One of the longest-running SEO techniques is to use the rel=nofollow attribute on your links. This attribute gives you some measure of control when it comes to which links are counted, and which are not.
Recently, however, Google changed the rel=nofollow rules.
There are a number of attributes to choose from when you are setting nofollow vs. follow. Now, there are certain ‘new’ attributes, including rel=ugc, and rel=sponsored.
Don’t worry, we will get to the new nofollow rules in a moment.
Despite the reality of the situation, there is still a lingering myth of an attribute called “dofollow” that some SEO professionals believe is a legitimate tag.
SEO specialists will sometimes call a link “dofollow” even though links are followed by default. In other words, while there is something called dofollow, it doesn’t really mean anything.
For example, the following code:
<a href=”domainname.com” target=”_blank”>
Is no different from this code:
<a href=”domainname.com” target=”_blank” rel=”follow”>
The second one is overkill. There is no reason to include rel=”follow” because it does not exist. Google will crawl all links on a page by default unless there is a reason not to.
John Mueller said this regarding rel=”follow”:
What Exactly is Nofollow?
For those unfamiliar with SEO best practices and common knowledge, nofollow refers to code that makes links not count.
Webmasters can use the nofollow tag on links that they want search engine crawlers not to follow.
A link to a site is considered an editorial vote for a site, meaning the site you’re linking to is legitimate, and adds value for the user.
When search engines crawl your website, they will ignore any links with this markup, and instead focus on more important or relevant content on your site.
This can be useful when you want to create an ad for another company’s product without giving them credit for it, or if you do not want spammy websites linking back to you for the sole sake of ranking higher.
Why is Nofollow Important?
Nofollow links are important for a few reasons.
First, the nofollow attribute tells search engines to ignore a link and not to consider it in their ranking algorithm, which helps prevent spammy websites from linking back to your site.
A webmaster tags hyperlinks as nofollow when they do not want them followed by search engine crawlers while crawling the web page.
When a page is crawled by an internet search engine, by default all linked content will be indexed. But sometimes, certain links deserve to be ignored.
Nofollow allows for that.
Nofollow links can be used in the following ways:
- To discourage spammy websites from linking back to your site by marking those links as nofollow.
- Prevent webmasters from accidentally getting penalized because of another website’s bad practices, such as buying or exchanging guest posts for link schemes that violate Google guidelines.
- Tell search engines what level of importance a hyperlink has when determining how well pages rank on SERPs.
It’s important to keep track of your pages and maintain your blog so you don’t run into any unwanted penalties.
This includes paying attention to all incoming links and using certain tools such as Google Search Console, which will let you see if there are any problems with crawling errors or hacked content.
Other tools like Screaming Frog will help you find all of the nofollow links that exist on your site.
What Are the New Nofollow Rules?
You may have heard of the new nofollow rules, which we’ll go over here.
Again, nofollow is a tag placed on links that tells search engines not to pass any link value in their ranking algorithms for the destination of that nofollowed link. This means they are not counted at all when you are casting your “editorial vote” for that link.
UGC stands for user-generated content, which refers to things like blog comments, discussion forums, and other types of similar content all generated by users.
Basically, any blog comments or guestbook comments on your site should be labeled as UGC.
The “sponsored” attribute designation usually implies the link is an affiliate link for advertising reasons, and should not be counted as a legitimate link.
These can include adsense ads as well as any ads you don’t want Google to count when evaluating the links on your site.
John Mueller: Using Nofollow Means That Link is Not Counted
When nofollow is used, it discounts links primarily. This means that the link is ignored, and is not counted normally as an editorial vote for a site.
Using nofollow is useful if you’re linking to sites that may not have a reliable reputation.
The link will still lead the reader there, but Google won’t see it as an editorial vote for that site.
Using nofollow is not ideal in every case, so you should make sure that the designation and its implications fit what you want before applying it on any links!