Understanding “Do Follow” and How to Tell

After my recent post on rewarding your blog commenters I got several questions asking what “do follow” meant and how to tell if a blog has “no follow” or “do follow” on it’s comments.

What is “No Follow”

By default most blogs are setup so that the links to a commenter’s website are marked “nofollow” – that means that the search engines won’t follow the link and won’t count it towards the linked site’s PageRank or popularity.

Here’s what a no follow link looks like:

<a href=”http://www.michelleshaeffer.com” rel=”nofollow”>Michelle Shaeffer</a>

And here’s what a “do follow” link looks like:

<a href=”http://www.michelleshaeffer.com”>Michelle Shaeffer</a>

See the difference?  It’s that little bit of code: rel=”nofollow”  That’s what tells search engines to basically ignore the link.

How to Make Your Blog “Do Follow”

If you haven’t taken actions to make your blog “do follow” then it probably isn’t.  Most are “no follow” by default.  How to change this depends on which blogging platform you use.

How to Tell if a Blog is “Do Follow” or “No Follow”

I want to note that I rarely check for this when I’m leaving blog comments.  The benefits of commenting on a blog go beyond just a link from somewhere else to your site for the search engines.  That’s a nice benefit, of course, but it’s not the only one.  When you comment on a blog you’re building visibility and getting to know the blogger and their community.  You’ll get traffic from other readers back to your site, too, if your comment is relevant and adds value to the conversation.  So don’t base your commenting only on whether a blog has “do follow” setup.  If you want to comment on a blog, comment!  :)

But there’s no denying the benefits of “do follow” so if you want to know, here are two of the ways to find out.

First, you can look for a “do follow” button or badge.  Some bloggers will add these in their side bar or note somewhere that they are a “do follow” blog.

Cool buttons you can keep your eyes open for (or add to your own blog):

The other way to check is a little technical.  You can view the page’s source code.  Here’s the step by step:

  1. Scroll to the comments area of a post on a blog you want to check.
  2. Look for a commenters name and note it.
  3. Now go to “View” then “Page Source” on your browser’s menu.  (This might vary a little depending on the browser you’re using.)
  4. You’ll see a page full of code.  Do a search for the commenters name that you noted in step 2.
  5. When you find it you’ll see something like this:
    <a href=”http://www.coachjanelee.com” rel=”external” class=”url”>Jane</a>

    Or, something like this:

    <a href=”http://www.coachjanelee.com” rel=”external nofollow” class=”url”>Jane</a>
  6. See that “nofollow” in the second example there? That’s what you’re looking for. That tells you the commenter’s link is marked not to be followed.  It’s important to look at a commenter’s link and not just any link in the code because some websites will have the commenter’s links set to dofollow but other links on the page set to nofollow.  So be sure to look for that commenter’s name you noted and not just any random link.

And that’s how to tell for sure!

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Michelle,

    Great tips! I totally agree with you about the commenting anyway even on a no follow especially if you feel compelled to. There are many ways to generate traffic and backlinks and commenting on a blog is one of them.

    Janette

    • says

      Yep, the interaction has so many benefits beyond that link back. :) Thanks for commenting, Janette. Your photo always makes me feel warm and sunny seeing you on that beach.

  2. says

    It’s quite funny that there is so much debate about the DoFollow vs. NoFollow issue…

    I found out long ago – through my Google Alert – that Google DID notice comments I have made on NoFollow blogs, so I don’t worry. Any webmaster can decide to make outgoing links count less, but the decision is nonetheless up to the bot searching the internet anyway.

    And, as you say, there are other benefits from people being curious enough to click your links and read what you have to say to be even more important than the link itself.

    I comment to add value, and to thank writers for their articles – and I would do so regardless of Do- or NoFollow.

  3. says

    The third way to work out if links are do follow or no follow is to use Firefox as your browser and install an add on like Search Status.

    I cover this in my SEO guide to ranking on page one of Google. This add on highlights no follow links in pink and ordinary links without any marketing.

    I think do follows are a great way to rewards people for valuable comments but unfortunately it can attract the spammers.

    I visited an old wordpress blog I haven’t updated for months yesterday and I had over 4300 comments to be approved. I thought I had Askimet enabled but perhaps not.

    I looked at the first 60 and they were all spam comments – either blatant rubbish or bland comments like “good post. I like your blog” when it is very clear someone is just putting anything in to get a link.

    Sad how people spoil it for the others.

    Even on my main Business Coaching Blog which is no follow and has a captcha to stop the spam, 3 out of 4 comments add no value and often carry a keyword in the name.

    Sorry for the rant.

    • says

      It can be very frustrating to deal with that volume of spam. I haven’t found much of a different in spam volume when I’ve got no follow or do follow setup — either way annoying volumes of spams (though not 4300!). I get those too, the spam disguised as nice comments. My blog comment policy though is that if there’s not a name in the name field, it doesn’t get approved.

      Great tip on the Firefox plugin! Thank you for sharing that.

  4. Kevin says

    I stopped reading when the SU pop-up reminded me to give it a “thumbs-up”. Instead, I “stumbled”.

  5. says

    I love blogs that use the do-follow plugin! It really makes a difference in the amount of traffic you receive because everyone likes to get links!

  6. says

    Great information. I just changed my no-follower plugin to follow. You can do follow nofollow by category. Askimet seems to be a good job of catching the spam and I do have to approve the first comment made anyway.

    My comment policy says you have to use your name and your comment has to related to the post you are commenting on. Great post… will not cut it. All I have been getting is spam comments so for and a few retweets.

    I use the NoDoFollow Firefox plugin. It also highlites links as follow or no follow by color.

    • says

      My setup is similar. I approve the first comment, and I’ve got several anti-spam plugins running that catch most of the junk.

      That sounds like an awesome plugin, thanks for the tip!

  7. says

    Thank you for the super helpful information that even a non-techie like myself could understand and follow. I’ve changed my blog to a “Do Follow” blog now, and I’m going to give my readers your link so they can do the same if interested.

  8. says

    Thank you for this clear explanation! I see the DoFollow next to people’s blogs and haven’t really understood it. I really appreciate seeing the code even though I’m not going to be the one going in to do that (I know my techie limits, and I’m happy to pay someone so I don’t have to know code). I like being informed. It makes everything less mysterious.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    http://www.thereflectivewriter.com
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

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