Links are what brings the internet together. Search engines like them, and for those who are SEO (search engine optimization) minded, that’s important information. Even if you have no interest in SEO whatsoever, though, links may be relevant.
A commonly used term to describe the benefit of links is link juice. You may not care how much link juice you have coming in from other people’s sites linking to your own, but you might be interested in the amount of link juice that you happen to be giving out by creating links to other sites on your blog.
One way of controlling the link juice you give out is to have dofollow links (which give a big shot of link juice) and nofollow links (which just give a small shot). I don’t know enough to know exactly how big an impact this has, but why let sketchy people get any benefit from you.
Creating a nofollow link
We’ll get to why you might want to sometimes use nofollow links in just a sec, but let’s quickly look at how you make a link nofollow.
Links you create in your blog posts are automatically dofollow, but you can easily change them to nofollow. In the block editor, click the link icon for a text block you’ve created. You’ll get the little pop-up shown below where you can enter your link. There are three toggle buttons, and you can toggle the second one to make the link nofollow.
Why you might want to use nofollow links
You might remember a year or two when the site Tygpress was scraping content from a whole bunch of WordPress blogs. But every time people were including the Tygpress link in their post, that gave Tygpress a nice dofollow shot of link juice. Nofollow links are a way to make it clear to readers what you’re talking about without giving the site the benefit of a dofollow.
When I’m doing pseudoscience posts and am getting info from pseudosciency posts, I don’t have any desire to give them the larger shot of link juice that comes from a dofollow link.
Another alternative is to just not create a link at all, and just include the URL in plain text. Plain text links (as in https://mentalhealthathome.org/) do still get noticed, and one of the SEO tools I use picks them up, so sometimes, just to be extra sure I’m not giving any link juice to a sketchy site, I’ll write it out using (dot) and that kind of thing.
As a side note, I always use (at) and (dot) when I’m writing my email address out anywhere on my site. I don’t know how effective that might actually be at preventing it from being picked up by bots scooping up email addresses, but I do it anyway in case there’s even a minor benefit, because there are a lot of bots cruising by.
How people might be using you for backlinks
Caz of Mental Health 360º recently wrote about being scammed by an SEO blogger calling themselves Debby. This person was fairly active for a while on WordPress, and did a lot of blog awards. This was likely in part a link-building strategy to get the link juice flowing in.
Any links left in the comments of someone’s blog post are automatically marked as nofollow by WordPress. If the person drops a link in your comments (either by commenting or by pingback) to let you know they’ve nominated you, they’ve got one nofollow link. Then if you do the blog award and link back to them, there’s a dofollow link. If someone you nominate links back to the original person as well, well, there’s another dofollow.
When you get spam comments that don’t get caught in the spam filter, if there’s a site associated with that comment, that creates a nofollow link for them. No one is getting any massive benefit from getting a nofollow link from your site, but even if there’s a tiny smidgen of benefit to sketchy characters, why give it away?
Have you ever noticed people trying to take advantage of you and your blog for linkalicious benefits?