Links play a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO). Some links pass on link equity and help pages rank higher in search results. Other links don’t pass on rankings benefits. These are known as nofollow links.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about nofollow links. We’ll explain what they are, when and why to use them, and how they impact SEO. Let’s get started!
What Is A Nofollow Link?
A nofollow link is a type of HTML link that includes a rel=”nofollow” attribute. This tells search engines like Google not to pass on link equity or ranking power to the linked page. Instead, nofollow links are treated as untrusted votes that don’t influence search rankings.
Here is an example of an HTML nofollow link:
<a href="https://www.example.com" rel="nofollow">Example Link</a>
When a link includes rel=”nofollow”, search engines will crawl the link as usual but won’t use it as a ranking signal. The linked page won’t gain any link equity or authority from a nofollow link.
Nofollow links serve an important purpose – they allow webmasters to link out without passing on SEO value. Let’s explore why you might want to use nofollow links on your site.
When To Use Nofollow Links
There are several instances where nofollow links are recommended or required:
1. User-Generated Content
Any links within user-generated content, like blog comments or forum posts, should be nofollowed. This prevents spammers from manipulating rankings by posting links on your site. Most blogging and CMS platforms will automatically add rel=”nofollow” to UGC.
2. Affiliate & Paid Links
If you publish affiliate links or sponsored content on your site, these links should be nofollowed. Google recommends nofollowing paid links so they don’t pass on equity.
3. Widgets And Third-Party Content
Content from external sites published on your page, like Twitter feeds or YouTube embed, should be nofollowed. You don’t want to pass equity to third-party domains.
4. Navigational Site Links
Internal links used for site navigation like menus, footers or “back to top” buttons don’t need to pass rankings value. Applying nofollow allows equity to flow more freely to important content links.
5. Untrusted External Sites
Links pointing to low-quality, unrelated, or questionable sites are candidates for nofollow. You don’t want to endorse or pass equity to sketchy pages. Using nofollow prevents this.
As you can see, nofollow links have many valid uses for controlling the flow of rankings power on your site. Next let’s talk about how nofollow status impacts SEO.
How Nofollow Links Impact SEO
Nofollow links have a nuanced impact on SEO:
Nofollow links do not pass on link equity or authority. The linked page will not gain any direct SEO benefit from a nofollowed link.
Crawling and Indexing
Pages with nofollow links can still be crawled, indexed, and ranked by search engines. Nofollow does not block bots from discovering URLs.
The anchor text of a nofollow link may be examined by search engines. But its relevancy signals are greatly reduced compared to regular followed links.
In essence, nofollow links provide search engines with context about page content and topics. But nofollows don’t directly influence the search rankings of the linked page. The page won’t gain the SEO boost that a normal followed link provides.
Now that we understand their purpose and SEO value, let’s move on to metrics for measuring nofollow links.
Tracking Nofollow Link Metrics
To assess the impact of nofollow links, there are a few key metrics you can monitor:
- Nofollow Ratio – The percentage of external links on your pages that are nofollowed. A high ratio may signal overly defensive linking.
- Domain Nofollow Rate – The percentage of links to a particular domain that are nofollowed. High rates may indicate low domain trust.
- Page Authority Flow – The equity passed by followed links vs. lost through nofollows. Large differentials suggest issues.
- Top Pages Sort – View pages sorting by followed vs. nofollowed links to identify anomalies.
- Linking Root Domains – The number of unique domains with followed vs. nofollowed links pointing to your site.
Analyzing nofollow metrics helps gauge the health of internal linking, identify risky external links, and evaluate overall equity flows. Routinely monitoring nofollow data is a best practice for informed SEO.
Now let’s get into some tips for using nofollow links effectively on your website.
Best Practices For Using Nofollow Links
Here are some recommendations for properly utilizing nofollow links:
- Use nofollow on paid and affiliated links. This includes banner ads, sponsorships, or product references.
- Add nofollow to user-generated content like blog comments and forum posts to control manipulative links.
- Selectively use nofollow for low-quality sites or pages with thin content, scraped materials, or questionable reputation.
- Consider nofollowing navigation links, footers, and widgets as they don’t need to pass weight.
- Avoid over-optimizing anchor text of followed links by making some contextual links nofollow.
- Use nofollow for links in press releases, guest posts, and other external PR content pointing at your site.
- When buying links, ask that they be nofollowed to avoid manual penalties.
- Monitor nofollow ratios, equity flow, and metrics regularly to identify abnormal patterns.
- Take care not to over-nofollow and cut off equity to quality pages. Selective use is key.
Adhering to these best practices will help ensure that nofollow links are applied strategically when appropriate without undermining SEO.
Now let’s go over some common questions around nofollow links.
What Is The Difference Between A Dofollow Link And A Nofollow Link?
The main difference between a dofollow link and a nofollow link is that dofollow links pass on link equity to the destination page, while nofollow links do not pass on link equity.
Should I Use Dofollow Or Nofollow?
You should use dofollow links for trusted sites you want to endorse in order to pass rankings value. Use nofollow links for risky, paid or manipulative links in order to control equity flow.
Why Use A Nofollow Link?
Nofollow links serve an important purpose – they allow webmasters to link out without passing on SEO value. Common uses include user-generated content, affiliate links, paid links, third-party widgets, and navigation elements that don’t need equity.
Are Nofollow Links Worthless?
While nofollow links don’t directly influence rankings, they still have SEO value by bringing referral traffic and indicating site themes and topics to search engines.
How Do I Fix Nofollow Links?
It’s best to fix problematic nofollow links by being selective and strategic with their use to avoid limiting equity flow. The ideal solution is to disavow or remove risky links rather than hiding them with nofollow attributes.
Final Tips On Using Nofollow Links
- Don’t nofollow all external links – be selective to avoid limiting equity.
- Monitor nofollow volume using tracking tools and link metrics.
- Use nofollow strategically for UGC, ads, questionable sites, navigation, and affiliates.
- Consider selectively nofollowing links to competitors or industry providers.
- Avoid hiding bad links using nofollow. Disavow or remove them instead.
- No need to nofollow links within compelling original content like blog posts.
We hope this detailed guide gives you a solid grasp of how nofollow links work and how to use them effectively as part of an integrated SEO strategy. If you need help with your SEO strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out to 427 Digital today!