What should we know about nofollow links?

by Tolovaj

Are nofollow links worthless? When and why we should use rel nofollow tag? Is nofollow really no follow?

What the heck is nofollow? How the internet changed whit introduction of this word in the hml code? Does nofollow always means no follow? How can we use nofollow tag to improve our positions in search engines and get more visitors?

Here are top ten things you should be aware about nofollow if you want to benefit from its use:

(Image credit: clker.com)

Why use nofollow?

(It should be ultimate answer to spamming!)

1.As many other controversial ideas this too came from Google. Back in old old days of the internet (only couple of years ago in human life) everybody was writing a blog. Some of the blogs were more popular than others and they gained authority in form of numerous backlinks.

If somebody visited such blog, he could leave a comment and put his page or blog address in his signature. Because link to his page came from authoritative site (blog), some authority was transferred  to his page too. This was very helpful, because search engines started to rank his site higher (he had links!) than others (they didn’t have links).

So numerous site owners started to abuse commenting with A LOT of low quality commenting on A LOT of blogs and other pages where commenting was allowed (forums, revenue sharing sites etc.). This process is called spam commenting and is still going on.

Results in search engines, heavily dependent on the number of backlinks, were totally unrelated to the quality of the sites and Google, as leading search engine decided to introduce nofollow tag in his algorithm. With using of nofollow attribute the site owner got a chance to tell search engine’s spiders not to pass authority to pages with this mark.

Google (and many owners, sick of spam comments) expected introduction of nofollow will reduce spam but in reality spamming exploded. Serious spammer who was used to get a hundred links a day, could not count on passing their authority anymore, so he had to multiply his effort and in short time many scripts, made exclusively for automated spam commenting, came into market.

Of course Google never admitted this introduction maybe brought more harm than good and now we have to live with it:((

Nofollow link tells search engines they should not give any credit to the target

In other words: nofollow links do not pass PageRank
No follow!
No follow!

Are we obliged to use this tag?

2. No. But in many cases we don’t own sites where we are publishing, so we depend on site owner’s decisions. All comment sections on free popular blog platforms like Blogger or Wordpress are set on nofollow by default.

At Wizzley, for instance all links from articles are set on nofolow for new authors because most spammers are not willing to set more than one or two articles. In Wizzley’s case we have to publish at least five articles to make links from our articles dofollow. At HubPages nofollow or dofollow depends on the rank of the author and the article, at Squidoo until recently lensmaster could choose between nofollow and dofollow in some modules but not in others (later was officially set on nofollow, but links from link list modules stayed dofollow until the very end of the site), on Blogger a choice is still up to the writer, and so on and on.

Should I follow this link?

I trust this site: please do follow!
I trust this site: please do follow!


3. There is no such thing as dofollow (sometimes also called ‘do follow’) tag in html links. The term dofollow is used only as term to name the absence of nofollow tag.

4. How to set noffolow attribute in html code?

(Setting link to no follow?)

If you can set 'dofollow' link in html code, it is extremely easy to change it to nofollow. You just have to put rel="nofollow" attribute in the code. Human visitors will not notice the change and link will be still clickable, only search engine spiders will treat this link differently.

They will know the author of the html code with nofollow for some reason don't want to pass authority of his page to page he is linking in the code. In the eyes off Google authority is other name for PageRank.

Two examples of syntax for nofollow link

Without red part of the code this link would be dofollow
Without red part of the code this link would be dofollow

How can we check if certain link is set on nofollow?

5. It is easy. There are numerous add-ons available for different browsers, for instance Web Developer for FireFox (it colors nofollow tagged links in pink and dofollow in violet), or SeoQuake for Chrome, where are nofollow attributed links strikethroughed.

If you don’t want to install add-ons, there is another option. Just hold your ctrl key, than press key U. You will see html code of the page. Let us say you want to check link to site.com. Try to find (ctrl-F is another useful shortcut for searching through the page) the link you want more info about. If it looks like image above you will know for sure it is nofollow link!

When we should use nofollow?

6.Obviously in all comment sections, if we don’t know with whom we are dealing with. And in the wide world of the internet we really never know for sure. If we set comment section on nofollow, we will not pass authority of our pages to unknown addresses.

