I recently saw a poll in a private Facebook Group where many people voted that nofollow links can help rank a site because of the anchor text. Can nofollow anchor text help rankings?
Take note that in September 2019, a few months after this article was published, Google made a substantial change to how nofollowed links are handled. Beginning in September 2019, Google is treating the nofollow link attribute as a hint. What that means is that Google may or may not obey the nofollow attribute.
Previously Google treated nofollows as a directive, meaning that Google would obey the nofollow and drop the link from the link graph and not count it for link purposes.
Read more about Google nofollow hints:
Anchor Text Without Links
There are two theories floating around about how nofollow links help a site rank.
The first theory states that a nofollow link will get republished by a spammer and that the spammer might make it a dofollow link.
That’s correct. But that argument assumes that a few spam links will make a meaningful impact on rankings.
For ranking keywords that matter, keywords that make money, no, absolutely no. A few spam links will not help a site rank.
The second theory suggests that search engines will pick up the anchor text and use that for ranking. There are many problems with that guess about what Google does.
And let’s make it clear, that theory is purely just a guess. There is nothing to support that idea.
- There is no research.
- There are no patents.
- There are no statements from Google that anchor text from nofollow links are used.
There is ZERO basis for the theory that Google uses anchor text from nofollow links for ranking purposes. It’s one of those ideas that are pulled straight out of the air, like the idea that the moon is made out of cheese.
There is nothing, zero, to substantiate the idea of nofollow anchors being a ranking factor. ZERO.
Links and the Link Graph
Nofollow links are dropped from the link graph. The Link Graph is the map of the Internet.
The nofollow removes the link from existence. It does not exist for Google.
This has always been the case. John Mueller is on record stating this as far back as 2012:
“We take these links out of our PageRank calculations, and out of our algorithms when they use links.”
Nofollow Anchor Text are Just Words
Google takes it out of the PageRank calculation. And that includes the anchor text and this is why:
Because the link that the anchor points to does not exist for Google, the anchor text becomes words, just words.
Words are Not Links
Nofollow anchor text like “click here” and “Best SEO” become words when Google removes the links from them. They are no longer anchor text. They are just words, disconnected from any site since there is no link associated with it.
So how could Google use words as anchor text when there is no link associated with them?
Setting aside the fact that there are no patents and no research papers about using nofollow anchor text for ranking, the whole idea of using words (without links) as anchor text does not make logical sense.
Those words are disconnected from the link (because there is no link) and because of that they are disconnected to the website that the link points to… because there are no links.
Google has even made a video dedicated to explaining that nofollow links do not help rank a site in any way.
The idea that nofollow anchor text can influence rankings makes zero sense in at least three different ways. It’s on the same level as a belief in fairy tales.
Watch the video here
- When Do You Use Nofollow on Links?
- Will Nofollowed Internal Links Impact Your SEO?
- Google’s John Mueller: No Benefit to Marking All Outbound Links as Nofollow
- SEO Community Responds to Google’s Nofollow Advice