Nofollow Links and SEO – Frequently Asked Questions

Using Rel No Follow Links For SEO

In my last article, I have explained what are nofollow links and how to use nofollow links for search engine optimization of your website or blog. Nofollow links are a very critical issue and they should be dealt carefully. If you make a mistake in judgment and use rel=nofollow links in the wrong context, that usage may severely harm search rankings of your website or blog.

In this article, I will try to explain frequently asked questions related to nofollow links. These are common questions and doubts which newbie, as well as experienced webmasters, go through and I will also explain the concept behind each doubt and what to do in a specific scenario or how to deal with nofollow links in a given context. I have tried my best to include relevant examples of using nofollow links in every given scenario, so that will help you understand the concept more realistically.

Nofollow Links And SEO – Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Shall all the external links of a website be made “Nofollow”, in order to preserve Pagerank?

      No. Certainly Not.If you mark all the links from your website as “Nofollow”, you are basically telling Google and other search engines that you do not trust any other website. That’s not the right thing to do. And there is no need to preserve “Pagerank” because the recommended way to let Pagerank flow from your site to other sites and let PageRank come in from another site to your site. If you try to “cage” PageRank, that’s not what Googlebot and other search engine spiders like. It will confuse them into thinking you are trying to create a “Dead end” or trying to block them from crawling or indexing other websites you have linked to.

      So definitely, not recommended.

    2. Can Incoming “Nofollow” links of a website harm search rankings of a website?

      In general, No.

      Incoming links that are nofollow in nature cannot harm the search rankings of a website. If that was the case, then you can create hundreds of websites and link to your competitors with Nofollow links to reduce their rankings. So yea, it doesn’t work like that.However, there are specific situations when incoming links that are nofollow in nature can harm your website’s rankings. For example, if there are 200 sites linking to you and out of these 200 sites, 186 people always use the nofollow link, it is possible that nobody wants to endorse your site to search engines. In these cases, Google will not count the value associated with those links and will pose a low trust score to your website, if everyone links to you with a Nofollow attribute.

      If you are a legit website and have not done anything suspicious or something which violates Google webmaster quality guidelines, then most of the links to your website will be dofollow in nature and your website should be in pretty good shape.

    3. Shall I mark a Link to a competing site as “Nofollow”?

      You can but you don’t have to. There is no reason why you should mark a link to a competing website or to any other “legitimate” website as “Nofollow”. It doesn’t matter if he is a competitor or not. However, if you don’t trust the website in question as much and you don’t want to endorse that website to search engines, you can and you should use the “Nofollow” attribute.

    4. Shall I make affiliate links Nofollow?

      Yes, definitely you should. Affiliate links or links to partner sites which you are promoting on your websites should be made nofollow. Because you are just recommending a product to your audience and not necessarily recommending an endorsement to search engines by linking to them. Affiliate links or product endorsement links are best-kept nofollow because of the fact that other websites are also linking to the same affiliate site from the websites. If there are too many websites linking to the same affiliate with the dofollow attribute, it would amount to thousands of links which Google will not like because these links do not “Look” natural.

      Hence, it is better safe to be sorry and you should definitely consider marking all “Affiliate”, “Sales” and “Product endorsement” links as “Nofollow”.

    5. Shall I make sponsored links Nofollow?

      Just like Affiliate links, Sponsored links should also be Nofollow in nature. If someone is paying you money to write about them on your website, you are not recommending the product yourself to your readers or audience. You are being paid to endorse and Google does not like paid endorsements that much since Paid endorsements are not “real” and “legitimate” endorsements which Algorithms use to calculate authority of web pages.

      Hence, if you have sponsored links on your website you should definitely mark those links as “Nofollow” telling Google that you do not endorse the external website which is being linked to.

