Nofollow: When and When Not to Use Them

The nofollow attribute was brought about back in 2005, yet, although that was 13 years ago, there is still confusion over it. This is a little puzzling since it has not changed since it was started. This article is going to help clear things up a bit. We are going to go over what the nofollow attribute is exactly, detail the importance of nofollowed links, and then cover when nofollow links should and should not be used.

So first, a little bit of history. Nofollow link were created in the early 2000s. Back then everybody that did SEO knew that links were part of Google’s algorithm, and to rank better, people misused links. They just made links in every way possible. So with spam getting worse and worse, Google decided to do something about it. The answer was the nofollow attribute. The premise was that you could let Google know that you did not want them to include this link when they were judging your site’s incoming links.

Nofollow links can not get past PageRank, a Google only evaluation of the quality and quantity of links. So, on one hand, Google can not chastise you for linking to a site that is of low quality. They also can not yell at you for linking out too much. Now, on the other hand, this means that a link from your site does not bear any worth to other sites. That means you are a lot less likely to be included if you are launching a new product or releasing something else new and exciting, unless you already have a large following.

Here are a few good guidelines to follow for when to nofollow links and when to allow them. First, links in forums or comments. These are almost always going to be spam. Even when the site is explicitly moderated, things will still get through so it is best to just play it safe. Anything that is sponsored or is meant to be an advertisement should always be nofollowed. Links in press releases have been way over used and should be nofollow, a lot of press release sites do it anyway. Paid links, too, always nofollow them.

You can allow followed links with authors, guest posters, and interviewees, but just exercise some caution with who you allow. It is only safe to do if you know the person, or they have posted on your site quite a bit before, or whose site is one that you trust. Make sure you vetted out any one that you allow. It does not help you any if the links that get allowed turn out to be shady.

Hopefully this helps you get a better grasp on when to nofollow and when not to. Just be as natural as possible, if you want to link a site and are not obligated or being forced to, then go ahead and do it. But if you are being paid or the site just does not deserve it, then make it nofollow.