Follow Back? Why ‘No Follow’ Tags Are On The Rise

Link building is one of the most important parts of SEO, but recently there’s been a rise in the use of the ‘rel=”nofollow”’ tag on websites. What does this mean for brands that invest a lot of time and money into content marketing and SEO? Is link building a strategy of the past?

The Rise of No Follow Tags

If you’ve been in the digital marketing business for any time at all – especially on the content or SEO side – then you know how important backlinks are. For years, backlinks have been a staple component in SEO strategies across virtually every industry.

If you wanted to see your SERP’s rise, you invested in backlinks from high-authority sites. Today, there’s some question regarding whether or not this is still a sound strategy.

In a video released in December 2017, Google’s John Mueller suggested to “nofollow” all guest blog post links. For those who aren’t familiar, “nofollow” refers to the use of the “rel=nofollow” tag in a link’s URL. It essentially blocks “link juice” from being passed on from one site to the next.

While this is Mueller’s personal opinion – not necessarily Google’s stance – it’s becoming more mainstream. Leading publishers, in an effort to crack down on guest bloggers who sell paid backlinks, are trying to choke these link selling schemes out by using nofollow tags.

“There are at least three major sites where this will no longer work,” PR professional Blair Nicole writes. “Entrepreneur, Inc., and Forbes recently began turning all the external links in their articles to ‘no follow’ links, meaning there won’t be any more of that ‘link juice’ from backlinks on those sites.”

No Follow Links: Anything But Useless

At first glance, it may appear that link building is dead and the value in guest blogging is being choked out…but not so fast. Many leading SEO experts are still encouraging clients to pursue link building, even nofollow links.

“I feel comfortable saying that nofollow links definitely help your SEO, although most of the benefits are probably indirect,” digital marketing consultant Pratik Dholakiya says. “The exposure associated with a high-profile nofollow link is well worth the effort and contributes positively to your visibility in search results, as well as sending direct referral traffic and improving brand reach. It also appears to be almost indisputable that nofollow links help pages get indexed.”

SEO consultants like Aaron Rains of Aaron Rains SEO agree. However, it’s imperative that businesses work closely with experts in the field to understand what’s happening at both a micro and macro level in the SEO industry.

“I recommend regular SEO audits to almost all of my clients. Among other things, they help correct link building issues and ensure companies know when backlinks are being turned into nofollow links,” Rains explains. “As such, they can better strategize and maximize the usefulness of each and every link they’re investing in.”

White Hat SEO Gets Rewarded

At the end of the day, Google and high-authority websites aren’t trying to come down on the “little guy.” They’re ultimately trying to enhance the quality of content available to users, which means weeding out black hat SEO tactics and rewarding white hat techniques. As you address your content marketing and SEO strategies this year, make sure you’re playing by the rules and prioritizing quality above everything else.

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