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NoFollowed Links: What They Are and When To Use Them

SEO | 7th May 2014

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Video Transcript

Hello. Today, I am going to be talking about no followed links, basically a little bit about what they are and most importantly when to use them.

Now, when a site links to another site, by default that link flows PageRank from the first site to the next. It essentially is a vote. It’s the first site saying that I trust this site enough to link to it from my own. So it flows that PageRank through. By no following a link, by adding the rel=”nofollow” code, you are saying that I don’t trust this site, or I don’t want PageRank to flow from site to the next or one page to the next.

Here are a few reasons why you might do that. The first and possibly most common is paid or incentivised links. So if you have paid for that link to be there or you have paid for an article to be on a certain site, and it might not be a financial payment, it might be an incentivised link, so perhaps you have given a free product for someone to review, then you want that link to be no followed. The reason for that is that otherwise it can look like an unnatural attempt to manipulate PageRank. It’s looking like you have for paid someone to link to your site to get some of their PageRank, and you don’t want to look to Google like you’re trying to manipulate that. So you basically flag up the link and say, “No, I don’t want the PageRank to flow. This link is there for the user. It’s for referral traffic.”

Another example is site-wide links. Again, if you’ve got a link coming from a site, that’s coming from every single page of that site, so that might be in the footer, maybe a blog roll link, or something like that, then you don’t want PageRank to flow from all of those pages because it looks, again, like you’re trying to manipulate that PageRank, that by having a link come through from not just one page, but all the pages of a site, that you are trying to steal as much PageRank as you can. So you just want to make sure that that is not to flow PageRank, that you flag it up as no followed to make sure that Google knows it’s just there for the user journey.

Similarly, we have got cross-linking. Now, this is where you interlink domains that you control. So it might be that you have a group site and you have sub-divisions and different sites that are all part of the same company or all part of the same group. You wouldn’t want to have links to each of those sites that were followed, that flowed PageRank, because that’s a clear attempt to manipulate PageRank to Google. So, by no following them, again you’re just saying, “This is for the user journey”. It’s for the user benefit. It’s perfectly natural for us to want to link to each of these sites, but we don’t want PageRank to flow. So you no follow that link.

Lastly, and this sort of encompasses everything else, untrusted links, untrusted domains. If you are going to link to a domain that, for whatever reason, you don’t trust, you’re not voting for it, but you need to link to it for the content that you’re writing, then you can just add the rel=”nofollow” tag and make sure that that PageRank doesn’t flow from your site. It means that you’re not giving them the PageRank that you’ve earned, that you don’t trust them enough to give them. So anything that you feel is worthy of no following, no follow it as a precaution. The only time you wouldn’t no follow, if it’s natural link and you trust the site and you are linking to them as a vote for that site’s quality, then don’t no follow it. But if you don’t trust that site and you have got to link to them for some other reason, then it’s worth no following it to make sure that you don’t get in trouble for looking like you’re trying to manipulate rankings. Also, it means they won’t get into trouble for the same thing.

So no followed links are a bit of a bone of contention at the moment, and there is a lot of talk about when and why to use them. But, as a rule of thumb, you don’t need to no follow every link. Just make sure that if it fits into any of these categories or if you’re not sure that it’s going to look unnatural or manipulative, then no follow it as a precaution.

Thank you very much for your time, and please follow us with the social profiles at the end.

About the author

Emma North

Emma has more than 5 years’ digital marketing experience and has worked on dozens of websites in a wide range of industries. She has a passion for both SEO and PPC and is driven by the need to develop her digital skills and knowledge. She is always exploring innovative solutions for new problems encountered in the ever-changing digital world.

Technical SEO

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