An SEO professional asked a submitted question about nofollow.
They wanted to know if they could use rel=“nofollow” in the URL, in place of the noindex.
John answered that no, essentially nofollow tells us not to pass any page rank to those pages.
However, it doesn’t mean that they will never index the page.
If you really want a page to be blocked from indexing, then you must make sure that there is a noindex on it.
You cannot rely on Google accidentally running across a random link to that page.
Don’t assume that nofollow and noindex are both the same.
In particular, regarding new content, John says that Gary published a blog post about a year ago or so, regarding rel=“nofollow” and different types of other attributes.
Gary mentioned that they do sometimes use nofollow for the discovery of URLs also.
On the one hand, they may see the link without a nofollow, or they may see it with a nofollow and still look at it anyway.
If you don’t want the page to be indexed at all, just make sure it’s not indexed.
This happens at approximately the 34:45 mark in the video.
John Mueller Hangout Transcript
John (Submitted Question) 34:45
Can rel=”nofollow” be used as noindex? For example, when I publish an article on my website, and on every page where this article is mentioned, I’ll just use rel=“nofollow” in the URL with that article.
John (Answer) 35:00
So no, it’s essentially nofollow tells us not to pass any page rank to those pages. But it doesn’t mean that we will never index that page. So if you really want a page to be blocked from indexing, make sure it has a no index on it.
Don’t rely on us not accidentally running across a random link to that page.
So I would not assume that those two are the same. And in particular, with regards to new content on the web, I think Gary did a blog post maybe a year or so ago, about rel=“nofollow” and the different types of other rel attributes, where he mentioned that we do sometimes use it for discovery of URLs as well.
So on the one hand, we might see that link without a nofollow, we might see it with a nofollow and still kind of look at it anyway. If you don’t want the page indexed, then make sure it’s not indexed.