Phoenix Website Design – Understanding the “NoFollow” Attribute

In another post, I blogged about What Is the Purpose of Internal Linking? Is it Important for SEO? and I even talked about The Best Practices for Internal Links. However, there is still a cause of confusion, and that is the nofollow attribute.

Even though, it was introduced in 2015. Many people in the industry still gets confused over this attribute on links. Do we add this nofollow or not? Is it really important to begin with?

man holding his chin looking at his laptop

Google’s Nathan Johns of Google said that the nofollow attribute has not changed ever since. So, why are people confused? To clear things up, I created this post. Hopefully, this will shed some light on the true value of the “nofollow” links.

What is a “Nofollow” Attribute?

Baically, the “nofollow” will tell search engines NOT to “follow” a specific link. Ideally, it is used in instances when you aren’t sure of that link. You do not “endorse” it in any way.

So, should you “nofollow” links?

Whether a link is internal (within a website) or external (outside a website), it is still a vote of confidence. This means that you trust it enough to become a source of information.

Over the years, search engine acknowledge the fact that there are times that you need to link a page. However, you are NOT sure if:

  • The link is something you can trust.
  • It’s something you can control or monitor. For instance, the links in the comments section.
  • Links are tagged as “selling links” by search engines. At time, a harmless link ad can be mistaken as a shady link.

Thus, to address these issues present, search engines – not just Google – recognized the need for a “nofollow” attribute. Once you tick the ‘nofollow’ option, it is a way of telling the search engines that this link is not exactly a “vote of confidence”. I am merely linking the source of information, but it does not mean that I automatically trust the website.

If you want to know more about the “nofollow” link, refer to this help page regarding outbound links.

Here are some guidelines on when to “nofollow” an internal link:

  • When you are linking a page that is not accessible to many people such as a page that needs login credentials.
  • If it goes to a page that is not essential in the grand scheme of things. For instance, it is merely a page for all the references or a list of compiled works.
  • If it is a tag page. Generally, people rank for the actual pages and not the tag pages.

As a conclusion, if you are ticking the “nofollow” attribute on your internal links, that’s totally fine.  In terms of internal links, there’s nothing to worry about since there’s no obvious gains or penalties either. At the end of the day, it’s about what you prefer to do.

Still, nofollow links matter.

Use the “nofollow” attribute when you want to tell Google that you would NOT want to associate your website with this linked page. Thus, Google cannot penalize you for providing links to a shabby website.