Of Special Interest...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Backlinks, Dofollow and Nofollow Links, and Search Engine Optimization

A backlink for website (A) is made when (A)'s URL is posted on another website (B).

A better, more valuable backlink for (A) is made on (B) when the content of website (B) is related to the content of (A), rather than when a backlink for (A) is made on website (C), which has content that is unrelated to (A).

I posted the link to the website of a friend's new book, Behind the Lines in Greece (which is about a military unit that operated in Greece during World War II) in two places on Facebook: on my wall and on a World War II group page. The link I posted on the WW II group page is much more valuable than the one I posted on my wall--and also more valuable than the one I just made here by making the title of his book a hyperlink, or backlink, to his website.

Thus, in this example, the book's webpage corresponds to (A), the WW II group on Facebook is a (B) because it has content related to (A), and both my Facebook profile page and this blog's page are (C's) because they have contents unrelated to (A).

An even better backlink for (A) is a dofollow link made on website (B), which has content relevant to (A).

The very best backlinks are a series of dofollow backlinks, where each site is relevant to (A), in this example, webpages (B), (D) and (E):
(A) backlinked on (B),
(B) is backlinked on (D), and
(D) is backlinked on (E).

More elaborate links could be made into a web: (A) backlinked to (D), (B) backlinked to (E), etc. Make one-way backlinks: don't backlink pages to each other, i.e. don't backlink (A) to (B) and (B) to (A).

Let's unpack that.

1. Links (or hyperlinks or backlinks) drive traffic to your website. Someone clicks on a link and is taken to your website.

2. Links may look alike, but they are not all the same: they may be dofollow links or nofollow links; although either could be changed into the other by the webmaster, i.e., a dofollow link may be, after a set period of time, changed to a nofollow link.

3. Dofollow backlinks are helpful: they are noticed by search engines. In other words, making backlinks with dofollow links helps your site receive better rankings --nearer to the beginning of the list-- in search engines' results.

4. Nofollow backlinks are neutral: they bring traffic to your page, but they are not noticed by search engines, so they do not help with search engine optimization.

Why is search engine optimization important?

Traffic arrives at your site from three paths, when someone:
1. uses search engines, chooses your site from the list of results and clicks on your site,
2. clicks a hyperlink (dofollow or nofollow) on a website that links to your site (arrives on your site through a backlink), or
3. types your page's URL in the address bar of his browser.

Most traffic comes through search engine results, and the least comes from those who have typed into their browser's address bar the URL of your site. Because most of your traffic comes from search engines, you want to enhance your website's importance and optimize its position in search engine results (i.e., bring it closer to the beginning of the list of search results). Do this by making valuable dofollow backlinks to relevant sites.

Many people do not look past page one of search engine results, so it is important to get your website near the beginning of the list, on page one, to drive more traffic to your site. More traffic means that more people go to your site, and so the number of views will increase faster. A website presented at the end of the search engine's list will be seen by very few people, and thus will drive very little, if any, traffic to your site.

Let's go back to the example application above, where the book's webpage corresponds to (A), the WW II group on Facebook is a (B), and both my Facebook profile page and this blog's page are (C's).

When I speak of value or importance of a backlink, I mean that search engines give more weight, more importance, to websites that have backlinks from other pages with similar content. The result is that search engines rank website (A), backlinked by (B), higher in search results than if that website (A) were backlinked only by (C), an unrelated page.

Most articles on the web have no backlinks, so any backlink is good (helpful), backlinks from related websites are better, and a series of dofollow backlinks from related websites is the best.

RedGage, SheToldMe, Snipsly, YouSayToo, and this blog on Blogger are a few sites that provide dofollow links; Xomba is one site that has nofollow links.

How do I know if a backlink is a dofollow link rather than a nofollow link? I use SEO Toolbar, which is a browser plug-in for Firefox. Find it here. After installing the toolbar, click on the nofollow link icon and all nofollow links on the webpage are highlighted in red.

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