No Follow Link: Everything You Need To Know [Updated 2020]

The “No follow” link is one of the easiest HTML tags and one that’s vital for your SEO. Learn exactly what the Nofollow attribute does, when you should and should not use it on links, and why it matters to SEO.

Nofollow link is not a new concept. People have been using it for like 14 years. To give you a better understanding let’s dive into the topic.

What Does A No Follow Link Actually Mean?

Nofollow links are hyperlinks with the rel=“nofollow” tag.

These links do not impact on the search engine rankings because Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across them. In reality, Google doesn't even crawl on links that are nofollowed. In short, the nofollow tag tells Google to ignore that link.

Nofollow links emerged in 2005 and it came about as a reaction to blog spam comments. According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

“Links marked with these rel attributes will generally not be followed.”

The nofollow tag is simply a code for search engines that says "don't count this."

Using No Follow Links: Adding The Tag Manually

You have to follow the following steps to add the nofollow tag manually:

1. Start by writing the basic link HTML. For example:

<a href="">Text to the link</a>

2. Add the rel=“nofollow” tag before the first >

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Text to the link</a>

3. Use the “sponsored” tag if the link is paid in this way:

<a href="" rel="sponsored nofollow">Text to the link</a>

In the case of an affiliate link, it might look a bit more confusing because it’s much longer, but the basic concept is somewhat the same.

You can copy-paste the above links on your website where HTML is accepted.

Completing these 3 simple steps, the link will now be a nofollow link.

But what are the functions of these new attributes like “sponsored”?

Nofollow Links in Real World: Updates in 2020

Google announced that nofollow attributes will no longer be a hint in March 2020. Rather, it would be a directive. Some still have doubts about the announcement but here’s the confirmation.

Evolving “nofollow” – new ways to identify the nature of links - Google’s Announcement.

Google added 2 more rel attributes for identifying the intent of links which are: rel=“sponsored” and rel=“ugc”.

The new attributes can be used with the nofollow link.

If your links don't fall into any of the updated categories, but you still want to tell Google that you're not vouching for them, just use nofollow.

When Should You Use No Follow Links?

Let’s take a look at what Google says about qualifying your outbound links:

nofollow links

What they meant was that links marked with these rel attributes will generally not be followed. Whereas nofollow was previously used as a general catchall for links that you didn't want to pass via PageRank, now it is used when the other two rel attributes (sponsored and UGC) aren't relevant and you don't want a link to pass PageRank.

When Shouldn’t You Use No Follow Links?

If you give somebody a link because you want to, you think it's a good source, and you haven't been given anything or paid for it, you don't need to nofollow it.

If you don't see that it can in any way be considered a link designed to manipulate PageRank, you don't need to follow it.

Some bloggers nofollow all the outbound links of their website. This is also a mistake unless your business or website exists only to sell links.

What Are The Benefits of Using No Follow Links?

A nofollow link brings value to your website in so many ways.

The best part about nofollowed links is that they're fantastic for traffic and can give you a lot more traffic than many of the followed links. A nofollowed link may not help you rank higher – but with the decision to interpret it as a hint instead of a directive, it could still do.

Even though we conclude that nofollow links have no direct effect on SEO, these may still have an indirect impact because:

1. Help Diversifying Your Profile

Usually, natural backlink profiles are diversified as they contain several follow and nofollow links. A diversified profile gets more attention than the ones containing more follow links. People find those weird and fishy.

So, the question arises whether it is good or bad to have more followed links? The answer is pretty simple. It’s always a good sign as long as there’s diversity. What you shouldn’t do is to keep 100% “dofollow” links as this will be a clear sign of manipulation.

2. Drive More Traffic

Links are not only useful for SEO purposes. They push the referral traffic too.

That's why we're so interested in Quora.

If you haven't heard of Quora before, it's a Q&A website where everyone can answer questions that people post. Within these responses, Quora makes it possible to connect to the relevant resources.

But all the outbound links at Quora are nofollowed. So, these are not affecting SEO. But this will drive more traffic to your site.

3. Leads To Follow Links Using No Follow links

What’s interesting is that you can use the nofollowed link discussed above to lead to a followed link. You can answer the questions of the users and attach the links of your profile or website.

For someone to link you, you need to remember this order.

  1. Users will see your content or post.
  2. They will enjoy the content.
  3. They will refer it to others.

As nofollow links help with the first step, they often act as a catalyst for followed links.

4. Help Avoiding Google Penalties

There are also some legitimate reasons to pay for links.

If a website gets loads of traffic, buying a sponsored post on that site will actually make sense. And if you pay good money for a feature, you'll probably want to provide a backlink so that readers can easily find your website.

But there's a problem. Google states that the paid links followed are in contravention of its Webmaster Guidelines.

We can see two groups in the SEO community. One thinks that Google can find the paid links algorithmically and the other thinks that it can’t. Even if the second one is true, you can’t buy and sell to your heart’s content.

