The nofollow tag was introduced by Google in 2005 to help combat the use of spammy links for SEO purposes. This tag can be used in the rel attribute of any HTML <a> element. Setting this tag for a link instructs search engines that this link should not affect the link target’s search engine rankings. A nofollow link should give no link juice to the website that the link is pointing to (though we don’t know exactly what Google is actually doing behind the scenes of course).
You can set the nofollow attribute in hyperlinks as follows:
<a href=www.example.com rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>
To check if a website is using the nofollow tag on your link, you can have a look at the page source and search for “nofollow” in the source code.
Let’s look at five ways the nofollow tag can be useful for your website.
Use nofollow For Links to Unimportant Pages
Use for Duplicate Links
If you have multiple links on one of your website’s pages pointing to the same URL (to an internal page or an external site), you might want to use the rel=”nofollow” tag on the less important links. There is some controversy around this topic in the SEO community however, with some experts claiming that if you use the nofollow tag for one of the links, the other links will also get ignored by Google. Experimentation as always is key here.
Use in Blog Comments
If you have a blog that allows people to post comments, it could be a good idea to automatically set the nofollow tag for every link that is included in a comment. The most famous blogging CMS WordPress’ default setting for comments is to set the nofollow tag on any links.
Use to “Vouch” for Your Website
According to some SEO experts it’s is a good idea to get some nofollow backlinks to your website. They believe that this shows to Google that you are naturally building links to your website, and not just buying links or using spammy link building techniques.
Getting a nofollow link from a website or forum that has high authority and/or a large audience in your niche will still help your website get more visitors.
Use When Linking to Dodgy Websites
Sometimes you want to link to a low-quality or spammy website. For example for referencing a dodgy website in a case study that you are writing about bad SEO practices. You certainly don’t want to give such sites any link juice from your website though. Furthermore, linking to spammy websites might even hurt your own website’s reputation and search engine ranking. Using the nofollow tag in this case makes sure that Google’s bots ignore the link.
If you’re currently not using the nofollow tag on your website, you might want to go through the list above and do a quick check of your website and tweak out your links a bit.
Zane Schwarzlose runs the SEO at Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin-based web marketing firm. He recently learned to stop worrying and love the nofollow.