Nofollow Link - Hidden Dragon of SEO

The rel=”nofollow” attribute is one of the simplest tags in HTML, and one that’s essential to understand if you’re living in SEO world. Learn everything you must know about nofollow link in this article.

no follow link

Links are like the bees that travel from one website to another via dofollow links, passing over no follow links. But they can also bring value to your site. Realizing how other websites link to you is a crucial first step in building a healthy backlink profile for any website.

The History of Nofollow Link

In the 2000s, everyone in SEO knew links were part of Google’s algorithm. In an attempt to rank better, users abused links. It was all about quantity. Folks built links in every way possible, including in blog comments. With the intense growing of comment spam, Big G decided to work on a solution.

The result was the nofollow tag, or <rel=”nofollow”>.

The plan was, you could use this attribute to signal to search engines that you don’t want them to count the link when they evaluate your website’s inbound links.

what is a nofollow link

No follow link was initially meant to be used for “anywhere that people can add links by themselves.”

Furthermore, Google wanted you to use it for paid links, and anywhere you had total control over the link. Ultimately, they started penalizing users for having too many links pointing to them that were deemed “unnatural” (directories, link exchanges, press releases, guest posts).

Before search engines, the number only way folks found new sites was by following links. Today, the number one place most people start on the web now is a search engine (although it’s rapidly being overtaken by apps and social networks), Google feels perfect with dictating how we should link to each other.

They suggest that interactions should be natural; websites that deliver high-quality traffic and experience can link to anyone any way they want.

What is a No Follow Link?

No-follow link is a hyperlink that doesn’t count as a point in the page’s favor, doesn’t boost PageRank, and doesn’t affect a page’s placement in the SERPs.

It’s created with the no follow link code in HTML tag, which looks like this:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>

The no follow tag is basically a notice sign for search engines saying, “ignore this.” Links from the following sites are typically no follow links:

  • Blog comments;
  • Social media;
  • Forums;
  • Press releases;
  • Sponsored content;
  • Widgets

How Does Nofollow Link Affect Site Rankings?

Let’s be practical. A link from the New York Times is more relevant as to traffic and, therefore, more pivotal for SEO even if the link is signed as nofollow. Some marketers believe that no follow links pass Trust. Still, it could also imply that negative Trust could be passed as spam warn.

Why Google Prefers the “Nofollow” tag?

Although search engine robots are driven by sophisticated and complex algorithms, search bots lack the cleverness and intuition of the humans, well, at least for the time being. Even if you disclaim advertisements and sponsored posts in a manner that is clear to the organic readers, the robot readers won’t understand it.

Search bots require the “nofollow” tag to tell them explicitly which tags to disregard for search engine optimization.

Google expects you to add the rel=nofollow tag to paid links or redirect paid links to an intermediate page on your website that’s been blocked from search engines in the robots.txt file. The first solution seems way easier than the second.

Should I “Nofollow” my Affiliate Links?

This is a great question and was a topic of a lot of debate in the SEO community for a while.

Ultimately, it was revealed by Google’s Matt Cutts that the Googlebots are smart enough to discover affiliate links from most major services. Thus, adding the “nofollow” tag to these links isn’t quite as important.

But if you’re worried, it won’t hurt your SEO either. Actually, many affiliate link services build the “nofollow” into their hyperlink structure.

Dofollow vs Nofollow Links

Followed and nofollowed links look the same to the average online user.

For example, the cool guy in this sentence is followed link. The cool guy in this sentence is a nofollowed link. The difference between the two is visible only when you dig into the HTML code.


<a href=””>cool guy </a>


<a href=”” rel=“nofollow“>cool guy</a>

The HTML is identical except the addition of the rel=”nofollow” tag.

It’s possible to no follow all links on a webpage by placing a robots meta tag with the value “nofollow” in the header.

Anyway, the nofollow tag is more commonly used as it lets to nofollow some links on the page while leaving others followed.

How to Make a Link No Follow

It’s no secret that adding plenty of links to your site is excellent for boosting website SEO. At the same time, certain links can be harmful to your rankings.

That’s why you need to learn how to make nofollow links.

Step #1: Write the post or page.

Step #2: Add a link to the text as you regularly would – highlight the text you want to be the link and click the link icon at the top of the post input window).

Step #3: Go to the HTML mode – switch from the Visual tab to the Text tab at the top of the window.

Step #4: Find the link in the HTML. It looks like this:

<a href=””>My Page</a>

Step #5: Now, add the tag rel=”nofollow” within the <a> tag like so

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>My Page</a>

That’s all. This link is now a no follow link.

Why Use the Nofollow Tag

Google won’t stand for anyone who intentionally creates low-quality spam links in an attempt to manipulate the search engine rankings. They can even punish websites that create these unnatural links.

In order to avoid Google penalty, a webmaster will use the nofollow tag to show to the search engines that you’re not creating links in an attempt to manipulate rankings.

