Nofollow Links: Meaning, Basics & When to Apply Them




Updated 2/12/2024

Learn about nofollow links, what they mean for SEO, and when to apply them. Find directions and considerations for using this important tag on your site.

nofollow link cover - link with a dnd sign

There are many tools and techniques for telling search engines how to crawl and treat your site. Nofollow links tell web crawlers and search engines how to treat a hyperlink. Utilizing them helps you manage SEO and site authority. This guide covers the basics of nofollow links and how to use them.

A nofollow link is a hyperlink with a rel="nofollow" attribute in its HTML code.

This attribute signals to search engines like Google that they shouldn’t pass on any SEO value to the linked page.

This is important because it can help manage the quality and relevance of outbound links on a website, protecting it from being associated with low-quality content or websites.

Example Code

Here’s what they look like in HTML:

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

For the most part, this looks just like a normal link. The rel="nofollow" attribute is what makes this a nofollow link.

These types can be key for several reasons:

  • Control Link Equity: By marking a link as nofollow, you prevent link equity (ranking power) from being passed from your page to another. This can be helpful when linking to sites you don’t want to endorse or pass on authority.
  • Prevent Penalties: Using nofollow can help you avoid penalties from search engines. If you’re pointing to a low-quality or spammy site, a nofollow tag ensures that search engines don’t associate your site with the other site.
  • Regulate User-Generated Content: If your website has a lot of user-generated content (like in comment sections or forums), nofollow links can prevent spammers from trying to improve their SEO by posting links on your site.

Knowing when to use them is critical for maintaining good SEO practices. Here are several scenarios where using nofollow tags would be appropriate:

  • When You Don’t Want Bots Following Links: Use the nofollow value when you want Google not to associate your site with the linked page. This is a broad recommendation. To identify sponsored or user-generated content, qualify them according to Google’s guidelines.
  • Links to Low-Quality or Untrusted Sites: If you need to reference a site you don’t completely trust or have questionable or low-quality content, use a nofollow tag. This ensures you don’t pass link equity to the site and prevents potential negative effects on your site’s SEO.
  • Site-Generated Search Results Pages: Pages generated by your site’s internal search function, typically low in original content and value, should generally use nofollow links. This can help conserve your site’s crawl budget by directing search engine bots toward more valuable, content-rich pages.

Remember, the overall goal is to ensure the integrity of your website while following search engine guidelines.

Bottom Line

While nofollow links don’t pass SEO value to the linked pages, they play a crucial role in maintaining your site’s health by helping you manage the type of content you associate with. Understanding when and how to use nofollow links is essential to SEO best practices. ?


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