Anyone can report and help Google to maintain the quality of the search results by using a tool developed by Google.

Reporting Tool
Tool developed by Google to report paid links

So, what we can conclude from this point is that you should fear your competitors more than Google. Your competitor, when they will see you ranking higher, can easily bring you down by using various tools to inspect your website and report the paid links. If they get tools like BacklinkSEO to get the insights of your company, why wouldn’t they report?

Another common question can be:

To Follow or Not To Follow?

For an SEO professional, the real question is whether to use follow links or nofollow links. Let’s find out:



How To Decipher Between Follow and No Follow Links?

If you’re using Google Chrome, go to the navigation bar and click View>Developer>View Source. Alternatively, right-click on the page you are browsing and hit Inspect Element. And if you’re using Mozilla Firefox, right-click and hit View Page Source.

Click on Edit>Find and search for “nofollow” in the search box. All the highlighted parts will be the nofollowed links of the page.

Inspecting Nofollow LInks

For SEO professionals who want to keep track of no follow links carefully and quickly, there are a lot of extensions available to download for Chrome and Firefox that will automatically highlight nofollow and dofollow links on the pages you visit.

For Firefox:

For Chrome:

Difference Between No Follow and No Index

The noindex link is a metatag that you apply to certain pages on your website. This tag tells search engines not to add a particular page to their index.

Noindex Links vs Nofollow Links
Noindex links

On the other hand, nofollow links tell search engines not to follow a specific link. So if you don't want an indexed page, the nofollow link won't function. Instead, use the noindex tag.

It’s Your Turn To Act

In the case of SEO, nofollow links play a vital part. We hope you got some useful insights on nofollow links and you can use it according to your company’s goals.

Remember to make nofollow links work for you not against you. Also, make a balance of dofollow and nofollow links to create a perfect profile. What are you waiting for? Get started with what you learned from this post.

Have more questions? Reach us at BacklinkSEO to monitor changes in your links and detect the heartbeats of your links while you focus on your business.

How to Check if a Link is Nofollow: Your SEO Queries Answered

In our other blog, we showed you how to check dofollow links. This one is for nofollow links. You actually don’t need extravagant coding knowledge to check if a link is nofollow or dofollow. In fact, the process is pretty much the same as the earlier one. So, follow these 3 effective ways to find the true nature of the links.

check if a link is nofollow

But before we do, here is a quick refresher on the topic. Feel free to skip if you already know them.

What is a Nofollow Link

If you are not sure about the credibility of a website, you add the nofollow link. This is a hint to the bots to not follow the link. When a nofollow link exists, the crawlers don’t crawl the hyperlinked site. Hence, no SEO strength or link equity flows to the linked site.

Therefore, in theory, nofollow links should not benefit your page rankings. But in practice, they do. Contrary to popular beliefs, nofollow links work behind the screen to boost your SEO efforts.

What is a Dofollow Link

Dofollow links are the nofollow counterparts. Dofollow links signal credibility. If you are confident about the credibility of a website, you add a dofollow link. Thus, the crawlers follow the link to the linked site. Such allows link juice to flow from the former site to the latter.

So, most of the link building effort revolves around building dofollow links. However, we suggest a healthy combination of dofollow and nofollow links in your website. The top-ranked Google pages usually have 20-40% nofollow links.

3 Ways to Check if a Link is Nofollow

1. View Page Source

The most used method to check if a link is nofollow or dofollow is inspecting the page source. Every link is, by default, a dofollow link. So, to understand nofollow links, you must be able to identify a dofollow link.

This is what a default page link looks like in theory.

<a href=”https://domain name”>anchor text</a>

For example: <a href="">link juice</a>

The only difference between nofollow and dofollow links is the rel attribute. As of now, there are three different rel attributes i.e. nofollow, sponsored, and UGC. These rel attributes allow Google to better identify the nature of the link.

So, here is an example of a nofollow link.

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>anchor text</a>

For example:

<a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="" target="_blank">MozBar</a>

Here, the rel tag noreferrer means that no information should pass to the linked website. Similarly, the rel tag noopener prevents the linked page to control the referring site. If all this information seems overwhelming to you, remember this quick trick.

Do you see a rel attribute that has “no” in it? If yes, then it’s a nofollow link. Tada!

Here’s How You Do it

Now moving on to how to inspect the page source. If you are in a Chrome tab, follow along.

1. Right-click on the hyperlink and click Inspect.

check nofollow link step 1 Inspect

2. A window containing codes will pop up to your right. The link will be highlighted automatically.

check nofollow link step 2 page source

The above image, as we see, is a dofollow link. Because we don’t see any rel attribute. Conversely, here is a live example of a nofollow link.

check nofollow link step 3

3. You can also find all the nofollow links on a page at once. With the source window open, press CTRL + F. A search window will pop up in the bottom. Now type “rel”. Afterward, you can find the nofollow links yourself.

search nofollow link in html inspection

Now if all these steps seem overwhelming to you, worry not! Here is an easy way to check if a link is nofollow using a backlink monitoring tool.