Essentially, if the link is unnatural, such a link where an advertiser pays to get on a site vs. users finding a page and deciding on their own to link from their website, it needs nofollow tag.

nofollow tag

Here are a few examples of when to use it:

  • Advertorials, paid links, affiliate links – It’s recommended that if an advertiser pays to be on your site, use Nofollow. Other examples of advertising that need the Nofollow tag include sponsored articles and banner ads;
  • You don’t trust or like the content – Sometimes you just don’t feel comfortable being associated with a website. However, you still have to link to that content. It’s better to nip any possible association in the bud now and skip being lumped in with a bad link society;
  • User-generated content (UGC) and comments – This is an example of hedging your bets. While user-generated content like comments can be great, you could find yourself dealing with spammers who post comments and content with the only purpose of generating links. And although you didn’t intend for this to occur, your site could end up paying the price;
  • Press releases – Press releases were a frequently used and abused link building strategy a few years back. So, Google finally devalues these links and demands that links within press releases should feature the Nofollow tag. Be sure to treat these links like you would a paid link.

Does Nofollow Link Have Any Value?

Although no follow links may not directly improve your website’s PageRank, they can still contribute value in some ways.

1. No follow links are necessary for a natural backlink profile

It’s normal for a website to have a mix of dofollow and nofollow links. In fact, Google’s Penguin update “admitted” that it was suspicious for a site to have all dofollow links.

Consider nurturing a backlink profile that appears natural; you don’t need to contact every website that links to you with a no follow link asking for a dofollow one.

2. Boost brand exposure

Use news websites and social media channels for this purpose. If your website is linked in a Los Angeles Times article, for instance, the reference can be fantastic exposure for your brand. Also, take into account the benefit of viral exposure across social media or upvotes of a Quora answer linking to your resource.

3. They grow your do-follow links

The exposure you get from links on popular websites can drive greater awareness. As more folks hear of you, the chances you’ll gain dofollow links organically increase. For example, traffic from Quora can likely result in more fans and followers of your blog, which may successively lead to more links to your content.

dofollow vs nofollow

Do Nofollow Links Help with SEO?

Some believe that all nofollowed links still convey some PageRank. Some think that Google conveys PageRank to some, but not all no followed links. Others think that people are reading too much wording that hasn’t changed for a while.

Still, even if we assume that nofollowed links have no direct impact on search engine optimization, the nofollow links SEO can still have an indirect impact on the SERPS ranking since:

1. They diversify the link profile

Natural backlink profiles are different.

Some links are followed, while others are nofollowed. That fact is inevitable since some people will unavoidably link to you via no followed link – no matter how much you might want, this wasn’t the case.

Also, most of the backlinks you get from following places are nofollowed:

  • Social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.);
  • Forums (Quora, Reddit, etc.);
  • Press releases;
  • Guestbooks (hello, 1998!);
  • Wikipedia;
  • Pingbacks;
  • Directories.

The point is, if a website only has followed backlinks or a noticeably high percentage of followed backlinks, then that’s a signal something shady is going on.

2. Drive traffic

Links aren’t only useful for SEO purposes. They drive referral traffic too. That’s why you need to be active on Quora.

In case you don’t know what Quora is – it’s a Q&A site where anyone can answer the questions readers post. Within those answers, Quora enables links to relevant resources.

In plain English, the nofollow link indirectly led to a follow link.

Therefore, remember this: for someone to link to your page, 3 things have to happen in this order:

  • People see your content;
  • People enjoy your content;
  • People recommend it to others (through links on their site).

Since nofollow links can help with that first step, they’re often accelerator for followed links.

3. Protect from Google penalties

If a site gets tons of traffic, buying a sponsored post on that site may make total sense. And if you’re paying a lot for a feature, then you’ll probably want to involve a backlink so that the users can easily find your site.

The problem is in the following:

  • Google claims that followed paid links are against their Webmaster Guidelines;
  • Big G has a tool that lets anyone report a website for selling or buying links.

However, Google isn’t the guy you should fear — but rather your rivals.

For example, if a competitor views you ranking well for their target keyword, and they use a tool to delve into your backlinks, only to discover followed UGC links.

As a result, they’ll report your website immediately! Why?

If doing so the Google’s webspam team takes a look at your site, discovers the paid links, and giving a manual penalty, then that’s one less rival for them to compete within the SERPs.

OrganicSoft – Strongest Link Builder in San Diego

Links are still an influential ranking factor in SEO planet. But, acquiring the wrong links could lead to a Google Penalty.

As a leading San Diego SEO company, we provide white hat links based on outreach campaigns that are specifically designed for your organization to ensure you are earning the best links.

Our link building services focus on building the land of the related web pages that Google uses to determine a page’s quality and popularity.

Want to improve your website rankings? Contact us today.

OrganikSoft - Link Builder in San Diego