Dofollow and nofollow links: which to use and when

Dofollow and nofollow links - which one should you use and when?

Dofollow and nofollow links are always controversial in the blogging community. Dofollow can help the destination URL get a higher domain authority and nofollow don’t. Read on to find out more as I dig deeper into the what, when and why.

What is domain authority and why is it important?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of dofollow and nofollow links we first need to have a chat about domain authority.

Your domain is the main part of your blog’s URL, for example my domain is Every domain has an ‘authority’ which is a score out of 100.

It’s basically a predictor of your website’s Google search rankings. The higher your score the more likely you are to rank in Google search results. It’s not a certainty – you’ve obviously still got to do your keyword research  but a high DA definitely won’t hurt.

Domain authority is calculated by looking at several metrics including links to the domain and total number of links.

If you want to check your domain authority download the MozBar and have a look.

What exactly is the difference between dofollow and nofollow links?

Ok so what’s this got to do with dofollow and nofollow links, I hear you cry? Don’t worry I’m getting to it.

When you link to another website from your blog you’re basically saying ‘this is a good source of information’. So much so that you’re linking directly to it so your readers can check it out.

When Google sees this link in your post it adds more credibility to the site that your link points to.

It takes your domain authority into account when it decides how much weight to place on your link. So if two sites have a link to the same site, the link coming from the site with the higher DA will have a more positive impact on the linked-to site’s DA.

All links are by default dofollow links, which means that when those cute little Googlebots crawl your site (they’re just lines of code, but I like to think of them as cute little mice), they’ll follow the links to crawl the linked-to site. That’s where dofollow comes from.

A nofollow link, as the name suggests, tells those little cuties at Google not to follow the link. So the don’t have any impact on the linked-to site’s domain authority.

Think of it this way, you don’t want to make those cute little Googlebots crawl the length of the internet unless it’s for something really good, do you?

When to use dofollow and nofollow links

Ok so now we’re getting into the juicy shizzle. This is where the contrversy comes into the whole dofollow/nofollow debate.

If you’ve had any kind of compensation for a blog post e.g. you’ve been gifted an item to review, or you’ve been paid to write the post, any links to the product’s website should be nofollow.

It’s not illegal for paid links to be dofollow. HOWEVER, it is against Google’s guidelines. If they catch you doing it, your site will be heavily penalised. You’ll be told to remove them and your site’s appearance in Google’s search rankings will be pretty much non-existent until they’re satisfied that all links have been removed.

From what I’ve heard, they’re rarely in a rush to reinstate your rankings either.

Even though they’re against Google guidelines, paid dofollow links are something that is rife within the blogging comunity. I’m not judging anyone who accepts them. People have mouths to feed and at the end of the day you’ve got to do what you need to survive. I’ve not (yet) been in a position where I needed to accept them so I’m in no position to judge.

There are some awful SEO agencies out there who prey on low income bloggers. Offering them pittance for dofollow links knowing that they’ll accept it.

All I can do is give you the info – you can lead a horse to water and all that. At least you can make an informed choice from here on in.

How do I make sure my links are nofollow?

So know you know all about dofollow and nofollow links, I reckon you’ll be wanting to know how to make sure a link is nofollow. Am I right?

Like I said earlier, all links are dofollow by default. You only need to worry about links to sites that have been paid for. There are a couple of options when it comes to making links nofollow.

You can either use a plugin or do it manually. I can hear those cogs turning, if you can use a plugin then why am I bothering to tell you that you can do it manually?

Using a plugin

Well first of all, you know I’m all about keeping plugins to a minimum – if they’re not essential then I say get rid. This is for a few different reasons including the impact that they can have on blog loading speed and the unnecessary space they take up on your host.

But also, with the recent updates to the WordPress editor – i.e. the introduction of Gutenberg and the total overhaul it’s had including the way you create links, there have been a few reports of these type of plugins not working with Gutenberg.

For the time being there are workarounds – you can edit your links in the classic WordPress editor, but that’s not a guaranteed long term solution.

There will come a time when the classic WordPress editor is dropped completely. It might not be as soon as WordPress 5 is released, but you can bet your life it won’t be long afterwards. So that means you’re at the mercy of the plugin creator – will they or won’t they fix the plugin to work with Gutenberg? I have no idea.

