There have been lots of discussions recently about whether nofollow / dofollow is really an issue nowadays in SEO. I firmly believe that Google’s guidance on nofollow is correct – nofollows pass zero benefit on to the linking destination. As part of an aggregate link profile nofollow links are important – a natural link profile will contain nofollow links; Google may suspect a manipulated link profile if all links are dofollow. A good analogy for this is that of an aeroplane – having an aerodynamic shape will help the plane fly, but isn’t itself the driver of the flight. You still need fuel. Without fuel, the plane won’t fly. In terms of links, dofollow links are the fuel that gets the plane off the gound. Nofollow links are the aerodynamic-ness of the plane that help us to fly. This is possibly a bad analogy, but I think that it makes the point.
To test this, I’m going to insert two outbound links within this post, using a Googlewhack for each anchor text. A Googlewhack is a search result that consists of two real world words that when combined, return no search results. The benefits of using a Googlewhack is that it makes it much easier for testing the power of links. Googlewhacks used to be much easier to find (before Google used rankbrain), so for the benefit of this test I’ll be using non-real words. The words I’ve chosen to use are:
As of today (Friday 21st June), neither of these keywords return any results within Google:
I’ve also combined the Googlewhack with text from each heading (Stewart + Britons) as that may be required to get these pages (without which, these anchor texts would be Googlebombs, and may not get the destination page ranking).
As linking destinations I’ve chosen two news articles published on Wednesday 19th June.
The link to the BBC will be a nofollow. The link to the Guardian will be a dofollow.
Once Google has crawled all pages and carried out the relevant link analysis (which may take several weeks) we’d expect The Guardian article to begin ranking for “ushushpizza palooza Britons” due to Google passing benefit for the dofollow link. We’d expect the BBC not to rank for “Localdocalwizzwozz shaloooba Stewart” due to Google not passing benefit for the nofollow link. At the same time, this article that you’re reading should start ranking for both of these keywords, since they’re mentioned several times throughout this post.