Five Situations Where You SHOULD Use NoFollow for Linking

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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.

Stop! Don't Follow!

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

This is kind of old school (like 12 months old school) but Matt Cutts and many others recommend using NoFollow when linking to a site’s Privacy Policy, Contact Us page, Login page, Register page and secure pages.

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?

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Adam Maywald

    Wow, the situations are pretty endless for more examples. For instance, award sites that give out their little badges – you should apply a nofollow to their badge if you display it on the site. The nofollow tag could be taken to the extreme on any website and I do think its a very good way to drill down spammy sites in competitive niches, where handjobs happen daily.

    What about the argument that linking out to other authorities within your vertical shows authority within your own site? That would be an interesting test.

  • WebSite Design Orange County

    There is going to be a break point on internal linking, is the linking useful to the user and the bots? Or is the linking set up in such a way as to just be beneficial to the bots. I’m guessing that the NoFollow tag itself isn’t a negative tag to use. But rather why you are using it and in which manner it’s being used.

    There are a few pages that, as Matt Cutts points out, don’t need to be indexed. Other pages on the site may also not have a need to be indexed and should also utilize the NoFollow tag.

  • Michael Martinez

    People need to give up on trying to justify bad advice like using Rel=”nofollow” for internal links. All you’re doing is telling crawlers not to follow links.

    If you have pages that you absolutely feel are getting too much PageRank (something which you cannot possibly measure), JUST PLACE LINKS TO OTHER PAGES on those poor, over-PageRanked pages.

    Use your most linked pages to point crawlers to your less-linked pages.

  • seo tips

    Dammed if you do…Dammed if you don’t. To use no follow or not to use no follow. Does it raise redflags that flag you as using SEO tactics.

    Personally, I like the idea. It puts more value on links with out the no follow tag,,,,,making them harder to come by.

    I am interested to revisit this subject in a few months to see what the buzz is.

  • Marcel Feenstra

    One “situation” you do not mention is the one for which the attribute was originally intended: links in unmoderated content (e.g., comments left by blog readers).

    I do feel, however, that you should only use “nofollow” if you do NOT moderate comments –using both moderation *and* “nofollow” is like wearing *two* link condoms… 🙂

  • Matt Cutts

    Less controversial, but good points..

  • Mukesh

    you once told that privacy policy and copyrights need not be nofollowed as presence of these pages on a site tells the engines that the site is a quality site that respects privacy rights and has quality copyrighted content.

    So which point should we talk? Nofollow or dofollow privacy & copyright pages?

  • SEO Design Solutions

    Hi Loren:

    I think it is important for many people to know that internal links and site architecture can contribute up to 80% of the ranking factors if formatted properly. Bleeding link juice as a result of not employing the no-follow on sidebars and CMS systems are one of the leading contributors to eeking out vital ranking power and directing it where you need it.

    I know the argument about external links vs. internal links is an argument worth revisiting, the fact is, if you structure your pages for a very competitive keyword and use off page and some on page factors alone. Compared to a lean, relevant internally linked CMS and then add external links, the one with superior architecture will dominate the SERPs. It is an important step, particularly when you hit the top 20 results for an extremely competitive term.

  • amelia

    am really new in this industry some words might not that familiar to me but this article really helps me some things about a bit of everything when we say SEO’s , linkings etc. The examples really helps for ranking factors of sites 🙂 in order cope up in competitive world. Am not really familiar with the “no follow” word but am hoping to know more about that someday 🙂

  • Local SEO Guide


    Re your point about never NoFollowing a link to the FAQ page, how do you feel about the situation when you are on a deep page and are attempting to channel PR to another deep page? The FAQ is in the footer (and likely boilerplate) and already gets a lot of internal links so do you think it’s that big a deal to nofollow it on a page like this?

  • SEO China

    What an impressive article.

    The thought of channeling link juice via strategic implementation of nofollows, is something certainly worth trying.

  • Adam

    I think, using no follow links is important as explained here for some cases but then again some sites take it too far.

  • Alex

    OK. I have a hyperthetical.
    P1 contains 2 identical links to P2:
    a link in the navegation bar, and a link in the content.

    Just say my anchortext for P2 is “Peach”

    is it worth nofollowing either of those links?
    if i do then im guessing that im distributing link juice more efficiently across my site.
    if i dont, then that means P2 has 1 less inlink with the anchortext “Peach”, which is surely detrimental to my efforts to rank highly for the term “Peach”

    am i making sense?

  • Paul

    On a site I have just taken over as administrator we’ve recently nofollowed nearly all outgoing links, as well as a whole load of other changes. (about 900 outbound links in the site.)

    We’ve now noticed we’re now in the top position for a lot of keyword combinations.

    Are next strategy was to remove the nofollow on sites with PR5 and above – just wondering after reading this blog if anyone has already tried this sort of tactic?

  • Tim

    Any advice on this? I have 3 separate websites that have unique content. I currently have ~ 75 relevant links back/forth between my 3 websites (I say relavant because the links are relevant to my readers). Is this a bad idea? Will Google think I am just spamming? Do you recommend I use ‘nofollow’? Your advice is appreciated.

  • Kai Lo

    I use Blogger and all the links are automatically on Nofollow. I just keep it the way it is just for simplicity.

  • Chris

    Thanks for the tips. I didn’t know anything about no following for internal links. This is helpful.

  • Mark

    The only link I do this with is my feedburner subscribe link. Also recently I have found sites that nfollow everything on their site apart from on the homepage and the page rank is still flowing around their site like normal. Those sites say something about the debate.. but I’m looking for more inut on it somewhere and somehow.

  • daddy design

    So I have a site, that sends out 1000’s of links. Is this really bad to do if I am not using a no follow?

  • Shubham

    Well thanks for the useful tips..! well the real effects of nofollow are very good.! Google gives low weightage to them.!

  • Tattoo's

    I'm only just learning the benefits of no follow linking. I'm currently building a site for tattoo's and will be using no follow links to the product i'm promoting. Don't want to waste my link juice. 🙂

  • Tattoo's

    I'm only just learning the benefits of no follow linking. I'm currently building a site for tattoo's and will be using no follow links to the product i'm promoting. Don't want to waste my link juice. 🙂

  • Debajyoti Banerjee

    I feel to keep links dofollow if they are beneficial for your users and if they are of good quality. Unnecessary putting nofollow for ALL external links make your site suspicious to search engines and also it hampers the overall link eco-system (DON’t compare yourself with Wikipedia as they are being treated by Google differently as they are already considered as highly trusted site, so it does not matter now for them if to prevent link spam they have made all external links nofollow). In this article it is written very well – “Use NoFollow when linking out to questionable sites or content”, not for ALL.

  • Action Figures

    I’m really just starting to understand the importance of nofollow links. There were quite a few links passing on juice but I’m applying nofollow to the ones that I feel aren’t really important anyway.
    Thank you for the tips!

  • Adam

    I don’t see why using no follow for internal linking would be bad. My site has a featured products section. It’s at the top of every page. They’re no follow because although my visitor may want to click on a product to check it out while reading a blog article, the search engine won’t gain any benefit from having to re follow the same link from every page. If anything, it’s cutting down on their crawl and saving them money.

    Right or wrong, it makes business and technical sense to me.