2. Backlink Monitoring Tools

The number of links grows proportionally with your website. Hence, it is a toilsome affair to manually monitor all the backlinks. To ease your backlink monitoring process, many backlink monitoring tools have mushroomed around the web. But not all are equally reliable.

Since you are reading our blogs, you can try BacklinkSEO. Sync your Google Analytics with the software and you are up. Here is how the BacklinkSEO dashboard looks like once you have synced the data.

BacklinkSEO dashboard

The software offers you a birds-eye view of your most important backlink profiles. On the left panel, you can find everything you need. Starting from dofollow and nofollow links, the software further offers website analytics, anchors, link status, top pages, domain data, and many more.

The No Follow tab displays all your nofollow links on a single page. You can even get further information about individual links too. As expected, you will also find your dofollow backlink status in the Do Follow tab.

3. Chrome Extensions

Another easy way to check if a link is nofollow is using Chrome extensions. We will show you a couple of ways to do so.

1. Visit the Chrome Web Store
2. Type “nofollow” in the search panel
3. Select Extensions

no follow chrome extension

4. Alternatively, you can use the MOZbar. Visit the Moz Products Section.
5. Download the Extension and Run it.

MOZbar highlights nofollow link

6. Clicking the Pen icon at the top left will reveal both the dofollow and nofollow links. The dofollow links will be highlighted with turquoise color. Similarly, the nofollow links will be highlighted pink

Final Words

To be honest, hundreds of software or extensions on the web will help you check if a link is nofollow and get you the same result every time. So, let us know if you know even easier or more effective methods! And do follow BacklinkSEO for more updates.

Does Google Crawl Nofollow Links? How Google Deals with Nofollow

In mid-2019, Google released two major updates on nofollow links. Previously, Google did literally what the name of the link suggested. Google did not follow nofollow links. Period. However, recent news stated that Google treats them as ‘hints’. So, does Google crawl nofollow links? Let’s see.

nofollow links and google logo

What are Nofollow Links

In 2005, search engines released this nofollow tags as a way to combat comment spam. However, the definition has evolved. Nofollow links signal the crawlers NOT to follow the hyperlinked website. Hence, no SEO strength passes to the linked site.

In theory, nofollow links do not contribute to your page rankings. However, these links can significantly contribute to your SEO efforts, if managed right. This is why the question of whether Google does crawl nofollow links or not, is important.

Google New Update about Nofollow links

Google’s official statement said that,

“For crawling and indexing purposes, nofollow will become a hint as of March 1, 2020.”

Initially nofollow links were basically signals. Apart from nofollow links, Google is introducing two new rel attributes. These rel attributes will help Google understand the true nature of the links.

Two New Link Attributes alongside Nofollow Links

1. rel=“sponsored”

As the name suggests, this link attribute will identify the sponsored or advertised links. Previously, nofollow links were used for this purpose. Now this sponsored rel attribute will signal Google that a link is not untrustworthy; rather it is just sponsored.

2. rel=“ugc”

UGC means User-Generated content. So, this link will identify the comments and forum posts generated by visitors. For a webmaster, it means that they can signal Google that they do not, in any form, endorse the link. Not because it is untrustworthy but because the link does not come from a credible source.

So does Google Crawl These Links?

As of now, Google declared to treat these links as hints. So what exactly is hint? With the help of the new links, site owners can send hints to Google that they do not completely endorse the generated links in their site. In other words, these links should not be given the same weight as first-party endorsement.

]Therefore, Google will be able to build a well-organized link architecture. Thus, it will also be better prepared to identify unorthodox links. Moreover, the relevance of the anchor text to the linked destination can be better judged.

Does Nofollow Links Affect your Page Ranking?

Ideally, no. As we said, Google does not actually crawl your website via nofollow links. Hence, no so-called signal or link juice is transferred to the linked site. Simply put, your page rank does not get affected.

But there is always a BUT. Nofollow links can open up opportunities for dofollow links. Nofollow links drive more referral traffic to your site. More traffic results to more user engagement and greater sales. Greater sales, in turn, lead to profitability and authority. Therefore, you still need to be careful about managing your nofollow links.

How to Use the New Nofollow Update by Google

Till now, webmasters haven’t been provided any incentive for using the new link attributes. The new links also seem to have no visible contribution to SEO. However, using these links wisely fashion may save you time and money.

Webmasters can now flag inappropriate ads or irrelevant sponsored links. Here is some more advice as to how to use Google nofollow update.

So, our answer? No. Google does not crawl nofollow links. Hence, they do not contribute to your page rankings directly. However, nofollow links are more significant than you think. They can play a vital role, if not direct, in your SEO efforts. Use nofollow links wisely, and you will reap the benefits in the long run.