A webmaster was concerned about nofollow. He asked how Google handles it, and whether it counts as a hint as opposed to an outright overt linking signal.
Even if you notate your links as nofollow, Google can still crawl and index the URL independently, even though it’s notated as nofollow.
This discussion occurs at approximately the 13:31 mark in the video.
John Mueller 09/10/2021 Hangout Transcript
Got it. Brilliant. And, um, what does nofollow mean, in terms of and what I mean by that is like, does it, does it count as a hint, for example?
Essentially, we, we use nofollow in…so what we tried to do with the nofollow is essentially stopped the passing of signals for that, but what can happen is that we will still discover the page that you’re linking to, and we might crawl and index that separately. So, for example, a common setup is you use, or, Well, not really common, but it happens every now and then. People sometimes use internal nofollow links to point out a specific page within their website. And they expect that internal page not to show up in search because it’s only linked with a nofollow link. But from our point of view, if we discover that URL, and we can crawl it and index it, then we might still index it independently.