Dofollow Backlinks Explained, With Data Showing Why They Work So Well

Dofollow backlinks are a huge factor to success in SEO and local SEO. But, it’s not a word that most people are aware of unless they’re in the industry.

In this blog post, I’ll try to explain backlinks with a simple analogy.

Then I’ll show you data from my own website that supports a strong case for dofollow backlinks. Finally, I’ll talk about some generally accepted techniques for building dofollow backlinks, that any website owner can check that the SEO company they hired is doing.

Think about backlinks like how you’d hire an employee.

It could be easy for an interviewee to sweet talk you. It can be hard to determine someone’s work ethic based on appearances, so business owners and managers tend to consider other factors.

A big factor can be personal references.

An interviewee with 10 positive industry references is likely the better hire than someone with just one.

But it’s not just the quantity of the references either. Someone with a recommendation from a top industry leader has more credibility than someone with 20 references but from family and friends.

Google needs to decide how to rank content like an owner would need to decide on hiring an employee.

Because there’s many billions of pages per day being submitted to Google’s index, it’s impossible for all of the workers to read every single piece of content. So, they need to rely on other factors, and backlinks are a big one.

What exactly is a backlink?

It’s simply just a hyperlink from one website to another. Like I’m doing here, which links to an explanation about hyperlinks.

When a website links to another website, it is conferring trust. As hyperlinks direct the reader from one website to another, you can think of backlinks as a referral. You know, “hey, my website doesn’t have all of the answers, but here’s a good friend or collegue who can better answer that for you. Here’s their website.”

Now the second part of this, and it can get a little confusing, is the “dofollow” part.

Dofollow Backlinks vs. Nofollow Backlinks

Basically, not all backlinks are created equal.

I’ll try to explain with an example.

So, as you know, anyone can make a Facebook profile. Because it’s a website, you can also create hyperlinks to your website from Facebook. Well, just because any user has linked to their website from Facebook doesn’t mean that Facebook is necessarily endorsing that website. To signal that to Google, Facebook makes those links “nofollow” instead of “dofollow”.

It’s a little computer/ coding jargon, but that’s the gist of it.

As you’ll see below, backlinks are big ranking factors in SEO. But to be more specific, dofollow backlinks hold much more weight than nofollow backlinks, simply because it’s the signal to Google and other search engines that the webmasters trust and refer the website they’re linking to.

How I Know that dofollow Backlinks Are Valuable

I have an information products business that has been life-changing for me. In this business, I have a website that uses SEO to attract leads, which get converted to revenue. While I did try some online paid ads with this website, the overwhelming majority of this revenue has come from organic traffic from search engines.

To get great results with search traffic, I’ve written a lot of blog posts to see what works and what doesn’t. Of course every industry is going to be different, but the SEO metrics remain the same.

As I went through my analytics, I started to notice a trend.

It seemed like the pages where I received the most traffic from Google also tended to have more dofollow backlinks. Let me show you what I mean.

Here’s a list of the top 5 pages on the website for my information products business, sorted by the most traffic at the top:

Here’s the (dofollow) backlink profile for page #1 (click to view):

Here’s the (dofollow) backlink profile for page #2 (click to view):

Here’s the (dofollow) backlink profile for page #3 (click to view):

If those numbers don’t seem like a lot, understand this… most of the blog posts on my website (and across the entire web) have 0 backlinks. It’s rare for a page to rank high in Google search without getting backlinks.

Now, we shouldn’t confuse causation with correlation.

It would make sense right? A post that is on the front page of Google has a better chance of getting linked to because it is getting more eyeballs, and is it the chicken or the egg?

We’ll probably never get a straight answer, especially with the search algorithms changing all the time.

The General Consensus…

But the general consensus on dofollow backlinks is that YES.

They do lead to higher rankings.

The research from the SEO tool companies themselves point to the same conclusion that more dofollow backlinks is correlated with higher rankings. One thing that is pretty clear…

Whether backlinks lead to higher rankings or not on any given post, they do lead to higher rankings across an entire domain (website).

Here’s why backlink building is critical for any SEO strategy.

Especially for the entire domain, rather than just a post-to-post focus…

I think a good way to think about it is to relate it to a tree (my favorite source of imagery). Think of each blog post as a branch on a tree, and the total credibility of the website (or its dofollow backlink profile) as the trunk.

It goes without saying that a larger trunk will lead to longer and thicker branches. So if we were to decide how to build up a tree to produce the most shade, we could throw up as many branches as we could…

Or, we could focus on building the trunk, and building a few strong branches.

A bunch of weak branches probably won’t do much and won’t stand up against a strong wind (all of your online competition around you, or all of Google’s algorithm changes).

The way you build up strong branches is by targeting searches that aren’t overly competitive through keyword research (another topic for another day).

And the way to maximize that effectiveness is by using what I call the two-pronged strategy.

The Camphora Two-Pronged SEO Strategy

Without getting too far down the rabbit hole, the two-pronged Camphora organic SEO strategy is composed of two parts:

  1. Profitable keywords
  2. Site building keywords

The profitable keywords are the ones that will bring the most revenue to your business. Because they are valuable (and often expensive when targeting with Google ads), they are also the most competitive in your industry, and naturally the hardest to rank.

An SEO strategy entirely focused on profitable keywords is like building a lot of weak branches without building up the trunk with strong branches.

The “site building keywords” is where the building up the trunk comes in.

Because competitors aren’t thinking this way, you can show your expertise and fill a need in the market. Even if it doesn’t directly lead to revenue and profit, it builds up the trunk—because it’s easier to build a strong branch when the online competition is low, and it’s that strong branch that can attract dofollow backlinks, which builds up the backlink profile of the entire website (the trunk of the tree).

Now future ranking efforts become easier and easier, and it’s how many of the top websites in various industries make their way up the ranks of Google.

Going back to my example in my information products business, you’ll notice none of those blog posts rank for the most profitable keywords in the highly competitive finance industry—keywords like “investing newsletter” and “stock valuation tool”.

But because I have a strong email marketing system in place to capture the leads from my site building keywords, many of those leads get exposed to my products and eventually buy.

In an industry that’s less competitive and doesn’t have massive players like Forbes or Investopedia trying to grab your searches, it’ll be much easier to rank for a keyword that directly leads to immediate revenue—especially those valuable local searches.

Build the trunk, and have an evergreen source of leads for years that keeps you one step above the competition.

How to Evaluate a Backlink Building Strategy

As a business or website owner, you might want to try to build backlinks on your own, and I commend you for that. But it’s a ton of work and can be very time consuming.

Most business owners are probably better served hiring for this, and an SEO company should provide this as a basic service.

So, you should see dofollow backlink building as billable time on an invoice.

But hopefully there’s a plan that makes those efforts more efficient. I won’t spill the beans here (proprietary information), but there is certain types of content that naturally attract more backlinks and are easier “asks” to other websites. And a specific focus on site building keywords should naturally make the process easier too, those keywords tend to be easier asks as well.

There should never be an entire focus on site building keywords for the local small business, as that means your SEO efforts likely won’t drive much revenue.

But by building site building content alongside your profitable keywords, those rankings across your entire website will rise as your website’s backlink profile builds.

And like a rising tide lifts all boats…

…a stronger and more credible website will raise all rankings and make every piece of content more likely to rank.