I like the scientific approach to determining the value of “no-follow” links. Appreciate the distinction of getting traffic from no-follow links vs. page rank. I believe that being the first to post a comment on a high traffic blog, even if no follow can generate some traffic to your site. Would you agree?

  4. @Doc – I agree that social sites links have somewhat influence. In my opinion Google already knows the difference between a no follow link from Twitter and a no follow link from a comment. I truly believe they have put the big names like Twitter and Facebook in the algorithm ( or at least will be soon) but they probably can’t put too much emphasis on those because it’s so easy for automated spammers to use those to manipulate the search engines. Of course these are all my assumptions as only Google knows the actual algorithm. In relation to PageRank I also don’t think it’s a huge factor only one of the 200 signals. I’ve seen pages ranking without any visible PageRank for competitive terms. Of course it has some but not enough to even get to a 1 in the scale.

    @Bill – Absolutely- it’s good to have no follow links for the whole natural feel to a link profile.

    @Greg – I agree that having a few no follow links is good to make it all look natural but that’s about all they’re good for in my opinion 🙂

    Thanks for commenting.
    All the best,

  5. Good post, Eren!
    Up until a month or two ago, I would have agreed that nofollow links didn’t help any in ranking in the SERPs. Now, however, I’m not as sure. I see so many changes taking place, particularly as pertain to the social media side of things, that lead me to believe that nofollow links may be seen somewhat like citations.

    Obviously, their place in discovery efforts has existed for quite some time. But now that Google and Bing have admitted that they look at tweeters’ and likers’ profiles in order to “weight” their influence, it seems logical to me that something other than link juice is going to have to come into play.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I suspect that PageRank will be going away, in favor of something more akin to a “relevancy rank”, which will vary from one query to another. That seems to me to be the next logical progression on the path to a Semantic Web. If (and I realize it’s a big “if”) that turns out to be the case, then nofollow will mean little, IMO.

  6. We like to see no-follow links in a client’s link profile. All no-follow just isn’t natural. I do like your point that a good no-follow link can help a new page get discovered (eg Twitter).

  7. Great post Eren…

    I believe that nofollow links do help with rankings and should not be overlooked just because they are nofollow. Adding nofollow links to a backlink portfolio make it look and feel more natural. They may not pass any link juice or anchor text value, but they do strengthen a portfolio of links due to their diverse nature making every other link you obtain more valuable.

    Thanks for sharing!


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