The NoFollow Tag – When and How to Use it to Prevent Google from Penalizing You

There are some website owners that use black hat techniques in their SEO practices. These include, but are not limited to techniques such as cloaking, keyword stuffing and other dubious SEO practices. Such techniques give the offending websites value in SEO which they do not deserve since they are not offering anything of value to anyone.

In other words, search engines consider links to be votes that pass credit onto other web pages. Needless to say, such antics are frowned upon by most search engines, to say the least.

But what is a website owner to do if their online articles had informative content but also include a sizeable number of backlinks that point visitors to different websites? You don’t want Google to think that your website is selling links. And this is where NoFollow links can come in handy.

What, Why& How?

What are NoFollow Links?

These links were the brainchild of search engine giant Google. They work like this; the links allow websites, online articles or blogs to post or display links, however, the links cannot pass on any SEO capabilities on the content that they are posted on.

Why Should you Care?

Putting nofollow links on outbound links on a website allows a website owner to assure search engines that his content will benefit his end users. In addition, the presence of such links also assures Google and other major search engines about the ethical nature of your practice. In addition, websites that use nofollow links and have a few outbound links also rank well if the links are used appropriately. You only need to know how.

How to Use them?

In general, NoFollow tags are simple pieces of HTML that, once appended to hyperlink allow website owners the chance to allow or prohibit search engines from following certain links.

Let’s explain this with an example. A NoFollow link would look something like this:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Your anchor text will go here.</a>

The link above simply incorporates a nofollow link through the text rel="nofollow". That is all there is to it.

When can you Use them?

NoFollow links are basically designed to curb link spamming especially in the comments sections of blogs. And as mentioned there might also be instances in which you may want to link to a website but do not want to transfer any “Google Juice” to it.

Keep the Google Juice for yourself

What is Google juice? The reason that Google views links to other websites is a stamp of approval to show that the websites in questioned include quality content. The higher these web pages are in PageRank, the more influence their links will have.

While linking to other websites might seem the neighborly thing to do, there can be times where you aren’t feeling so charitable. In cases such as these, NoFollow can help if you do not want to transfer any Google juice to other websites.

When linking to Questionable Websites

You can’t prevent some bad eggs from latching onto your website. While search engines like Google shouldn’t hold you responsible for websites that link onto your own, they may decide to penalize it if the offending links include content that is of poor quality. Other reasons why Google might penalize you in such situations are if the links are not relevant to your website’s theme, are part of a link exchange scheme or come from unsavory sources.

The most obvious course of action to prevent something like that from happening is to prevent your website from accepting links from websites if there are no backlinks involved. If you absolutely have to initiate the nofollow process, all you have to do is to add rel=”nofollow” to the link code. This will prevent search engines from penalizing you.

For Paid Links

Sponsored links can adversely affect your PageRank if they are not handled correctly. Here is what Google has to say about paid links and nofollow tags, “In order to prevent paid links from influencing search results and negatively impacting users, we urge webmasters use nofollow on such links.”

Affiliate or advertising links offer webmasters payment to offer their links or pay commissions for any sales that a visitor makes after he follows the link. Any website that passes PageRank from a paid link can be considered as spam by Google and be removed from the search engine’s database. Such practices are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines after all.

For example, if you are adding a paid link, reviewing a product or sponsoring a post, you can always add a nofollow code with a statement of disclosure in the post. Remember, there are some links that may look like they are sponsored even though they might not be. For example, linking to big name brands like Amazon can make the links look sponsored by search engines. Add nofollow tags to them and no search engine will question their purpose.

However, the search engine is interested in links that display the value of any linked sites for their own ends rather than as a source of financial gain.

If you are accepting money to add textlinks to another page, its best that you clarify that your page will be a nofollow to the person who is paying you. If Google suspects that you are adding links from websites that have a habit of being spammy, you will be penalized. The results will be devastating. For one, your web pages will be lower in Google’s search results. In addition, your online business will get less traffic and your blog will lose its marketable value. That is not something you want happening if your online activities are also your only source of income!

