What does Nofollow Mean ?“
Nofollow” is an append which is coded into the HTML markup of a hyperlink. It is used to prevent a search engine from indexing a link to a particular Web page. Some strategic uses of external “Nofollow” are associated with link popularity management, e.g., for site owners that do not want to give full “follow” credit to links posted by users in their forums or blog comments.
A no follow link is a link that does not count as a point in the page’s favor, does not boost PageRank, and doesn’t help a page’s placement in the SERPs. No follow links get no attention.
A no follow link is created with the nofollow link HTML tag, which looks like this:
The nofollow tag is basically a notice sign for search engines saying, “Do Not count this.”
A World Without No Follow = Spamalot
As we discussed earlier, the natural do follow form of links is used by Google to measure PageRank. More links means more link juice, which results in higher ranking website pages. In its unadulterated state, PageRank exists to see what pages are the most popular (and therefore, likely the best quality pages), and deliver those top pages to searchers.
Well, ours is an imperfect world, and, as you might have heard, some self-proclaimed SEO “experts” scheme to trick search engines and inflate their rankings using black-hat, unethical methods, and in the times before the nofollow attribute, link-building was an easy way to artificially boost page rankings.
Once PageRank was discovered by SEO black-hats, all hell broke loose! Suddenly it was all about the links for SEO. More inbound links meant better PageRank, and SEOs were determined to get as many links possible, even if it meant spamming everyone on the web to get them.
Wikipedia got messy too, as people tried to add their own sites as references on hundreds of Wikipedia pages all in the name of the coveted link juice.
The blogging community was worried – these spammers were destroying any chance at fostering real community and authentic discussion on blogs. In 2005, Google, the self-styled web police, stepped in. Google’s Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen of Blogger stepped in to introduce the nofollow attribute.
NoFollow: The Tag the Internet Needs, But Not the One it Deserves
The necessity of the nofollow tag highlights the crooked and spammy mentality commonly associated with SEO, but there’s no denying we couldn’t get by without it.
The no follow link tag has done a lot of good for the online world, normally SEO spammers won’t bother posting irrelevant links to blogs or forum posts if they know they won’t get to publish a follow link. WordPress automatically assigns the no follow link attribute to all user-submitted links, and Wikipedia does the same for its reference section.
While blog comment spam still happens, no follow dampened it.
As a webmaster, you might find yourself wondering when to use the no follow attribute and when to allow for do follow links. No follow links primarily belong in:
- Paid links (it wouldn’t be fair to buy link juice, now would it?)
- Anything involving what Google calls “untrusted content”
Some webmaster may disable the nofollow attribute as a reward for blog commenters who are contributing to the blogging community or online discussion, but that’s up to individual discretion.
Should I Bother with No Follow Links?
Yes, just because they don’t provide SEO link value doesn’t mean no follow links are worthless. No follow links still provide valuable referral traffic.
A well-placed blog comment or a relevant forum post, no follow or not, can send a huge amount of traffic to your site, which then can funnel down to leads and conversions!
Search engines today are looking at a lot of factors outside of link juice and PageRank. Social signals like those from Twitter and Facebook are increasingly valuable, despite being no follow. The key is to build your brand – don’t think of what links are good for SEO, but instead think what links are good for your business, your brand, and what links can help establish you as an industry authority. Remember that links, no follow or not, build trust.
« Back to Glossary Index