Dofollow Backlinks: What They Are and How to Get Them

And Why They’re the Cornerstone of Off-page SEO
Published on 
March 2, 2024
Updated on 
March 2, 2024

If you’re here reading this article, then chances are you are probably not all that familiar with dofollow backlinks and how they work. 

What you likely do know is that backlinks are important. You need dofollow links to your site’s most important pages in order for them to rank highly and enjoy good organic traffic. If that’s the case, then you’re already halfway there. 

We believe that backlinks are so important that we named our link building agency after them. A dofollow link is, perhaps more than anything else in the world of SEO, synonymous with search  engine success. 

Those pages with more and better quality backlinks send more trust and authority signals to Google, which ranks them higher up the search engine results page, meaning more organic traffic and, provided your on-page SEO and UX is done properly, more conversions and revenue. 

In short, dofollow backlinks mean nothing short of a more successful online business. 

In the below guide, we’re going to much more thoroughly explore dofollow backlinks, as well as the difference between dofollow and nofollow links, and concepts like link juice. Following that, you should leave with a fairly sophisticated understanding of dofollow backlinks and the role they play in search engine optimization. 

What is a dofollow backlink?

The easiest way to understand what a dofollow link is and does is to envision it like a vote. 

When other sites link back to your site (or any other site) with a dofollow backlink, what they are essentially telling Google is, “I vouch for the quality and authority of this site.” The logic used by Google and other search engines is that a reputable, serious website is not going to send its own traffic and users somewhere it doesn't trust because that could ultimately lose it traffic and reputation. 

How to identify dofollow links

When you use the web and you are looking at hyperlinks (say you’re reading a blog article), it isn’t always easy to tell whether a link is dofollow or nofollow. 

There are free Chrome extensions like NoFollow that identify all nofollow links on a page by placing a conspicuous dotted red box around them. 

nofollow tool chrome extension page screenshot

This is what a nofollow link looks like when identified by the NoFollow tool.

example of nofollow links highlighted by nofollow tool

See the YouTube link in the above image taken from Reddit? See the dotted red box? The NoFollow extension has identified that link as nofollow. As a general rule, all links on Reddit are nofollowed. 

That means when search engine spiders crawl these links, they know that Reddit is not passing on link equity to the linked website. 

We will get into what it means for a link to be nofollow shortly, but for now, the important thing to understand is that a dofollow backlink is a link with no conditions on it. A website is fully vouching for the target domain to which it is linking. 

Of course, distinguishing between a dofollow and a nofollow links isn’t a matter of whether or not there is a red box around something. If you were to go into the source code of that same page on reddit, the HTML tag immediately following that URL would indicate it was a nofollow backlink with a “rel=nofollow” tag. 

Have a look. 

example of nofollow backlink with a “rel=nofollow” tag

If you go into the source code of any web page on the internet (by pressing ctrl+u) you will be able to see what kind of html code has been applied to each hyperlink on the page. 

Checking your dofollow links

To that end, it’s useful to discuss something important with regards to building links and that is checking your new links. 

If you’re actively building backlinks (and even if you aren’t), we recommend enabling Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a free tool from Google that will send you a notification every time your designated terms are found online. 

Whether it’s the name of your business, or your own name, or both, every time search engine crawlers index a new page containing these terms, Google will send you an email notification. 

When you find out about a new backlink you’ve received, you always want to make sure it is a dofollow link. Sometimes people will link to your content and it won’t be a dofollow link, or they will simply mention your business or brand and not link to you at all. 

In those cases, it can be very much worth your while to reach out to the site or webmaster and ask for a dofollow link. They don’t always say yes (sometimes site editorial policy dictates nofollow backlinks only, or in specific circumstances), but it can land you some really solid backlinks. 

The reason you typically always prefer a dofollow link over a nofollow one (and definitely over a mere mention) is that dofollow links aren’t just symbolic (i.e., they don’t just signify another website trusts your content), they provide what is often referred to in the world of digital marketing and search engine optimization as link equity or link juice. 

Link juice

A dofollow backlink isn’t just proof your content is worthwhile, dofollow links pass link juice (i.e., SEO value) from the referring domain. Big, reputable, high authority backlinks channel more SEO value than smaller ones. 

Below are some of the high authority backlinks we have built for our clients. 

Link juice is what you are after when you’re building dofollow links. The more link juice flowing to a page from high quality backlinks, the higher ranked that page will be by search engines. 

That is link juice in a nutshell. 

Nofollow links

Now the other side of the coin: the nofollow backlink

Before we begin, we’d like to stress that nofollow links are not undesirable. They are less desirable than dofollow backlinks (in most cases), but they are by no means worthless. 

Nofollow links, especially from large, reputable sites that get a lot of traffic, can be a great source of both brand recognition and referral traffic. 

People clicking on a nofollow link arrive at your website and could end up doing business with you. 

What is a nofollow link?

Nofollow backlinks are those which, either by default or because a site owner/web master has decided it should be so, do not pass any link juice on. 

They are essentially telling Google, “I do not vouch for this site or its quality.” 

A referring domain may choose to use a nofollow link when: 

  • They don’t endorse the page being linked to and don’t want to be associated with it (it’s in a niche that Google doesn’t look favorably upon–gambling, cannabis, crypto, pornography). 
  • The link is sponsored or paid for (product placement or advertorial).

As we previously touched on, sometimes nofollow backlinks are part of a website’s editorial policy. There are strict rules and regulations that determine when and even how many nofollow and dofollow backlinks can appear in a piece of content. 

How to build dofollow backlinks

Now that you know what dofollow backlinks are, let’s spend some time exploring how we build them. 