Blog Comments

Websites and publishers often tag their blog comments as NoFollow so that search engines pass over links that might have been posted by users. The technique is basically used to prevent spammers from publishing links on your website on the sly. Expect link drops if your blog allows comments without moderation.

Link to Competitors

You definitely want to stick a nofollow tag on a link or website that is competing for the same search keywords as your own especially of you need to link to it. The last thing you need to do is help them out.

User Generated Content

User generated content is similar to blog comments. It works like this; if you allow someone the chance to contribute content to your own website without moderation, a nofollow tag can spare your website from being seen as it were vouching for links from questionable websites.


Use nofollow tags in your links if you add infographics or links from other online sources or websites. You do not want to seem like you are endorsing them especially if you are not responsible for their content.

Why Google is concerned about such issues is apparent. Embeds such as infographics and widgets offer website owners an easy way to generate links. Such a convenience can also be abused. How? The links in question might in turn contain more links that link to third parties.

Privacy Pages

You will want to save up on the crawl budget that you are given for a website. While you can noindex your privacy pages, a better course of action would be to nofollow each link. A simple action such as this is all it takes for you to assure bots that you have no interest in promoting the pages in search engines.

When not to use NoFollow

The About Us Page

When it comes to initiating NoFollow links, knowing when you shouldn’t do so is just as important as when you should not. Experts recommend that the action should not be used on About Us pages. Remember, the About Us page on your website is one of its most important. Not only does it brief visitors on what your website is about it also lists relevant info that allow visitors to do business with you like your business’s address or phone number.

In addition, you are more likely to use industry specific terms in your About Us page more as compared to other pages. Such tactics are useful in picking up some targeted customers that use search engines through term such as these. Needless to say, it’s a good idea if you don’t NoFollow such pages. The same goes for your FAQ page. In addition, avoid adding NoFollow tags to every link on your website. You only want to increase the page rank of each internal page.

Sculpt PageRank

When NoFollow was first introduced by Google, a popular SEO process allowed SEOs to sculpt PageRank. In other words, the practice involved adding links to sites that were not actual links of the pages that they were ranked for. In theory, it worked like this; adding a nofollow tag to one link in a page with 10 links would end up redistributing 10% of the link juice to the rest of the nine links. This created a mess to say the least. Such a technique looks unnatural to search bots.

A Word to the Wise

The old adage “you can’t have too much of a good thing” rings true for nofollow tags. In other words it’s best that you be careful in how you use the tags. If your links have too many nofollow tags, they might be flagged as spam by Google or other search engines. Too many nofollow links can also be a sign of link manipulation. Needless to say, it pays to exercise caution where you use them. Not only will this help you avoid penalizations and spammers, it will help you rank your pages better on PageRank.

Comment spam used to be a cheap trick that allowed websites to boost their rank in the days when Google was just a fledgling and spreading its wings. A lot of webmasters still use unethical means or linking techniques to post comments on online blogs. Such a technique comes with negative repercussions. It leeches PageRank from the website where the blogs are posted. In addition, it allows visitors the chance to visit the links. The fact that the links might be dubious in nature or hold questionable content is another point of concern.

NoFollow tags aim to put a stop to that and to decrease the number of webmasters that use such techniques for their own ends. The fact that NoFollow tags do not allow other websites to link to your own does not mean that the tags are not valuable at all. On the contrary the technique has yielded plenty of traffic for web masters who know how to use them. And besides, a no follow link is better than none at all.

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  1. I am using it for some links – who ask to use the same keyword. Then after many months they ask every publishers to remove the link or nofollow their link.

    If you are getting traffic to your blog or products you sell online from a link(nofollow) is good for both the publishers and advertisers !

    • Great post. Thank you very much

  2. “nofollow” is not a tag – it’s just a “A” tag attribute

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