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

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

<a href=”https://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!

Spread the Love
  • 2


  1. 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 Stoll recently posted… How to Use Exclusivity & Scarcity as Marketing Strategies in Direct SalesMy Profile

    1. 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. 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.

    1. Interesting. I do wonder if bots follow their own rules sometimes. Completely agree with you on the reasons for commenting, and thank you for sharing a comment here. :)

  3. Thank you, That is a very clear explanation.

    What would be the advantages of having “No Follow” on comments?
    Sheila Atwood recently posted… Got Twitter? – But Just Don’t Get It?My Profile

    1. It was supposed to discourage blog spam. You can read the 2005 post from Google about it here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/01/preventing-comment-spam.html But with so many other options for dealing with blog spam, I’d rather reward commenters and deal with spammers with akismet, blacklists, and banning. :)

      1. Thanks I will check out Google post.

        Now I have a new question…I like the way your replies work on your comments. Is that built into your theme?
        Sheila Atwood recently posted… Got Twitter? – But Just Don’t Get It?My Profile

        1. Yes, it’s built into the Studio Press themes (http://www.studiopress.com/features). You can get the same feature though with a “threaded comments” plugin. :)

          1. Thank you, I got Threaded Comments on my blogs and I love it.
            Sheila Atwood recently posted… Making Money On The Internet – Get Paid To Take PicturesMy Profile

  4. 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.
    Paul Simister recently posted… Clarify The Offer – Handle ObjectionsMy Profile

    1. 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.

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

    1. Thanks, Kevin! I’ll go see what my options are for customizing that text in the WP Greet Box. :) It’d make a little more sense to say “stumbled” in that spot. :)

  6. 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!

  7. 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.
    George Arthur Burks recently posted… WordPress Membership Websites – 5 Great Ideas For Making Money OnlineMy Profile

    1. 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!

  8. wow…I’ve never even paid attention to “no follow”! Thanks for the post! I just always leave comments if I like what the post was about or have input.
    michelle bank recently posted… Jewel more weekly deals!My Profile

    1. As a reader, I do as well. As a blogger though I want to give my readers that extra link weight. :)

  9. […] thanks to the wonderful Michelle Shaeffer at http://www.michelleshaeffer.com and her blog post entitled Understanding “Do Follow” and How To Tell, I now […]

  10. I did it! Thank you. I found you from a link on insignificant at best about this topic. Cool to know. I’ll add the badge to my blog, too.
    Jayne recently posted… ABCs of MeMy Profile

  11. 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.
    OneMommy recently posted… Summer Memories – Thankful ThursdayMy Profile

  12. […] Want to know how to go about doing it yourself?  Or, want some better, more techie info. about “Do Follow” blogs?  Check out this site. […]

  13. 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
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing
    Judy Stone-Goldman recently posted… Giving Something I Didn’t Know I Had: A Story of Cutting HairMy Profile

  14. Along time ago I wrote a post linking back to this one, because of the awesome information. Now I’m hearing Google is going to penalize us for “do follow”? Do you know if this is true? Here is a link for reference: http://eddiegear.com/blog/google-dofollow-penalty-to-hit-you-soon/. Any insight you can give would be appreciated!
    lisa recently posted… Friday Funny Business (The Funny Commercials Edition)My Profile

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge