How Important Are Nofollow Links Really to your Linkbuilding Campaign?

17 October 2014
Verena Uebner By: Verena Uebner

Any SEO who’s worked on a link building campaign for a client certainly has experienced the following at some point:

You found this awesome site and you secured a partnership with the blogger who agreed to publish your content including a link back to your client’s website. YEEESSSS!!! You are checking your emails about a hundred times a day to see if the link has gone live yet. And then finally the moment arrives when the content has been published! Eagerly you are checking the tag on the link (Surely it’s dofollow but just to make sure!) and that’s the moment when your whole world is being destroyed, the tag says…. rel=nofollow….

A horror-scenario that we SEOs don’t even wish on our worst enemy. Or is it…? Couldn’t there actually be value in a nofollow link and help our client’s website in a different way than purely for the sake of rankings?!

Well, I dug deeper and found some interesting insights.

Do more nofollow links lead to higher rankings?

The annual ranking report by Searchmetrics shows some interesting statistics on the development of nofollow links in companies’ backlink profile:

Searchmetrics - Ranking Report 2014

Source: Searchmetrics

The graph shows that the higher ranking websites in Google have a higher percentage of nofollow links in their link profile. And this trend seems to grow year-on-year. The question now is whether this is correlation or causation.

Personally, I think that it might be a bit of both as the popularity of a brand can have an influence on the creation of more nofollow links than a relatively unknown brand. People are more likely to share content of a brand that they are aware of which then leads to more links (dofollow and nofollow). On the other hand, the curve is quite steady and it seems that there is a direct correlation between the position and the percentage of nofollow links. This might suggest that a healthy and balanced backlink profile at the same time improves rankings over time.

Links build awareness

Links placed on an authoritative website – no matter if dofollow or nofollow – can still raise awareness for a brand. Look at the following example:

Example how links can build awareness

 Source: Tug

The website highlighted in red drove over 340 visitors to the website which made up over 13% of all referrals to the site. Two-thirds of these referrals were people who visited the client’s website for the first time. Without the link on the blogger’s website which leads to my client’s website the visitors maybe would have never known about my client! To summarise, this link raised the awareness of my client’s brand and grabbed the attention of 342 readers who are all potential customers.

One of the first things I learned in my marketing course at university was to understand the consumer purchase journey: a consumer becomes aware of a product or service. He considers different options and finally makes a purchase which then may lead to repeat purchases and loyalty. In its simplest form it looks something like this:

The Consumer Purchase Journey


Source: b2bstories

We all know that consumers get more sophisticated and demanding as more and more options are available to us. Therefore, marketers have adapted this basic model and have added a few more stages to the process.
However, my point was that a potential customer must be aware of a brand first in order to make a purchase.

The link in the previous example has done a decent job. With a nofollow link.

Links lead to profit

A nofollow link can also directly lead to someone spending money on your company’s products or services. If you consistently create awareness and engage with people, those nofollow links may earn you way more than domain authority.

Nicole Kohler from WebpageFX gives a good personal example of how this ideally could look like:

• I became aware of Buffer through someone else’s Twitter link
• I followed Buffer on Twitter
• I engaged with their content
• I tried, subscribed, and ended up forking over $10 a month

Links lead to more links

Have you ever seen a piece of content go viral and wondered: „Hmmm, I wonder whether this was from a dofollow or nofollow link…“??? No? Me neither.

Anything that goes viral – might it be people who post pictures of themselves without make-up, a cat wearing a shark costume and cleaning the kitchen on a Roomba or a picture of several first class celebrities taken at a very prestigious annual film award by its host – will automatically create more links. Some of them dofollow, some of them nofollow. But the bottom line is (again!) that all it takes for the piece of content to go viral is one link – and that link might as well be nofollow.

What is the general opinion on nofollow links?

From reading this post, you might have realised that personally, I feel that nofollow links can be of great value for every link building campaign. But what do other SEOs think?

Barry Schwartz has polled his readers which may give us an idea of what industry professionals think. He asked: “Should Google retire the nofollow attribute?”. Over 300 people answered and the result is as follows:

Poll - Retire the nofollow attribute

Source: Seoroundtable

It seems as if people are split over this topic, however, the majority has expressed not to retire the nofollow attribute. Some people mentioned the very important topic of spamming which is prevented through the use of nofollow links. This adds another reason for the use of nofollow to my list.

