Nofollow Links

“Nofollow Links” are a type of link on a website that tells search engines not to count the link as an endorsement or vote of confidence. Imagine telling a friend a fact but also saying “don’t quote me on that.” This is what a nofollow link does; it shares information without passing along the site’s own reputation or influence.

These types of links are used when a site doesn’t want to imply any endorsement of the site they’re linking to, such as in the case of paid links or user-generated content like comments. While nofollow links don’t directly help with a site’s SEO ranking, they can still bring traffic to a site and can be a part of a natural link profile, which is a good SEO practice.

Understanding the Role of Nofollow Links

Nofollow links are the digital equivalent of a word-of-mouth recommendation with a disclaimer. They tell search engines: “Here’s a link, but I’m not vouching for it.” Introduced by Google in 2005, the nofollow attribute (rel=”nofollow”) can be added to HTML code of a hyperlink to indicate that a search engine should not consider the link as a factor in its ranking algorithms.

Originally, nofollow links were created to combat spam and manage the quality of links embedded in user-generated content. Over time, their role has evolved. Google has announced changes to the way they treat nofollow links for ranking purposes, starting to consider them as “hints” since March 2020, which indicates a shift in their importance in SEO strategies.

The Importance of Nofollow Links to Google

Balancing the Link Ecosystem

Google’s algorithms are designed to map the web’s vast ecosystem, identifying which links are trustworthy and valuable. Nofollow links help maintain this balance by allowing webmasters to link to content without influencing the ranking system, keeping the web’s link graph honest and unbiased.

Upholding Quality and Relevance

By marking certain links as nofollow, websites signal to Google and other search engines that they do not want to pass on their site’s authority or that they simply cannot vouch for the linked content. This helps maintain the quality and relevance of search results, ensuring that users find what they are truly looking for.

Best Practices for SEO with Nofollow Links

Incorporating nofollow links into your SEO strategy requires understanding their best use cases:

  • Use Nofollow for Paid Links: Any links that are part of advertisements or sponsorships should be nofollow to comply with Google’s guidelines.
  • Apply Nofollow to User-Generated Content: This includes links in comments and forum posts where you can’t necessarily guarantee the quality of the linked content.
  • Balance Your Link Profile: A natural backlink profile includes both follow and nofollow links.
  • Leverage for Traffic, Not Just SEO: Nofollow links can still drive traffic to your site, which is valuable even if it doesn’t directly affect your ranking.
  • Implement on Low-Quality External Links: If you’re linking to a site that you do not fully trust, using nofollow is a safe practice.
  • Stay Updated on Policy Changes: Search engine guidelines are evolving, and what’s true today may change tomorrow.
  • Use Strategically in Content: Nofollow links can be used strategically within content where linking is necessary but not necessarily an endorsement.
  • Monitor Link Activities: Regularly audit your site’s links to make sure you’re using nofollow appropriately.

Embracing the Subtlety of Nofollow Links

Nofollow links might not contribute directly to search engine rankings, but they play a crucial role in the broader landscape of SEO. They are an essential tool for webmasters to use in sculpting the link graph of the internet and ensuring the credibility of their sites. By following best practices for the application of nofollow links, you can maintain the integrity of your site while providing valuable content to your audience.

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