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Term: Nofollow

A ‘nofollow’ is a value that can be assigned to the rel attribute of an HTML element to instruct search engines that the hyperlink should not influence the ranking of the link’s target in the search engine’s index.

Alternative Names:
Nofollow Link, Nofollow Attribute


Expanded Explanation:
When applied to a hyperlink, a ‘nofollow’ attribute tells search engines not to count the link with which it is used when calculating the popularity, relevance or authority of the linked page. Originally introduced by Google to combat spamdexing and uncontrolled link spam in blog comments, the ‘nofollow’ attribute is widely used today to handle paid links and untrusted content.

Benefits or Importance:
The nofollow attribute can help maintain the integrity of your site’s link profile by preventing the transfer of PageRank to low-quality or unrelated sites. It also allows site owners to indicate to search engines which links on their site are advertisements or paid placements, helping to maintain compliance with search engine guidelines.

Common Misconceptions or Pitfalls:
A common misconception is that nofollow links have no value in SEO. While it’s true they do not pass PageRank, they can still bring valuable traffic and contribute to your site’s visibility. Additionally, a diverse link profile, including both dofollow and nofollow links, looks more natural to search engines.

Use Cases:
Use cases for the nofollow attribute include:
– Links within user-generated content, such as comments or forum posts, where you can’t vouch for the quality or relevance of the linked sites.
– Paid links or sponsored content, where passing PageRank would violate search engine guidelines.
– Links to pages you don’t wish to endorse or pass authority to.

Real-World Examples:
An example of a nofollow link in HTML might look like this:

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

Best Practices or Tips:

  • Use ‘nofollow’ for paid or sponsored links to maintain compliance with search engine guidelines.
  • Apply ‘nofollow’ to links within user-generated content, such as comments or forum posts.
  • Don’t ‘nofollow’ all outbound links because this is not a natural linking behaviour and can appear suspicious to search engines.
  • Review your nofollow links periodically to ensure they are still relevant and appropriate.

Limitations or Considerations:
While nofollow links can help maintain a healthy and natural link profile, they should be used judiciously. Overuse can lead to an unnatural link profile that may be deemed suspicious by search engines. Additionally, nofollow links do not pass PageRank, meaning they do not directly contribute to a site’s SEO in terms of ranking power.

Nofollow is often compared to the dofollow link attribute (which is the default state of a link and doesn’t need to be specified). While dofollow links pass authority from the linking page to the linked page and can help improve search engine rankings, nofollow links do not pass this authority.

Historical Context or Development:
The nofollow attribute was introduced by Google in 2005. Today, it is a common part of SEO practices and is recognised by all major search engines.

Resources for Further Learning:
For a more in-depth understanding of nofollow links, these resources are recommended:

Related Services:
The use and understanding of nofollow links can be important in many agency services, including:

  • SEO Services: Understanding how to effectively use nofollow attributes can be crucial to an effective SEO strategy.
  • Content Marketing Services: When creating and promoting content, it’s important to know when and how to use nofollow links.
  • Link Building Services: A good link-building strategy includes a mix of dofollow and nofollow links.
  • Website Audit Services: An audit can identify inappropriate or overuse of nofollow links.


Related Terms: Dofollow, PageRank, Link Profile, Backlink, SEO, Link Spam.