Link love is what all SEOs share, and not something most of them are proud of accepting. Google started the fad of creating links with its search algorithm that ranks websites on the basis of their backlinks, and ever since then the SEO world has been talking about link building. The love soared to such heights and abuse that Google had to roll out preventive measures in the form of its Penguin update in 2011.
The link love turned obsession was finally put to test. The backlinks were divided into two categories- nofollow and dofollow. It helped Google in deciding which links (dofollow) should be used to calculate a website’s Page Rank and which should be ignored (nofollow). Many SEOs still argue about the relevancy of nofollow links versus dofollow links for a web page’s rankings, and so the debate continues.
As per industry experts, link juice, or the Google Page Rank, is not passed from one web page linking back to another web page. Google differentiates between nofollow and follow backlinks with the help of “rel=nofollow” HTML tag present in the former. Hence, nofollow links have no affect whatsoever on a webpage’s rankings, but they aren’t useless as well. Read more to find out.
All links pointing to your site are crawled and indexed by Google, then their search algorithm calculates if any Page Rank or link juice is to be shared from the referring URL to your site. The Page Rank calculation provides approximate ranking and is then clubbed with hundreds of other factors to finally calculate the ranking of a page on the Google search engine result pages (SERPs).
Other factors apart from the Google Page Rank comprise trust and authority of the refering and target domains, social authority, social signals, on-page, off-page and numerous other site quality and relevancy indicators. It is to be considered that higher the Page Rank of a page, the higher is its visibility and trust with respect to the criteria of Google’s search algorithm. The total number of links both incoming and outgoing are part of the calculation of the Page Rank.
When Google spider crawls and indexes links for a search query, follow links are listed and page rank is calculated. This is the most basic aspect of how Google’s algorithm functions. Similarly, on the other hand when Google’s spider bot finds backlinks with “rel=nofollow” tag, it ignores them so they have no role in the page rank calculation. Hence, high quality high Page Rank dofollow backlinks are what most of the SEOs across the globe are after.
Nofollow links are ignored in a link removal process for getting rid of low quality spammy backlinks. Still there are times when nofollow links could become harmful and work against your years of search engine optimization work. A manual penalty is a possibility as well, if you have unnatural nofollow links that mean web spam.
Hence, I advise to maintain your link profile clean and natural, in order to stay away from Google penalties. Dofollow or nofollow, link building is safe if done organically.