Yesterday Eric brought up the NoFollow attribute and his theory about it setting off red flags at search engines for them to look deeper into a site’s SEO practices, theory being if someone is savvy enough to use NoFollow to harness the flow of linkjuice through their site by ‘nofollowing’ links to internal pages, what else are they savvy about?
Well, arguments aside (there are 30 comments on that post) I thought I’d take a look at situations where a NoFollow should be used for linking out, besides for paid links as suggested by Google.
First and foremost, your search marketing efforts build the incoming links and link juice which help lend authority and ranking to your site. Think of linkjuice as your juice, your property, and sometimes there is nothing wrong with sharing that property with the right people, and letting the ‘wrong people’ go thirsty.
Use NoFollow when linking out to ScanAlert’s HackerSafe, Better Business Bureau or Verisign.
Ok, I’ll say it. If I’m going to pay HackerSafe for the rights to use their button on my site, I’m not going to send them any link juice. Why not? They have enough link juice to go around and they have been known to use that link juice to power questionable linking tactics.
Giving HackerSafe linkjuice is like selling paid links in the bizarro world. “I pay YOU to put your link on my site!”
If you feel paying HackerSafe to put their button on your site increases trust in your site and conversions, that’s fine. But leave it at that. Protect your linkjuice, HackerSafe won’t miss it… according to Yahoo they already have over 95 million incoming links.
The same goes with the Better Business Bureau and other *trust* oriented badges which you have to pay for to place on your site.
Use NoFollow when linking out to you Feedburner RSS feed
Someone at Feedburner may take this the wrong way and I hope they do not because they are an incredible company and part of the Google family, but linking out organically to Feedburner does not only give them some of your juice, but it also could lead to duplicate content issues.
Your blog feed is your lifeline, but it also copies the text of your blog. Furthermore, I can’t count the amount of times I’ve searched for something or a blog in Google and found a blog’s Feedburner feed listed before the blog itself.
If you’re worried about duplicate content and your blog’s rankings, you may want to look into using a NoFollow on your Feedburner link.
Use NoFollow when linking out to questionable sites or content
While blogging, on occasion I tend to cover some spam sites or questionable marketing or link farm sites which I feel should be linked to, but in this case I want to put a condom on this link to make sure that I’m not passing PageRank and that there is no link association between my site and theirs. In this instance, I use a NoFollow. You may want to also.
Also, keep this in mind for linking out to your competition ;)
Use NoFollow when linking to internal pages that don’t need PageRank
I recommend not using NoFollow on your About Us page because About Us is one of the most important pages on your site and usually lists local relevant info like your address or phone number. Plus, you’re more likely to use industry jargon to describe your company via an About Us page which should pick up some very targeted users via searches for these keyterms. And NEVER NoFollow an FAQ page.
Use NoFollow when linking to the same page many times from one page.
This is my own theory so please bear with me.
If I have a site and its FAQ page has numerous links to internal pages like About Us or specific service pages, such as more than one link to each page, I feel it would it make sense to NoFollow the second and third link so it does not look like that site is trying to unload multiple internal links to the same internal page in an effort to make that internal page rank higher (under outdated link popularity schools of thought) under an internal authority page like FAQ.
In the past, I’ve seen internal rankings increase when we take the multiple links out, and decrease with multiple links using different anchor text (ie. Click Here, More Information, Blue Widgets).
But in this case, I’d think using NoFollow would make the FAQ page look like it is only directing one link to an internal page while also addressing those link popularity driven usability standards which say we should include multiple links to one page from one page. Make sense?
What Other Situations Should You Use a NoFollow Attribute for controlling the flow of internal or external link juicy PageRank?