Why use the Nofollow tag for search engine optimization?
It is vital when linking to any untrusted sources, where not using this attribute may result in a severe authority loss.
So, let's get straight to the point.
What is a Nofollow tag?
Back in the day, it was common to rely on the basic nofollow attribute for all types of links the website didn't want to associate with, whether it's sponsorship or advertisement links, links to shady websites or unauthorized self-promotion in user-generated content (comment sections, blog posts), etc.
However, going forward, the situation started shifting.
- rel="sponsored" - for paid links (sponsorships, advertising, and other paid collaborations);
- rel="ugc" - for links in user-generated content, including forum posts and comment
Does it mean that now you have to immediately replace all the basic nofollow attributes with new tags for old sponsored/ugc links?
No, the good-old nofollow attribute still works. But from now on, keep that recommendation in mind.
First, it can allow you to give directions to search robots regarding the entire website page if you use the following line of code:
Alternatively, the nofollow attribute can be placed into the HTML <a> tag, as seen in this example:
It can be used on its own, or in combination with newer "ugc" and "sposored" tags.
How does the Nofollow tag affect the website ranking?
Some experts believe that since nofollow links don't directly affect website rankings, there's no point in getting them.
Others claim that they are still valuable for website promotion, despite them not passing on the link juice.
Well, it's not that simple.
Since 2020 Google might take into account the nofollow links, and use them as suggestions or, as they call it,"hints" for crawling, indexing, and ranking.
So for the search engine, this attribute is more of a recommendation, not a strict rule it has to comply with.
Google may still choose to completely ignore the nofollow links, but in some cases, they might have an indirect impact on website authority.
- distribute your content, generate more links and brand awareness, and get more traffic to your website;
- achieve a more natural and diverse link profile (if it only consisted of dofollow links, search engines could find it suspicious);
If you regularly receive links from popular sites with good reputation, even if they're nofollow, you can still gain more trust from search engines, despite ranking signals not being directly transferred.
Although, that could only work if you do it smartly, and in moderation. Google's algorithms are getting smarter and smarter every day, so using any black hat SEO will not get you far in the long run.
When to use the Nofollow tag:
The basic nofollow tag, that was previously recommended, still works. Now you can also use the more recent rel="ugc", or a combination of two values.
When NOT to use the Nofollow tag:
Such links are dedicated to distributing the link juice between the site pages, and make the website promotion more efficient. The Nofollow tag in the HTML code would make internal linking far less effective, if not useless.
How to detect nofollow links
So, let's take a look at ways of finding such external and internal links.
Checking the code of the page
In the following example, all links on the page get ignored by crawlers:
Find external nofollow links with Serpstat
This instrument will allow you to see the list of website links, their anchors, and types: nofollow, dofollow, UGC, or sponsored. This report is not just a dofollow/nofollow checker tool, you will also get the data on the website's Domain Rank, which is Serpstat's alternative to PageRank, the target pages the backlinks lead to, and a ton of other useful backlink data.
This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
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What is a nofollow link?
It’s a link with a nofollow attribute, which indicates to the search engine that the link should not be followed by the search bot, and the PageRank should not be transferred. It can be assigned to any website you want to link to but don’t want to be associated with.
Why is nofollow important?
Linking to untrusted low-quality websites significantly decreases the authority of your website, and therefore, has a negative impact on your rankings in search results.
What is a sponsored tag?
Sponsored tag is an attribute recommended for advertising, sponsorship, and other paid links on the website.
What is an ugc tag?
UGC stands for user-generated content, so the ugc attribute is meant for users’ comments, forum posts, reviews or any other sections where unwanted links may appear.
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