If you have a Google+ Page set up for your business, you’re going to want to pay attention to this post. If you haven’t set up a Google+ Page for your business, head over here and then return to this post to find out how your Google+ Page can benefit your website’s SEO and search rankings.
NoFollow vs. Follow
Before we jump in, let me explain what “NoFollow” and “Follow” mean in terms of SEO (if you’re familiar with these terms, skip ahead). The HTML code you use to link webpages to other webpages is called an anchor tag. It’s shortened in code to only an “<a>” and looks like this when used:
<a href=”http://aristotle.net”>Aristotle’s Website</a>
The “href” is the vital attribute of the anchor tag, and we use it to tell your computer where to go when the link is clicked.
There are other attributes besides “href” that you can use with the <a> tag. The one I want to talk about today is the “rel” tag. We use the “rel” tag to specify the relationship between the page we’re currently on and the URL to which we’re linking. More specifically, we use it to tell Google and other search engines if their search spiders should index the link in search. It looks like this:
<a href=”http://aristotle.net” rel=”nofollow”>Aristotle’s Website</a>
The “rel=nofollow” is used primarily to stop spam on certain websites and is used with online ads such as PPC search and display banners. Adding “rel=nofollow” attributes to online ads is good because without it, businesses with tons of money to spend on online ads would be able to buy up the top spots on Google and ruin the little guy’s chances of being found. No bueno.
By the way, you will see “rel=nofollow” attributes added to almost every link you post on social networks. Whenever you post a link to Facebook or Twitter, for example, your link is automatically attributed with “rel=nofollow.” Again, this is important as Facebook and Twitter’s power in search could give spammers an unfair advantage.
Google+’s NoFollow vs. Follow Links
Now that you have a basic understanding of NoFollow vs. Follow links, let’s talk about how you can use this knowledge to take advantage of Google+. As I mentioned above, Facebook, Twitter and many other social networks automatically add “rel=nofollow” attributes to every link you post. So you get absolutely no “link juice” from those links. The only SEO boost you can get from social networks is the engagement with those links – the more people who click your links and share them, the better. Therefore, posting links and getting no engagement does nothing in terms of SEO.
However, Google+ is an exception, which is no surprise if you think about how important SEO is to Google.
There are two ways to post links on Google+: the caption link or the primary link.
When you create a caption link, Google+ (like every other social network) automatically adds a “rel=nofollow” attribute. So you get no SEO boost from this type of link.
But when you create a post using the primary link, Google+ does not add the “rel=nofollow” attribute. The primary link, therefore, does result in an SEO boost.
The amount of SEO boost depends on the post’s engagement, shares, clicks, etc. just like Facebook and Twitter, but it comes with the added bonus of being crawled by Google’s search spiders, which is awesome.
The NoFollow Experiment
Of course, you’ll want to create posts that get the most engagement, regardless of an SEO boost because, after all, you’re trying to share interesting content with your customers. Sometimes a nice big image is much better than the preview thumbnail Google+ provides when you use primary links.
I suggest doing both. If you want to create a post with a nice big image, or you’re sharing a video, create a post with a photo or video and include the link in the caption. However, I encourage you to create an additional post using a primary link, so you can get the added benefit from the link juice.
Experiment a bit and let me know what kind of results you see in the comments below.