Main takeaways

• Every website should have a healthy and as natural as possible backlink profile, consisting of nofollow, dofollow, branded and non-branded anchor text links.

• Although nofollow links don‘t pass link juice and SEO value, they are still of value if your campaign is focussed on raising brand awareness and driving CTR & conversions. Placed on an authoritative website, a nofollow link can help a brand improve upon those areas.

• One nofollow link can have a massive impact and create loads and loads of dofollow links in turn.

• Today’s search engines, including Google, are seeking more than just PageRank: they want to see backlinks from social media, blogs, reviews, Facebook and more. This is what boosts rankings today – not just some form of linking points.     Branding is important, and the linking strategy, both outbound and inbound, can promote a brand big-time.

Nofollow Duck picture


3 Examples of Useful Infographics for Brand Awareness and Link acquisition

10 October 2014
Carlo Pandian By: Carlo Pandian

In the framework of an SEO campaign, content marketing is functional to build brand awareness within the targeted audience and to acquire quality backlinks that are increasing the SEO visibility. According to many speakers at the Content Marketing Show, this field is really difficult considering the amount of content is produced. At Tug, we have learnt three main guidelines in choosing and creating the content:

  • Target a specific audience
  • Provide value to the readers
  • Differentiate from the content that has been already published

Other best practices are:

  • the content must fit in the normal publishers sizes (usually 620px width max)
  • It doesn’t have to be too promotional
  • logo and sources should be included at the bottom of the infographics

We have also learnt that content requires outreach or paid promotion like Taboola to be discovered and published on online magazines, blogs and relevant sites.

Let’s review some of the infographics we stumbled across the web and consider strengths and weakness:

How to Protect Your iPhone Data From Hackers

The infographic is produced by Atech Support and provides guidelines on iPhone privacy settings. It’s really useful and released in the right timing where the press is talking extensively about data companies selling user information and the brand new iPhone 6. However, the copy contains Atech Support promotions that are preventing this piece of content to be accepted as editorial piece by bloggers and web editors. In ultimate, brand visibility could have been ensured by placing the logo at the bottom as many other firms are doing with great results on press coverage.  Continue reading here…

The Skinny: Events + Social.

2 October 2014
By: Gloria Janek

There were heaps of great talks during last week’s Social Media Week but one that really resonated with me was a talk about ‘marrying social with events’ which was hosted by Eventbrite UK.

The powerful impact of a live event one physically attends, in combination with the far reaching tentacles of social media is a glorious union indeed. The trick is fully utilising social for the greatest impact in order to boost your brand and build long lasting relationships with fans.

The plan of attack can be broken down into three stages: Before, during and after the event.

Before: First and foremost, let’s talk about social platforms. Social shares result in ticket sales, making Twitter the most powerful platform by far. Taking from Eventbrite’s research, every social share on Twitter generated £6.13 to an event on average, followed by Facebook which generated £3 and LinkedIn with 34p. Titillate the masses with photos from last year’s event, lead them on with teasers of what’s to come, and most importantly have meaningful dialog.

During: The noise has been made and the tickets have been sold. The event has arrived and the need to be ‘on it’ socially is critical. Overall it’s important to remember that your audience has an audience; the making of shareable creative content is key. Giving the chance to your fans to transform the event into an experience is what’s going to make them eager to reach for their phones. Presenting a photo opportunity or an interactive experience is a good example of this and will allow the measuring of ROI off the back of it. The choosing of one hashtag and promoting it will avoid confusion. Big event? ‘Silo’ the content themes and create dedicated hashtags for each theme. Be sure to mention where all the content can be found so fans can go back to it after the event and interact with it.

Social monitoring should take priority during the event. Listening and reacting in real time shows the human side of it all. The beauty of social is having the fans participate and collaboratively build the brand up rather than them sitting on the sidelines, watching it pass by.

After: Though the event has finished, it doesn’t mean the fun is over. There’s a small window of opportunity to go out with content that resonates with people who didn’t go. Present the content in a way where they think “Oh fiddle sticks, I wish I had gone to that event.” Recreate the event through content for those who had gone. It’s important to tailor content to keep the momentum going. As you’ve got enough content to get you through ‘the winter’, drip feeding it rather than bombarding the audience keeps them coming back for more. Behind the scenes, analyze data to see what worked and what didn’t work. Measure the effects of used technology and react accordingly for the next event.

