“No-follow” Does Not Mean “Don’t Care” in Search Engine Ranking

When you click a link online, do you know how much authority that link gives the website you’re going to when it comes to being ranked by search engines?

Apparently a lot of authority, and not just for traditional coded links. SearchMetrics placed no-follow tags as the fifth-most important search engine ranking factor for 2014, right behind click-through rates, relevant keyword terms, number of backlinks and SEO visibility of the backlinking URL.

What are no-follow tags, and why are they so important?

No-follow is a code added to a link embedded on a website. Search engines like Google track regular, non-coded links, and use the information gleaned from how many times those links are clicked to help give a website authority. A no-follow tag embedded in the link tells the search engine to not track the authority of the site.

That doesn’t mean search engines can’t “see” the links. It just means they don’t recognize if the link is establishing authority for the website. And because the links are still visible, they are still a factor in determining whether users are finding websites to be authoritative. This results in better rankings.

Do no-follow tags require a change in keywords?

The words that are hyperlinked are called keywords. Keywords are a huge factor in helping to determine rankings.

It doesn’t matter if a no-follow code is added to the link or not, because the search engines still know what the keywords are. Think of it this way: You’re reading a blog about the best foods to serve your guests for the holidays. The blog writer linked the keyword phrase “best apple pie,” but coded it with a no-follow tag. You click the “best apple pie” link, and it sends you to a common online recipe website. The search engine you’re using recognized that the keywords “best apple pie” got you to click, therefore helping to increase the authority of the online recipe website.

And of course, the more clicks that happen, the higher the authority ranking goes.

If you determine no-follow links are important because you want to avoid the appearance that you’re involved in a suspicious SEO marketing scheme, it’s still important to continue following  natural SEO best practices when it comes to keywords. It will help your overall rank in the long run.

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