Backlinks, No Follow and Page Rank

I received a question through my Dear Martin page the other day from someone who was asking how backlinks affected page rank, and how the ‘nofollow’ tag affected backlinks, therefore affecting page rank.

Here’s the response I offered:

The first thing I’d say is don’t get hung up on Page Rank and all that other SEO-type stuff.  You’re focusing on the wrong thing.  

You need to focus on what your visitors want and give it to them. That’s it.

Having said that, the ‘nofollow’ tag on a site does not have any impact on links coming into it. That is – where others are linking to you – backlinks.

Nofollow on your site only affects outgoing links from your site. It tells the Search Engines not to follow any outgoing links.

The blogging community got super hung up over this last year and people started refusing to comment on blogs that had the nofollow tag set. This was because they wouldn’t get credited by Google for links back to their sites from the blog they commented on.

That was an absolutely prime example of focusing on SEO-type stuff instead of giving good value to their visitors.  And in many cases it probably cost them traffic.

The thing to remember is this: the search engines are not the ones that will buy from you.  People are.

So write your blog or site for the benefit of people.

You should definitely set up your site properly – i.e. use the correct META tags, H tags, alt tags, and title tags, provide clear navigation, create a site map and so on. Make sure you get all the on-site SEO stuff sorted out.

But then forget about SEO and write for people. Use places like Twitter, forums, chat boards and wherever else your target market hangs out, to learn what people are asking about.

Then answer those questions on your blog.

The Jaaxy keyword research tool will give you that competitive edge

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Chris O. 19 March, 2009, 3:31 am

    It would seem to me that a “no follow” tag is a bit inclusive and even insulting. Why would anyone go out of their way to keep their readers/commenters from the benefits of participating?

    Spam is spam, but if someone’s genuinely participating, I take a hands off approach.


    Chris O.
    Referral Key
    “Your Trusted Referral Network”

    • WealthyDragon 19 March, 2009, 10:08 am

      Hi Chris,

      Nofollow was introduced by Google a while ago to prevent spam commenters spewing comments across the blogosphere and generating links to their sites, so pushing them up in the rankings.

      The spammers long ago found other ways to do their dirty stuff so the nf tag is less necessary now. It’s still in place, though, and still the default setting in many cases.



  • GoEverywhere Team 19 March, 2009, 11:41 am

    I agree that bloggers need to focus on their readers more than anything. Write great, quality content and give them a reason to keep coming back.

    That, combined with the other tools you mentioned (twitter, forums) are very powerful. I check twitter, facebook, and several forums from my webtop daily to see what my target market is buzzing about. I don’t waste my time on fretting over page rank.

    GoEverywhere Team´s last blog post..What is a webtop?

    • WealthyDragon 19 March, 2009, 12:12 pm

      Hi Go Everywhere,

      I couldn’t have put it better myself 🙂



  • JJ Loch 22 March, 2009, 1:34 pm

    Boy, am I glad I blog for the fun of it and not for a popularity contest.

    What a super post!!!

    Cheers! JJ

    JJ Loch´s last blog post..Icy Footprint Art

    • WealthyDragon 22 March, 2009, 2:11 pm

      LOL – thanks JJ,

      Not sure I do it for a popularity contest 🙂

      But it certainly gets more and more complex as time goes by. Glad you enjoyed the post, though.



  • Corina 4 April, 2009, 7:29 am

    I learned something new from you again today 🙂

  • Steve 2 December, 2009, 11:14 pm

    So If I have a meta tag “within” the section (just below the keywords meta tag)and above the and the meta tag is a Robots INDEX NOFOLLOW, It will not affect any one-way back links I have, Correct? But does that meta tag affect any Reciprocal links? Would the Reciprocal links become Invalid if I use that NOFOLLOW tag.

    • Martin 3 December, 2009, 7:18 am

      Steve, hi,

      The ‘nofollow’ tag will not affect incoming links to your site – that’s correct.

      But it will affect outgoing links – so if the reciprocal links you’re referring to are the links going out from your site back to others then yes – they will be affected.