In a nutshell, know your audience before the event and cater to them. Measure, learn and repeat.

Top Takeaways from Brighton SEO

1 October 2014
Mark Pitt By: Mark Pitt


1. From Search to Personalisation – Predictions for the future of search are that Google aims to move away from a search based engine and towards personalisation. This means that Google will aim to display the appropriate information to a specific user at the appropriate time. Google is building up a vault of data to be able to do this. Google aims to know you better than yourself!

2. The borders of SEO have become far greater and for a company to truly excel their SEO team must be integrated across all departments. Even when using an agency, friendly partnerships across PR, Social and Branding teams are essential to ensure there is a coherent message being voiced to your consumers.

3. Understanding Demographics – For content to strike a chord with users it needs to voice what consumers want to hear. Use Analytics, surveys and a range of tools to understand your customer in more detail to understand what they find interesting on the web.

4. Content curation is a great method for quickly creating content from existing information. A good way to find content for curation is to search Quora, Reddit and Tumblr and set up relevant RSS feeds. Buzzsumo can give email updates on the most shared content in your market. Examples of content curation:,

5. When outreaching in multiple counties for international SEO, a region’s beliefs can influence how a piece of content is received, so should be taken into account. Create different propositions for different markets. If you don’t translate a piece of content it can easily be stolen. It’s OK to do outreach in English to foreign media.

6. SEO Post Hummingbird – Hummingbird is getting better over time and learning from user’s behaviour. Checklist SEO is dead and Google is much smarter than just reading keywords, so pages should be built around topics rather than just landing pages for one keyword. From 2013 to 2014, site speed is one of the most significant changes within Google ranking factors.


25 September 2014
Simon Jenkins By: Simon Jenkins

As expected from Twitter, I arrive at a rather stunning hotel tucked away in the backstreets of Piccadilly. You can usually spot a Social Media event by the guy on his iPhone8 stood outside the venue wearing Google Glass, some skinny jeans and sporting an enviable moustache. Welcome to #TwitterWorks.

Continue reading here…

The Importance of creativity within Social Media, as proved by LEGO

24 September 2014
Zoe Harrison By: Zoe Harrison



Last night I attended a talk from Lego’s Social Media global director Lars Silberbauer. LEGO’s social media pages are both famously successful and highly creative thus proving why creativity is so important when talking to the consumer through social media.

The foundation of LEGO’s success is their aim to ‘build’ relationships with their audience rather than use social media as a simple platform to sell their product.

LEGO bases all campaigns on two fundamental pillars which, at a base level, are inspired by the customer’s themselves:

#1 Build together. This pillar emulates the theory of collaboration perfectly, a concept that has gone hand in hand with creativity for hundreds of years. To collaborate is to open up the potential for new ideas.

#2 Pride of creation. A product of Creativity is the desire to share one’s work and take ownership of it. Social Media, at its core, satisfies the creative human’s need to share in an accessible and rewarding way.

LEGO have strived to encourage and reward consumers’ creativity with imaginative campaigns such as their Facebook ideas app. Followers were asked to pitch their ideas with the opportunity for their designs to be produced and sold in stores. This hands the power over the followers, building their loyalty, making them feel valued and proud to be a part of the brand.

Compared to above the line campaigns, social media is still a pretty fresh concept. Brands are less inclined to put large portions of budget behind a social media campaign. It could be argued, in this case, to create a successful and engaging social media campaign one would have to rely more heavily on pure imagination. Lars stated: “Don’t invest money… invest yourself!” According to him, it’s apparent when thought has gone into a campaign compared to when shortcuts have been made; an audience recognises this and will respond more positively to a well thought out concept.

LEGO put this theory to the test wither their $100 campaign. They created a character called ‘George’, asking followers to build and snap him in front of famous landmarks all around the world. This not only provided LEGO with amazing, shareable content but encouraged people to engage with the brand and be creative.


LEGO is lucky in the sense that the product, by nature, encourages and thrives on creativity. However, it is LEGO’s job to harness and amplify this creativity through social media so as to reflect their product in a true and positive light.

If less creative brands were to take LEGO’s attitude as an example, the social media landscape would look a lot pretty exciting and be both inspiring and engaging for the consumer.


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