SEO professionals do their best to make their websites rank as highly as possible on Google. They have all the knowledge and tools necessary to achieve their goals. But when you’re just learning about SEO and how to implement it, you may come across a term known as “Nofollow”. 

The concept has been around for over a decade and it’s very useful. However, the exact rules surrounding nofollow links may be confusing, and chances are you do not know when and how to use them. For this reason, we’ve prepared an article that explains the concept, as well as when to use nofollow on links and when not to use it.

What Is Nofollow?

Nofollow is a rel attribute for HTML code links. It was created back in 2005 with the purpose of fighting comment spam. 

When you are trying to make a piece of content rank higher on search engines like Google, one of the things you do is get other websites to link to it. This is also known as “inbound links). Google determines the value of your blog based on how many platforms link back to it, so it only makes sense that you want to have as many as possible proving that you provide value and quality. 

However, the flaw in this mechanism is that spammers try to exploit it. In order to boost the ranking for their clients, some spam commenters will try to spread the link around excessively. In their eyes, the comment section of large, popular blogs is the perfect spot for this. 

So, blogs needed a way to deal with this problem, which is how the nofollow attribute was created. Thus, spammers were about to be discouraged from posting links in the comment section of reputable blogs, as nofollow would make them get no credit for them. 

Nofollow has changed a lot over the years, but it’s still one of the most widely used attributes by SEO experts. 

When Should You Use Nofollow?

The nofollow attribute can help you in many ways. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to know when the use of nofollow is called for. It’s not always necessary, which is why you should ensure you do not make a mistake. 

Here is when the nofollow attribute should be considered:

  • Low-Quality Platforms

Some websites are bad in terms of quality, even if they are not spam. In this situation, there’s a risk of your own blog’s value decreasing and your SEO getting no positive push. Therefore, using nofollow on low-quality links is the way to go if you do not want to see your Google ranking going down.

  • Spam Websites

Spam sites are some of the most annoying types of links to deal with. People who leave spam sites in the comment section do not want to put in the hard work, so they rely on your value and popularity to boost their SEO. This can harm you in the long run. So, in this case, it’s best to use nofollow attributes on spam sites.

  • Promotional Links

There are links that are either promoting other services or products or they are just ads or sponsorships. You can nofollow these as well, although another attribute that works for them is rel=sponsored. Now, even though sponsored is more recommended by Google, you can always play it safe by using both sponsored and nofollow. 

  • Internal Links

At first glance, you may not see any issue with internal links leading to any page on your site, even if it’s nonindexed. However, this wouldn’t really add any value, in which case you may want to nofollow them. 

  • Small Platforms

When a website has just been established, it might still have some issues that the owners need to work on. At the same time, it might not have the best ranking on search engines. As a result, linking to such a platform can hurt your SEO. Now, doing this won’t have such a damaging effect, but that doesn’t mean you want it there. 

With that in mind, you should use nofollow to avoid any backlash in case the small site gets hacked, turns into a malicious platform, or disappears and is replaced with something else.

  • Comment and UGC Links

Let’s be honest, it’s unpleasant to get a link on your page when you are not the one who put it there in the first place. It feels like you’re losing control of your site and that other people can do whatever they want and get away with it. So, when someone visits your blog only to drop a link in the comment section, you should use nofollow. You can also rank these sites as UGC links, although it’s not a requirement.

  • Example Links

Now and then, you may link to something as an example, while that site may not be relevant to your platform. In this case, you can nofollow the link. 

When Is It Best to Not Use Nofollow?

Although nofollow is a great attribute, it’s not always a must. In fact, there are situations when it’s best to stay away from nofollow. 

For instance, if a link is not made to manipulate the PageRank, then you do not need to use nofollow. Moreover, if you genuinely want to offer someone a link despite not being paid or offered anything in exchange, do not use nofollow. It is probably a good resource, so there’s no need. 

Being penalized by Google is one of a blog’s worst nightmares. However, you shouldn’t exaggerate with nofollow just because you fear getting penalized. Not all outbound links should be nofollowed – so, make sure you determine the value of each before you take advantage of the attribute. 

Final Thoughts

Using nofollow is right in some situations – for example, when it comes to spam links, comment and UGC links, example links, small sites, promotional links, low-quality platforms, and some internal links. However, there are cases when it’s not suitable, so it’s always best to know when to stay away from nofollow.