    6. I post sponsored text link ads on my website once in a while. Shall I mark them as Nofollow or Dofollow?

      Similar to affiliate links and sponsored links, text link ads should also be made Nofollow because of the same reasons mentioned above. I would strongly recommend not to host any text link ad on your website and completely abandon text link ads since they are the most dangerous things which can completely de-list a website from a search engine if not dealt with carefully. However, if you must use Text link ads on your website for revenue and profits, you must use the Nofollow attribute to tell search engines that you do not endorse the site being linked to.

    7. I maintain a forum on my website where people post questions and answers. Do external links from the forum has to be nofollow?External links from a forum or portal or a user-generated content section of your website need not be nofollow by default. However, because this section has user-generated content in it and lot of people will try to gain a backlink to their site by commenting on forum posts with signature links in their comment, it makes sense to “Nofollow” all the links in the forum section of your website. This is because you do not know what kind of users will comment on a thread or start new threads and you have little control on the type of links that will be posted. So to be on the safe side, it is better if you mark all the external links in the forum section as “Nofollow”.
    8. When will Nofollow links harm my website?In general, Nofollow links are not built to harm a website or blog. However, if you try to trick the search engines with nofollow links on your website or nofollow links on an external website, it may backfire in some occasions. For example, if you mark all the external links to your website as nofollow, it may harm your website because Google and other search engines may put less weight on your website since you are not endorsing any of the external links on your website. If all the incoming links to your website are nofollow in nature, then it may end up harming your website rankings as well.

      In general, all extreme cases will end up in some damage but if you do not take things to the extreme level and keep things normal, you have no reason to worry about Nofollow links.

    9. Should Internal Links in a website be Nofollow in Nature?Definitely Not.Internal links should be dofollow because you want to flow PageRank from one page to another page. It helps search engines discover new content through dofollow links and it makes their work easy. It helps the search bots navigate from one corner of the website to another corner and it makes a healthy website which Google loves.
    10. I have a particular page which ranks on the first position in Google. I don’t want this page to lose search rankings. Shall I mark all external links on this page as “Nofollow” to prevent Pagerank Loss?No, you should not.Like I have said before, there is no need to “Restrict” or “Preserve” PageRank for a particular page on your website. Keep it natural and keep improving the content and user experience of that page. There is no need to mark all the external or internal links on that page as “Nofollow” because it will have no effect whatsoever on the Google search rankings for that page. So focus on what matters and improve the content, user experience and interaction on that specific page.
    11. Shall Links from Archive, Tag and Category Pages be Marked as Nofollow?No, you should not mark links from Archive tag and category pages as “Nofollow”. Instead, keep them Dofollow because you want Googlebot and other search spiders to crawl the content from all the different sections of your website. There is no reason why you should be marking links from specific sections of your website as “Nofollow”.
    12. Do Links to Archive, Tag and Category Pages needs to be marked as “Nofollow”?

      In some cases, you can. But leaving them as it is is not going to cause any harm.For example, let’s say you have a lot of tag pages on your website which is not that important and you do not want to pass any “Google Juice” to that section of your website. If that is the thought, then you can go ahead and mark all the links to the tag pages as “Nofollow”. If you ask me, I won’t do that because I want to flow PageRank from all the pages of my website to all the other pages, as naturally as possible. There is no reason why I have to stop the flow of PageRank or “Google juice” to the “Tag” pages of my website, so I will keep the links to those pages as “Dofollow”.

    13. Should Links to Sitemap pages, Privacy policy, Contact Us, About Us and other lesser important pages be marked as Nofollow?No, you don’t have to mark them Nofollow but in some occasions, you can mark them “Nofollow” when you want to tell Google that these pages are not very important pages on my website and I don’t want to pass any Google Juice to these pages.
    14. Shall I mark Website Navigation Links as “Nofollow”?No. There is no reason why anyone would mark website navigation links as “Nofollow”. It’s like throwing an axe on your foot, don’t do it.
    15. Should Links to Social Profiles be made Nofollow?

      Social profiles are external links hosted outside your website. If you don’t want to pass any Google juice to your social profiles, you can mark links to social profiles as “Nofollow”. Most website owners do follow this practice. However, keeping them “Dofollow” will not harm your website.