If you decide you want to use a plugin, this is one of the more popular ones.

Ultimate Nofollow

One of the most popular nofollow link plugins is Ultimate Nofollow. It adds an extra checkbox to the options available in the link options popup.

To make a link nofollow using this plugin, add your link as normal. Then click the cog icon in the link settings popup.
you’ll then see a checkbox asking if you want to make the link nofollow. Check it and click Add Link then the link will be made nofollow.

Add your link as usual.
Click the cog button.
Check the ‘Add rel=”nofollow” to link checkbox

***This doesn’t work in Gutenberg as the screenshot below shows***

If you want nofollow links using Gutenberg you’ll need to follow my manual instructions further down. Or you can edit the links in the post using the classic WordPress editor – that will give you the options shown above.

There’s no checkbox when using Gutenberg.

Beware, if the plugin fails or you decide to remove it, it *could* effect all the links on your site that are set to be nofollow in this way.

Posted by The Blog Genie on Monday, 24 September 2018

Doing it manually

This is how I make my links nofollow. You’re in for a treat today people because not only am I going to show you how to use it with the classic WordPress editor, I’m also going to show you in Gutenberg. That’s right,  this is a 2-for-1 kind of a deal. No need to thank me, in the words of Maui – you’re welcome 😉

Using the classic WordPress editor

Lets get the old faithful out of the way first. Much as I’m grateful for the old WordPress editor – in a nostalgic ‘this is what I used to write blog posts in the good ole’ days’ kind of way, it’s time for it to make way for the new kid on the block. Even so, it still deserves some respect after the millions of blog posts that have been written with it over the years. Anyway, less of the nostalgia – lets get stuck in.

So the first thing you want to do is create your link as normal. Type the the text that you’re going to add the link to or add the image if you want the image to be a link.

Then you want to click the text tab at the top right of the WordPress editor. Here’s a handy tip – highlight the text or image on the visual tab before you click the text tab When you click the text tab the code that makes that element will be highlighted.

So once you’ve found the code for the link you need to add this code to the link:


So here’s a full example:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">This is a no follow link</a>

It honestly is that simple and here’s the step by step picture tutorial to show you.

Create your link as usual.
Find the code for your link.
Add this snippet to it.
The link looks like any other.


It’s pretty similar to manually create a nofollow link using Gutenberg.
Again you create your link as you would any other, whether it’s text or image.

For a text link, click the 3 dots button on the toolbar that appears above the block. Click Edit as HTML. You’ll then see the selected block’s HTML code.

Find the HTML for the link and add this code to the link:


So the full example would look like this:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">This is a no follow link</a>
Edit the block as HTML.
Add the snippet of code.
The link looks like any other.

How switch from using a nofollow plugin to the manual way?

The easiest way would be to use a browser extension like Automatic Backlink Checker for Chrome, which highlights all your links. Dofollow links will be coloured red and nofollow in blue. You can then make a note of them in a spreadsheet somewhere for you to sort manully after you’ve removed the plugin. This nifty little extension also checks for broken links (but I’ve not tested that feature yet).

My menu items are red because they don’t have the rel=”nofollow” on the links.

Dofollow and nofollow links – the verdict

Domain authority is a predictor of search engine rankings.

Dofollow links tell the Googlebots that you think it’s a link worth following and that it should add to the linked site’s domain authority.

Paid dofollow links, whilst not illegal, are frowned upon and if Google catch you doing it, they will heavily penalise you in their search rankings.

All links are dofollow by default. You’ll need to change links in any paid content to nofollow by using a plugin or one of the two manual processes I’ve outlined in this post.

You may also enjoy:

What’s an XML sitemap and does your blog need one?

Your Complete Guide to Gutenberg (includes a download)

How to use a broken link checker, and why it’s really important

2 Comments on “Dofollow and nofollow links: which to use and when”

  1. Great information! I might have missed this – but what about affiliate links? Are those to be no follow because there is compensation when they click? Does that affect your affiliate from connecting a purchase? Thanks again, Kim!

    1. They should be no-follow as well because you’re earning commission. It shouldn’t affect your commission because the no-follow attribute is for search engines only

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