When it comes to building a strong web presence, few things are more important than SEO. By increasing your rankings in Google and other search engines, potential customers are more likely to discover your business when they conduct an online search.

While optimizing and improving your website is an essential part of SEO, there are several off-site methods that can also play a significant role in improving your rankings. Generating links to your site from other platforms can serve as a powerful ranking signal — but only if the right type of link is being used.

What’s the Difference Between Follow & Nofollow Links?

Follow and nofollow links have been a part of the SEO landscape for quite some time. While the average internet user won’t notice a difference between the two, these links mean very different things for your site rankings.

When someone clicks on either a follow or nofollow link, they will be taken to the associated site. However, nofollow links have an additional “nofollow” tag added as an HTML attribute by the website publisher. This means that the website hosting the link is essentially telling Google that the link is not trusted. As a result, the nofollow link will not provide any SEO benefit. No ranking attributes are passed on to the linked site.

Nofollow links were largely introduced to keep people from spamming links in the comments section as a black hat SEO technique. However, many publications now apply nofollow links to all links included in their content.

Google Steps In

Google’s John Mueller recently sparked debate with his own comments regarding nofollow links. As reported by SearchEngineJournal, he said, “I understand not knowing which links you can trust. But essentially, if you’re a news publisher, you should trust what you’re writing about. Or you should be able to understand which part of the content that you write about is actual content that you want to have indexed–that you want to stand for. If these are things that you want to stand for then make sure you have normal links on there.”

In other words, Google believes that news publishers should use normal links that provide page rank value. It indicates that the publisher stands by the sources referenced in its content. While some view this as an unmanageable solution, others have been quick to support these statements.

What Does This Mean For Website Owners?

Third-party links to your site matter. While a nofollow link may still lead someone to your website if they read an article and click on the associated link, this won’t do nearly as much good for your SEO rankings. A follow link will help bolster your page authority by providing a ranking signal to search engines.

As such, when pitching a story idea to a publisher or writing a guest post, it pays to know whether the publisher allows follow links within its content.

Guest blogging and other SEO-related activities require a lot of time and effort. You don’t want your marketing budget to go to waste by only accumulating nofollow links. By understanding what kind of an SEO impact you’re paying for, you will be more likely to achieve the desired results from your campaigns.