    16. Shall I mark Links posted in Comment forms as Nofollow?Yes, definitely.The content on the comment form is posted by a random user and not by you, so you have no control over the quality of the content and the quality of the links in that content. When you have lots of comments posted on your website or blog, it will become really unmanageable to manage and moderate the quality of each and every link posted through the comment form of your website. Hence, it is better you mark external links posted through comment forms or forum posts as “Nofollow”.
    17. Shall I mark links posted through the website text field of a Comment form as “Nofollow”?

      Yes, definitely.The reasons are the same. You have no control over what kind of website will get linked from the website field of a comment form, so better mark the website field as “Nofollow”.

    18. I have a couple of sister website which matches the theme of my main website. Shall I mark links to these websites as Nofollow links?

      No, not required.Let them be dofollow if you want those two websites to get the Google juice from your website. However, if those two websites are not very good in terms of quality, are mostly spam, or maybe you are not going to update it anyway, you can mark the links to those two websites as “Nofollow”.

    19. Do Widget Links need to be Nofollow? I provide a Widget which anyone can embed on their websites. That widget has a link back to my website. Should I ensure that the link back is nofollow in nature?Widget links should be nofollow in nature.Google will not like thousands of “Dofollow” links to your website which are not “Natural” or “Real” endorsements but are generated from a software or a widget which you provide to others for free. Those links are considered “Spam links” and hence you must mark “Widget links” as nofollow to tell Google and other search engines that these links are not “Natural endorsements”.
    20. Do Banner advertisements need to be Nofollow?

      Yes, definitely.Banner ads must be nofollow to tell Google and search engines that the website you are linking to, you are not endorsing the content of that website. This is just a sponsored partner on your website who has agreed to pay you a monthly fee for displaying an advertisement on your website, and you do not endorse the content or services of the target website personally. Hence, the “Nofollow” link is a mandate for Banner advertisements.

    21. What should I do if a specific advertiser wants to put up a banner ad on my website but is not interested if I do not mark the link as “Nofollow”?

      You should not allow the advertiser to show the banner ad with a Dofollow link. You can do that but if the content and the user experience of the Advertiser’s website is poor, it may backfire at your end because you have linked to that Advertiser website with a “Dofollow” link, telling Google that you personally recommend and endorse the content on the target website. So be careful and I would strongly advise not to entertain advertisers who want a banner ad with a dofollow link.

    22. I have performed Link exchanges with fellow bloggers and website owners in the past. I think my website has been penalized by Google for bad link building and for exchanging links. Shall I mark those links as “Nofollow” to lift the penalization?

      You can and you should. But the best approach is to simply remove those old links from your website and “Disavow” the incoming links to your site from Google search console. If you do not want to remove those links, you can mark them as “Nofollow” telling Google that you no longer endorse the content on those sites. It will eventually help your website recover from the manual or algorithmic penalization.

    23. Should Footer Links pointing to other websites be always Nofollow?

      No, not really. Some people do it, some people don’t. You should only mark a Link as Nofollow when you are not sure about the authenticity of a website and do not want to endorse the content and the user experience of the target website to search engines. If the target website is a legit website with good authority, is a well-known brand which people love, there is no reason why you have to link to them using the “Nofollow” attribute.

    24. What are the SEO Benefits of Using Nofollow Links?

      Nofollow links are the easiest way to tell Google and other search engines that you do not endorse the content and user experience of a website you are linking to. It’s the best way to keep your website away from any sort of penalization because you linked to a website which was spammy, low quality or had content which violated Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.Nofollow links will not help you achieve higher search rankings. It will only help you save your website from manual or algorithmic penalization.

I hope I have covered most of the doubts and questions related to Nofollow links. The concept remains the same, but the implementation goes through minor changes once in a while. If you have a specific question and you want help you, please feel free to chip in on the comment form and I will be glad to answer your question.


Be Sure to read our SEO Guide which contains useful information about SEO and we have discussed in detail key SEO Concepts with examples.

 

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