Incoming links (or backlinks – BL) are of fundamental importance for SEO. The analysis of links that point to a site is one of Google’s main relevance criteria. The engine uses these elements to position a site in its search results.
Definition of a backlink
Backlink is an incoming link, a hypertext link (hyperlink) that points to a page on a website.
Several terms are used to describe an incoming link. You will find the following expressions used interchangeably: incoming link, return link and backlink, inbound link or inlink in English.
Functions of a backlink link
An incoming link has several roles:
- It brings visitors to the site to which it points. It therefore generates traffic on this site when Internet users click on it to follow it
- It transmits “link juice”, i.e. part of the power (from the Page Rank) from the page on which it is to the one to which it leads (the target page).
Types of links
We will come back here to the characteristics of follow and nofollow links.
The follow link
The follow link is a link that is followed by Google’s robot. We also speak of a dofollow link as opposed to a nofollow link. The idea is to allow Google to follow the link and take it into account in its algorithm. This is a positive sign, a recommendation you make to Google regarding this hyperlink.
By default, if no attributes are added to a link, it is a follow link.
A follow link can be identified in the source code by the following writing:
<a href=”http://www.monsite.com/”>Link to my site</a>
The nofollow link
The nofollow link is a link that exists on your page but to which you have added the attribute “rel = nofollow” to tell Google to ignore this link, i.e. not to follow it.
Google therefore explains that it does not transfer “neither the PageRank ranking nor the anchor text through these links”.
In the source code of the page, the no follow link is identified by the following writing:
<a href=”http://www.monsite.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link to my site</a>
Incoming links: an index for Google
To estimate the popularity and notoriety of a site, Google analyzes the number and quality of links that point to that site. A link is considered by the engine as a vote in favor of this site.
Backlinks are therefore a fundamental element for SEO. The more good backlinks you have, the better your site will be positioned in Google’s results. To know what are the criteria of a good SEO link, we invite you to read on this subject our article mentioned at the bottom of the page (What is a good link for SEO?).
Why use no follow links?
When you link to an external site, you must assume these links, i.e. you must not want to hide them from Google and Internet users. The link must always be meaningful: lead to a page with additional information related to
Once that said, you no longer understand the role of a no follow link. Indeed, why make a link to a site and mention to Google that this link is not to follow, that it is not interesting?
There are several reasons why sites put links in “nofollow”:
- To avoid abuse and spam-type links: links placed in blog or forum comments have often been used as spam; everyone takes the opportunity to win a backlink to their site or to set a bad link (which would penalize the blog or forum).
- Faced with this mass of links, sometimes spammy, some sites have therefore chosen not to “grant” any follow links from a forum.
- To “be in the rules”: Google, while indicating that it is against purchased links, specifies that if this is the case then the sponsored link must be placed in nofollow. An astonishing instruction, you might say? Indeed, the link can be followed by Internet users (it is a classic clickable link) but it will not be taken into account for SEO; which is a highlight for a link purchased….
- To prevent the robot from exploring pages of no interest: this may be the case for your “contact”, “connect” pages. This saves the robot from unnecessary work so that it can focus on your interesting pages.
To conclude: should you use nofollow links?
If you have a lot of no follow links on your site, it is clear that it is not a quality message you are sending to Google. We come back to the same question as before: why make links that you do not assume? Instead, we advise you to remain consistent in your link policies and to make only the most ethical links possible.