We’re not going to dedicate a ton of time to that here because we have already covered this topic in depth in other articles–like this one on strategic link building and this one on white hat link building

What we are going to discuss are some of the things that you need to have in place in order to create dofollow backlinks that are going to move the needle, increase your organic traffic and increase your conversions. 


In order to build or naturally acquire any backlinks to your website, and especially if you are to build a diversified backlink portfolio (various kinds of links to various kinds of pages on your site), you need to have some solid content in place already. 

This is for the simple reason that you need content for other websites to link to.

The foundation of a successful backlink strategy lies in the creation and maintenance of high-quality content on your own website. Without valuable, informative, or entertaining content, there's little incentive for other websites to link to yours. Content serves as the currency in the world of digital marketing, and it's what attracts attention, establishes authority, and encourages other sites to reference or share your material.

Creating a diverse range of content types, including blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, and interactive elements, not only caters to different audience preferences but also opens up opportunities for varied backlink profiles. Each piece of content provides a potential entry point for external websites seeking valuable resources to link to, reinforcing your site's authority within its niche.

Furthermore, maintaining an up-to-date and relevant content repository ensures that your website remains a valuable resource over time. This longevity is crucial in building sustained relationships with other web entities and encourages them to view your site as a reliable reference point for their audiences.

In the grand scheme of SEO, the saying "content is king" holds true. By investing in compelling and authoritative content, you not only enhance your website's appeal to users but also create a solid foundation for attracting organic backlinks. This, in turn, contributes to improved search engine rankings, increased visibility, and a robust online presence for your brand. 

So, whether you're pursuing link-building efforts or striving to naturally acquire backlinks, the importance of quality content cannot be overstated.

At dofollow, whenever we start talking to a potential client, one of the first things we establish is “do they have enough content for us to build the kinds of high authority backlinks that we pride ourselves on building?”

This is really a yes or no question. 

It is going to be very hard for us to do our job if there isn’t already a solid content library in place from which to choose target pages and reach out to relevant, high quality websites. 

A relationship building approach to link building

In a digital landscape saturated with incessant and low-effort outreach tactics, adopting a relationship-building approach to link building emerges as a strategic differentiator. The relentless barrage of generic outreach emails and automated link-building schemes has desensitized webmasters and online communities, making it increasingly challenging to cut through the noise and establish meaningful connections.

Building high-quality and relevant backlinks has become paramount in the ever-evolving realm of SEO. Search engines, especially Google, prioritize quality over quantity when assessing the value of backlinks. A link from a reputable and contextually relevant source carries more weight than numerous links from dubious or unrelated websites.

This shift in search engine algorithms underscores the significance of a relationship-focused link-building strategy.

By fostering genuine relationships within your industry or niche, you not only increase the likelihood of obtaining high-quality backlinks but also position yourself as a respected authority. Meaningful connections can result in organic, voluntary link placements, as other webmasters are more inclined to link to your content when they recognize the value it brings to their audience.

Moreover, the relationship-building approach contributes to the long-term sustainability of your link profile. Genuine connections withstand the test of time and algorithmic changes, providing a stable foundation for your website's authority and relevance. It's a strategic investment that pays dividends in terms of improved search rankings, increased referral traffic, and enhanced brand credibility.

In a world where quick fixes and shortcuts often fall short of yielding substantial results, the relationship-building approach stands out as a nuanced and effective strategy. It not only aligns with the evolving expectations of search engines but also reflects a commitment to building a strong online presence based on authenticity, trust, and mutual benefit. 

The numbers game that a lot of link builders still exclusively rely on to build backlinks has already lost a tremendous amount of traction, and we think it will only continue to do so. 

Sending traffic to other websites

The majority of this article has been dedicated to the link building side of dofollow backlinks, which is to say, what you need to know about incoming links and why you need to build dofollow backlinks to your own website. 

A well-thought-out external linking policy is a critical component of a successful website strategy, contributing significantly to its overall performance and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. External links, both inbound and outbound, play a crucial role in establishing your website's authority, credibility, and relevance in the eyes of search engines like Google. When implemented strategically, a robust external linking policy can enhance your site's visibility, user experience, and, ultimately, its organic search rankings.

Choosing whom to provide dofollow backlinks to is a decision that should be approached with care and consideration. As we discussed, dofollow backlinks pass link equity from one site to another, influencing the receiving site's authority and search engine ranking. 

Not only do you want to consider whose profile and reputation you are boosting with your external links, but It's paramount to link to reputable and authoritative sources that align with your content and industry. Associating your website with high-quality, relevant sources strengthens your own credibility and can positively impact your search engine rankings.

Conversely, indiscriminate linking to low-quality or spammy sites can have adverse effects on your website's SEO. Search engines may interpret these associations as an attempt to manipulate rankings, potentially resulting in penalties or a decrease in your site's search visibility. Therefore, a discerning approach to providing dofollow backlinks ensures that your website maintains a strong and trustworthy digital footprint.

In essence, a well-crafted external linking policy not only fosters a positive user experience by directing visitors to valuable resources but also contributes to the overall health and authority of your website within the competitive landscape of the online world. Strategic external linking is a powerful tool in the SEO arsenal, and choosing your backlink partners wisely is key to harnessing its full potential.

Wrapping up

Acquiring dofollow backlinks takes time, energy, know-how and usually some capital. 

Because it is so labor and opportunity-cost-intensive, it is something that you want to make sure you are doing right. You can easily sink a lot of time and money into link building and find that not only has it not moved the needle when it comes to ranking and traffic, but it has actually hurt your traffic. 

We see unfortunate cases in many of the SEO and link building groups on social media on a regular basis. 

Reach out to dofollow today, and let’s chat more about how our completely transparent, contract-free, user-centric approach to link building can help turn your website into an organic lead-generating machine.

Why Trust Us On SEO

Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.

Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.

While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.

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