If you’ve been dabbling with websites and online marketing you may be familiar with the phrase ‘Google juice’.
It’s not a surprise entrant in the soft drinks market. Google juice is, in fact, the common name given to the value afforded to inbound links to your website.
Broadly speaking, when one website links to a page on another website, Google sees the action as a vote of confidence or a ‘thumbs up’ that the destination page can be trusted as a valuable resource.
Providing the origin websites have not taken steps to block the full influence of these signals, the more links a webpage gets, the more likely it is to rank in a better position in Google than a webpage that has fewer links.
Flowing value from one website to another
Google is able to measure the worthiness of any webpage within its index and it does so to help order the results it presents to its users.
It takes into account metrics – some more ambiguous than others – such as the quality of the content on the page; technical attributes, such as the time the page takes to load across devices; and engagement levels (it can tell if users are staying on a webpage and consuming the content or whether they tend to hit the back button soon after arriving).
The specific criteria for absolute Google rank success are only truly known to the search engine’s famous PageRank algorithm, which is responsible for grading all pages on the web, though professionals in this area have a tried-and-tested understanding.
What is known, and confirmed by Google, is that pages with higher PageRank scores will have more influence than those with lower scores. A link to your website from an article on The Telegraph will generate more juice than a link on www.telegraphpoleappreciationsociety.org, for example.
What is a NoFollow link?
‘NoFollow’ is an attribute that can be manually or automatically appended to a link on a webpage. It is a means of telling Google that you are not deliberately trying to influence the rankings of another website, and that it shouldn’t flow PageRank or juice.
The NoFollow link was born in 2005 after an agreement between search engines to join forces and fight link spam. Too many people were manipulating search ranks by dropping links to their websites everywhere, so something needed to be done to control the flow of value.
Some, therefore, are of the opinion that NoFollow links are ‘worthless’, which is rather narrow-sighted.
While they do not automatically pass the holy Google juice mentioned above, they most certainly are valuable and something marketers should strive to obtain.
4 reasons NoFollow links are good for your website
1. They encourage more traffic by creating new gateways to your website
Having links to your website on other pages on the www provides opportunities for more people to discover your business or blog – the attribute attached to the links matters not in the slightest for this purpose.
Bear in mind, too, that links lead to more links. A person may click on a NoFollow link to get to your website in the first instance, but if they enjoy the content or products once they arrive it’s possible that they will go on to give you a nod, via a highly influential inbound link from their own website.
The importance of NoFollow links for this one reason alone has been proven countless times.
2. Google juice can flow from authoritative websites
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is not entirely transparent. Google gives rules and guidelines but won’t necessarily follow them itself. Just because you have suggested that it shouldn’t pay too much attention to a link present on a page, doesn’t mean it won’t.
The search giant itself says: “In general, we don’t follow NoFollow links.”
The clue here is in the word general.
If it can see that a webpage is popular with users and is consistently satisfying queries in search, then it is almost certainly weighing up the the importance of any source materials (aka linked pages) connected to it.
If users are repeatedly clicking on specific links within a popular webpage then it is not unreasonable to assume that Google’s spiders are taking a peep at those pages too.
3. They facilitate an honest, balanced link portfolio
It would be suspicious to Google if there were not a healthy mix of normal (DoFollow) and NoFollow links in your portfolio.
Lots of places on the web automatically append the NoFollow attribute to links, including social media platforms and comment sections on publisher websites. Not doing so would allow people to manipulate the size of their link portfolios for Google rank gain.
A well-balanced portfolio is, at the very least, a way of proving that you’re not creating backlinks purely for the SEO benefits.
“So with that in mind,” says monitorbacklinks.com, “judicious use of the nofollow value can help assure Google that you’re not up to any shenanigans.”
4. They contribute to the long-term development of your website’s authority
There are some metrics discussed in the world of SEO that have no influence on your Google rankings, although they often set out to explain them. Domain and Page Authority Scores are two examples of this.
Developed by SEO industry leaders Moz, the scores predict how well you are likely to rank in search, which is useful for understanding what it takes to succeed in any marketplace in Google.
NoFollow links are often counted – along with the rest of the links in your portfolio – when these metrics are calculated, so having a lot of them improves the scores.
All this matters because many businesses look to these prediction metrics to decide whether or not they want digital dealings with a particular website. If your score impresses then it can lead to new opportunities – and consequently more web traffic.