Proof Google Doesn’t Care About NoFollow Links

I have known for a while now that Google doesn’t care too much about the nofollow attribute that’s added to links. I won’t go into statements from Matt Cutts about nofollow links, since he’s currently on vacation and not here to defend himself. But, nonetheless, let’s look at some recent proof that you can rank really well in Google organic search with nofollow links from Twitter.

Let’s take a not-so-recent blog post of mine, right here in this blog, where I wrote about Business Insider’s Top 100 Tech Influencers on Twitter. The post is a topical post, and I refer to it as a list to use to start connecting with tech influencers. It’s a helpful post for many. But that’s not the issue here. What’s the issue here is the statistics for this blog post:

open site explorer post stats

To see the live stats, you can go right to Open Site Explorer and enter the URL of the post. I have personally done no link building for this post. As you can see, the “normal” links are only really from our own site, whereas the links are from the home page and other blog category pages. So, the fact that the post is on our blog isn’t necessarily a reason for the post to rank well in Google organic search.

The majority of the activity is ONLY from Twitter. As of this post, there’s over 30,000 tweets or mentions on Twitter. Those are 100 percent “nofollow” links. As a result of those tweets of the blog post’s URL, the blog post is ranking number one for many related keyword phrases, such as “tech influencers”:

tech influencers

The links to this blog post (all of the Tweets and RTs) are tagged as being “nofollow” links. So, they’re not supposed to “count” when Google analyzes them for organic search engine rankings. Let’s take a look at some sample Tweets of this post. You’ll see below that the links have a dotted line around them. That’s from my Firefox browser add-on, which highlights links that are “nofollow” links.

tweets with nofollow tag

I’ve written before about the marrying of social and search, and even spoken about it at several conferences, such as Pubcon. Social media plays a huge role now in SEO, and if you’re not Tweeting, Plus 1ing, and Liking your new blog posts, then you’re missing out–and not doing proper SEO. SEO is not just about on-site optimization, it’s about getting real human eyeballs to your site. And Google knows that. That’s exactly why that post is ranking well in Google organic search.

So, frankly, there’s proof enough for me that Google doesn’t care much about nofollow links anymore. At least when it comes to Twitter.

Bill Hartzer is Globe Runner’s Senior SEO Strategist. Follow him on Google Plus. You can also follow him on Twitter as @bhartzer.