Google’s John Mueller cleared up a misconception about whether there’s a ranking benefit to marking all outbound links as nofollow.
This topic came up during a recent Google Webmaster Central hangout where this question was asked:
“What do you think about the practice of some big publishers tagging all outgoing links with rel=nofollow?
From what I know, the reasoning behind this is that with follow links you would leak link juice and then rank worse.”
Mueller didn’t mince words in his response, saying flat out this assumption is “definitely wrong.”
In fact, using a nofollow attribute on all outgoing links may even cause problems over time because it’s an unnatural way of linking to web pages.
Here is Mueller’s response:
“So that’s definitely wrong. It’s definitely not the case that if you use normal links on your website that you would rank any worse than if you put nofollow on all outgoing links.
I suspect it’s even, on the contrary, that if you have normal linking on your page then you would probably rank a little bit better over time – essentially because we can see that you’re part of the normal web ecosystem.
So it’s definitely not the case that you have any kind of ranking advantage by marking all outgoing links as nofollow.”
Why Do Some Sites Use Rel=Nofollow on All Links?
Back to the original question – Mueller recognizes that some sites do use the nofollow attribute on all outgoing links.
They do this, he says, to stay on the safe side. The publications may not know which links to vouch for, so they nofollow everything.
Mueller says that’s problematic because publishers should be able to stand behind what they’re writing about.
His response is continued below:
“I understand not knowing which links you can trust. But essentially, if you’re a news publisher, you should trust what you’re writing about.
Or you should be able to understand which part of the content that you write about is actual content that you want to have indexed–that you want to stand for.
If these are things that you want to stand for then make sure you have normal links on there.”
Hear Muller’s full statement in the video below, starting at the 55:13 mark: