Dofollow Links that are not helping your SEO
Dofollow links pass authority (aka link juice, or PageRank), while nofollow links can’t.
You already know it, if you are into SEO. However, this definition is already outdated.
We will discuss how a solid-looking SEO fact, in fact, can be nothing but a wrong type of assumption only.
1. All dofollow links are not created equal
I don’t need to tell you all links are not the same. You already know it, right?
Because there are high-quality links, and low-quality links.
No, no. That is not what I mean.
Certain dofollow links are treated as “nofollow” by Google.
But why? Or at least how do I know it?
I will answer that question. But before than that, let’s remember what are the nofollow links.
Nofollows are the links that don’t pass PageRank to the page they refer to. They tell Google, I link to that page as a source, but don’t take it as my endorsement.
These links are generally used for affiliate links, blog commenting links, and all other types of self-created links on a third party website.
Any time you place a “rel” attribute in front of a link, that link is generally not followed by Google. We also know Google has recently come up with new nofollow link attributes.
Google emphasized earlier the importance of using nofollow tags if you allow user-generated content on your website. What that means, if you allow people creating links on your site, keep them as nofollow.
However, there are still many webmasters that are not aligned with this best practice. There are still many websites even high authority ones that don’t follow Google’s guidelines.
They allow people to sign up for an account, and place a page of content to build a dofollow contextual backlink in minutes only.
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Think about it for a second.
What are the chances of those links to boost the authority of a website?
I don’t mean those links are bad. What I want to say, easier the way for you to build a link, less valuable it is. Because, if something is very accessible for everyone, everyone out there will exploit it.
Let’s remember a few very well-known facts about Google.
- It is a multibillion-dollar tech company.
- The biggest asset of Google is its algorithm.
- It cares if its algorithm provides the best results.
- It uses artificial intelligence.
- It has thousands of manual reviewers around the world.
Most people still think Google’s algorithm like a piece of static code written by a group of engineers. That is right, most people’s approach to SEO today is still like in 1999.
But times have been changing already a long time.
Google has consistently bettered its game over the last 20+ years. Google’s algorithm has seen thousands of new updates yearly. If you wonder how many updates it has seen year by year you can check out this post.
We are talking about an algorithm that has extensive learning capabilities. It uses artificial intelligence, user behavior metrics, and the new information fed by Google engineers and manual reviewers.
The websites that allow people creating content and linking to an external source are not the best places to build links. These dofollow links are devalued and marked not to be followed in Google’s algorithm.
Yes, technically these links are still dofollow links. However, they are reintroduced to the algorithm to be treated as nofollow links.
No one has access to Google’s secret sauce. We are just making educated estimations by looking at the current capabilities of Google. By looking at where Google stands today, thinking otherwise would be stupid.
If you and I know particular websites allow building high-quality dofollow links for free, Google definitely knows it. Those loopholes are likely to be already patched by Google.
Let’s continue to understand what other types of dofollow links may be devalued by Google as well.
2. Links from the pages with thin content
Here I am again, and challenging how you think about the dofollow links.
If you have links that come from pages that have less than 100 words of content only, chances are there, that links are not helping your SEO.
It can be 200, or 300 whatever the definition of thin content for Google. If you have links pointing to your site from almost a blank page, that links are not the good one.
This is a common footprint for the profile links, social bookmarking links, etc. Make sure you are getting links from the pages that have content on them.
3. Links from roundups, and directories
You probably know what a roundup is. A roundup is a collection of short pieces of content with links people submit one after another. The idea is generally sharing expert opinions about a particular topic. But it is the idea only. In reality, most people use it for link building only.
Google knows it.
Anytime a page links out to an unnaturally high number of other pages, Google concerns about it.
Links that come from pages with a disproportionate number of content/external links ratio will not likely pass much authority.
Google tracks everything and already know how often pages naturally should link out.
One other example is the directory sites you submit your site and get your link on the same page with hundreds of other websites.
4. Links that are not contextual
I have already discussed in my other post why guest posting may be dead.
We know Google doesn’t want you to reach out to other blogs to place your links.
Then here comes the question.
What is the most common footprint of a guest post?
A link placed usually at the bottom of a page, particularly in the last paragraph. Author box links maybe dofollow but highly devalued by Google. If you really want to guest post on a website for having a backlink, try to get your link from the body of the content.
You should have text before and after your link. Negotiate with the site owner not to get your link from an author bio, rather ask to get from the middle of the content.
5. Links that are irrelevant
Relevancy is the number #1 priority of Google. I don’t understand the people’s persistence to have links from entrepreneur or Inc magazine. Although these links have high authority, they are not relevant, also very hard to get.
Let’s say you have a gardening website. A link that comes from a site about gardening or agriculture can be more valuable for you. Don’t focus too much on the Domain authority number provided by the tools. Rather target the relevancy first.
The capabilities of Google measuring relevancy and trust is million times bigger than Ahrefs, Moz and Majestic combined.
6. Links that are from a flagged website
If you buy links, rather than using whitehat organic outreach you may have problems you are not even aware of.
Websites that sell links sell them systematically. They have sold them before you buy and will continue to sell them in the future.
Google continuously tracks link building behaviors of the websites. Link velocity, link profile growth, and other important metrics are under Google’s constant supervision.
If you buy links from a website that is obviously selling links, these links will not help your SEO. Once is maybe OK, twice can be still fine. But if you consistently get links from these types of sites you will likely have penalties.
The worst thing is to have a Google penalty. You may lose your organic traffic for weeks and even months. Also unless you convince Google they will not remove it. Also, Google doesn’t have to let you know if your website is subject to a penalty.
If it is a manual penalty, yes you can see it under your Web console, but if it is an algorithmic penalty, you will pull out your hair wanting to know reasons why your website gets no traffic.
7. Links That Are Taller Than You
Most websites cannot handle well high authority links. What do I mean, sites that are not likely to link out us are question marks for Google.
If you have .edu .or. gov links too early in your link portfolio, you may trigger red flags in Google’s algorithm. We know Google has teams of manual reviewers. If you push certain buttons, your site may be sent to a real human for a verification.
Anytime you build a link, ask yourself “If this link I build is totally natural?”.
Always beware that your site can be reviewed by a human. Google does it. It chooses random websites systematically to qualify by the human reviewers, and they don’t need to let you know about that.
8. Links That Are Solo
Imagine a piece of content that links out nowhere else but to a single page only. This type of content is weirdo, bogus and ingenuine.
If you have a link from a page, make sure that page links out to other external sources as well. A normal web page normally links to both internal and external pages on the web.
9. Links from other TLDs
Having links from other TLDs is fine. However, most domains on the web have either .com, .net, .org extension.
If you have an English website and you disproportionately get links from other TLDs like .ru or .no it is questionable. If your link profile extends too far from its organic threshold, you may have problems.
10. Links from the sites in a different language
That is completely fine to have links from the websites that have content in a different language. However, if you have a website that publishes content in English, but most of your links come from other languages that will not make much sense for Google.
We don’t know what Google thinks about a specific link in our link portfolio. We just make educated estimations looking at Google’s current capabilities.
If you have used Google Adwords earlier, you have probably noticed Google can come with very specific comments for the content on a page you want to advertise. When I have used Adwords, I am surprised by the type of comments Google asked me to revise on the page level.
If a link is easily achievable, constantly available it is probably not something valuable. Also, a good link, or at least an acceptable link can be bad if it is overused.
I would recommend visiting the high authority websites like Mashable, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post and check their link profile. These kinds of large websites have the most organic link profile.
Google also models their link profiles as the “ideal link profile” in its core algorithm.
Visit those sites and try to analyze what percentage of their links are dofollow, or going home or internal pages, are these links image links or contextual ones, what anchor text distribution they have, etc.
Finally, develop a link building strategy that will work hands free at least after a certain period of time.
If you constantly pursue links, there is something wrong. Links should come to you through the high-quality content you have published. It is the only long term sustainable way of growing your website’s authority over time.