7. If we sell space in our pages, we should put nofollow attribute on links too. If we don’t do that, we are actually selling our authority and this is big no no according to Google webmaster’s guidelines.

Google has two rankings of the sites on the web, one comes from so called organic searches (most of humans are made from organic compounds) and it heavily depends on authorities of backlinks. Other ranking is paid through Google AdSense program and all links on this rankings are nofollow.

8. It is logical, although many web marketeers don’t know that, to put nofollow into all affiliate links. With affiliate links we are trying to sell product X, available on page Y, through our page Z. But if we set a link from Z to Y, we are actually voting Y up and in search engine’s rankings Y will be higher than our Z. This means potential buyer would more likely click on Y than our link and maybe buy a product, but we would not earn any commission.

9. It can be very good idea to use nofollow tag on unrelated content. You can check our first site in the next picture. As you can see we use a lot of free images to make our site more attractive. But images are not royalty free and this means we have to give credit to sites they came from in form of backlinks.

Unfortunately spiders, crawling through our site, saw  a lot of links to authoritative sites dealing with photography and got an impression our site is dealing with photography too. It took us couple of months to find a problem and told search engines what is our site really dealing with.

Is nofollow useless in competition for better search engine’s rankings?

What's the use of nofollow?10. Nope. Link is a link. It is worth something if it brings you traffic. Links from Twitter, YouTube or FaceBook are nofollow, but they can bring you hundreds of visitors and some of them can be so satisfied with your content to give you dofollow links from their blogs.

Or they can simply press LIKE button. A lot of LIKEs and quality time on your site can only benefit your site in the suspicious eyes of search engines. So go for dofollow if you can, but don’t be afraid of nofollow either.

By the way... Don't forget to press LIKE button for this article:)

Noffolow links are colored pink and dofollow violet

Using nofollow on your own site can be tricky but rewarding
This is part of our site with articles about beauty
This is part of our site with articles about beauty
Updated: 05/06/2015, Tolovaj
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Have you lerned something useful about nofollow?

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DerdriuMarriner on 11/17/2020

Tolovaj, Thank you for the pictures and practicalities.
It's an educational, enlightening combination in your writing here that you analyze fairy tales and, through such articles as this and Web 2.0 and others, elucidate technology.
Has anything effective arisen to counter hacker scripts for automated spam commenting?

Tolovaj on 10/21/2013

It is pretty controversial subject, WriterArtist,:) I see so called experts using it wrongly all the time, so I am glad if I helped a bit.

WriterArtist on 10/21/2013

Thanks for the important guide on no follow links. Looking back, It took me quite sometime to understand it. You have used examples to explain it in most simple words.

Tolovaj on 08/10/2013

Thanks for your comment, CeresSchwarz, and your questions.

You should add nofollow tag to your code in blog posts as written in examples above.

After five published articles 'your' links will become dofollow (internal are already dofollow) but some will stay nofollow (like image credits and affiliate links in Amazon modules. Same is with vigilinks, I suppose (I don't use that). If you will use aff. links in text , you should add nofollow manually. I hope this helps.

CeresSchwarz on 08/06/2013

Thanks for this useful article on no follow as well as the examples on how to add no follow on our links. You mentioned putting no follow on affiliate links, do you know how to do this for Amazon affiliate links on a Blogger blog when using the Amazon-generated links? As for Wizzley, you mentioned that our links will become do follow upon publishing 5 articles but what about the affiliate links? Will those still be no follow like you suggested they should be?

Tolovaj on 07/23/2013

Thanks, Thamisgith, it was my pleasure:)

Thamisgith on 07/22/2013

Thanks for this. There's a lot of confusion about nofollow links - I think that you explained it very well indeed.

Tolovaj on 07/19/2013

Links on wordpressDOTcom are nofollowed in comment section, other links are by default dofollow. On self hosted wordpress you have complete control on all sections. I hope, it is clear now, Mira;)

Tolovaj on 07/19/2013

Yes, this is the right way to do it, Mira.

Mira on 07/19/2013

Oh, but didn't you say that all links on Wordpress are nofollow by default?

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