No aspect of the Internet is more critical to understand than hyperlinks or simply links, as we call them. After all, what is the World Wide Web but countless documents which are interconnected by links?
A web page without links in to it can never be discovered by search engines, nor will people find the page unless directed to it. A page without links out of it is a virtual cul de sac, a dead end street from which visitors must back out in order to exit.
Woe to the web page that has neither inbound nor outbound links!
Links Can Transfer Some of Their Authority
When a web page, especially an important one, links to your page, it serves as a recommendation and conveys, i.e. transfers, to your web page some amount of its authority both with search engines and with Internet users. The authority of your page increases, while the authority of the page linking in to you decreases.
When you link to others’ pages you transfer authority to their pages. Their authority of their pages increases, while the authority of yours decreases.
Links play an key role in search engine optimization. They help search engines to gauge the validity and the authority of each page or document on the web.
Why Relinquish Your Authority?
Why should you give away any of the authority that you’ve worked so hard to earn?
Authority isn’t all that matters. Relevance matters. Participation in the web and in your niche’s online community matter too. Generous use of outbound links enhances your pages in ways that both search engines and people can easily appreciate.
The Internet and search engines are mainly research tools, and outbound links help researchers to find and to verify the information they seek.
Linking Without Transferring Authority
There are two cases in which you need to link out but prefer not to give up any of your authority and don’t even want the search engines to follow your link to see where it leads.
When linking to something you’re advertising, it’s common practice to have search engines ignore your link. Why convey authority upon an ad?
There is another case which I discuss in the next section.
To request that a link be ignored by search engines, rel=nofollow is used in the HTML code. (Don’t worry if HTML is too technical for you.) Therefore this type of link is commonly referred to in SEO jargon as a nofollow link. A normal link is referred to as a dofollow link.
Comments on Blogs and Forums
Blogs and forums need comments to thrive. They help to build community and add valuable content which search engines like.
Comment often require links to be meaningful or to identify the commenter. Comments which are completely devoid of links have a sterile quality, so some degree of linking is necessary and desirable.
Unfortunately, links create an opportunity for SPAM.
As I explain in Anti-Social Media Marketing, spammers submit stupid or even obscene comments hoping to build inbound links to their sites.
Why transfer even one iota of your authority to a spammer?
Filtering out these comments is a pain, especially when they’re written to look plausible. For this reason, blogs and forums are programmed to use nofollow links in comments as a disincentive for spammers.
Dofollow Blogs and Forums
Just as nofollow is a disincentive for spammers, it’s a disincentive for real blog commenters and forum posters as well. I know that I prefer (and I’m not alone in my preference) to visit dofollow blogs and get a dofollow link back to my blog when I comment.
Many blogs and forums deal with potential SPAM without resorting to the use of nofollow links. Quite a few forums and some blogs subject their un-vetted commenters to moderation and other restrictions.
How I Make Dofollow Work for Me
- I use the Askimet plugin to pre-screen comments for SPAM.
- I moderate all comments and screen them for SPAM, (as well as inappropriate content, bad spelling and very bad grammar).
- I reject SPAM and undesirable comments. (I also correct spelling and grammar when necessary.)
- I use the Nofollow Case by Case plugin to override the Wordpress nofollow default.
- If a comment is borderline SPAM, I let the comment through, but I tell Nofollow Case by Case to make its links nofollow.
- If I want particular links in the body of a comment to be nofollow, I edit the HTML and insert rel=nofollow in the code.
- I let regular commenters (whom I like) get away completely with borderline SPAM (with or without a lecture), because I care a lot about their friendship and good will.
- I display a You Comment I Follow banner at the bottom of each post to let readers know that my blog is dofollow. Over time my blog has been added to a number of dofollow search engines.
Linking and Dofollow Takeaways
Linking is vital to the Internet. All websites ought to use ample links on their pages, just as I have in this article.
If you blog, consider a dofollow approach. Don’t be afraid to relinquish some of your authority to commenters, because in balance, you can expect to gain.
Now please, leave a great comment below and collect your dofollow link back to your blog or website.
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