All you need to know about Nofollow Links

By | July 8, 2015


A nofollow link, is a link with the rel=”nofollow” link attribute. Google has made it clear it likes to see a link from one site to another, as a genuine, unbiased, recommendation by the site owner. If a link isn’t, a genuine, unbiased, recommendation, it should be nofollowed, if you want to follow Google’s guidelines. Nofollowing a link means the link doesn’t improve the search engine rankings for the site it’s linking to.

What does a nofollow link look like?

Example of the html for a so-called dofollow link (link that hasn’t been nofollowed):

<a href="">Link text</a>

Example of a nofollow link:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Link text</a>

What does a nofollow link do?

First, let’s have a quick look at how Google search works:

Google uses “spider”, crawling bots, to follow links and index the pages that are found through those links.

Theoretically, adding a nofollow tag to a link tells the spider bot to not follow the link, and to not crawl the page found by this link. Some test, however, suggest this isn’t always 100% correct, and nofollowed links sometimes do get followed by spider. So, the “nofollow” tag can be compared to a “no-entry” traffic sign; if there’s no other alternative, you might enter.

But more importantly, Google’s spiders see that the links are nofollowed, and takes this into account when ranking websites. A link that is nofollowed, doesn’t pass PageRank, so nofollow links to your site shouldn’t make your site rank any higher.

What do I need to nofollow? And what gets nofollowed by default?

Should I nofollow affiliate links?

From what I understand, it’s not completely necessary, as Google has a way of figuring out a link is an affiliate link. I’m basing this on what I’ve heard Matt Cutts say in this interview.

Generally however, it’s a best practice to nofollow affiliate links, because they’re not a completely unbiased recommendation; you earn money from that link.

A lot of affiliate programs that use a link generator tool, or provide code for their banners, also ‘nofollow’ their affiliate links by default.

Do I have to nofollow affiliate links I create with the Pretty Link plugin?

Pretty Link is a popular plugin that lets you make and redirect links from your website. This plugin allows you to use shorter links that redirect to your (affiliate) link.
In the plugin itself, you can set the link you redirect to, to no-follow. Check the checkbox that says ” ‘Nofollow’ this link”, and click ‘Update’.


This means it’s not necessary to add the nofollow tag again, when using the short link you made with Pretty Link link in a WordPress post. It’d be a double measure to do so, but then again, there’s no harm in that either.

Which websites, and links are nofollowed automatically?

Almost all social media nofollow their links. Because you can place links on the social media website as a user, it means that a link on a social media site isn’t a genuine recommendation from that site to yours.

Social media

Social media that automatically nofollow all links you place yourself:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Youtube
  • Pinterest

Social media that doesn’t nofollow your links:

  • Tumblr

Tumblr is mix of a social media platform, and a blog. A blog, like a website, can definitely contain links that actually are a genuine, unbiased, recommendation, and therefore, links aren’t nofollowed by default.

Blog comment links

The link you can add in a blog comment on another blog, is automatically nofollowed for most blogging platforms that I know of. This includes WordPress blogs and websites.


Other notable sites that nofollows links

  • Wikipedia nofollows their links, because their pages can be edited by users.
  • Yahoo answers nofollows links that you can add in your answers; because it allows users to post their own links on their site.
  • Almost all forums nofollow links in their posts, because their content is also user-generated, so links aren’t a genuine, unbiased recommendation by the site owner.

Make it easier to make links nofollow in WordPress

Adding rel=”nofollow” to links you want to nofollow is an annoying process. You’ll have to switch to the ‘Text’ additor, and add the tag to the link HTML code. If you find yourself having to add nofollow tags like this often, you might want to use a plugin, that simply adds a check box that says ‘nofollow this link’ to the ‘Insert/edit link’ option in your visual editor. The plugin for this is called ‘Ultimate Nofollow’. Once installed, it’ll look like this:


How to identify nofollow and dofollow links on a website

If you’re using Google Chrome, simple right-click on a link, and then ‘inspect element’:


Now, the page code will be displayed; simply look for rel=”nofollow”.



To recap; nofollow links are links that don’t increase the PageRank of a page they’re linking to; so they won’t help your site rank higher in the search engines. You should nofollow every link on your site that isn’t a genuine, unbiased, recommendation. This means affiliate links, other advertising links, and most content that can be added by other users than yourself.

Don’t forget; getting nofollow links to your website can still be very useful! In the right places they’ll still drive traffic to your website, and in the end, that’s what really matters.

2 thoughts on “All you need to know about Nofollow Links

  1. Lin

    I have never used a nofollow link. Nor have I heard of it before. You have explained the concept very well but I have one question. Do I really need to be concerned about it if I am just starting a website?

    1. GuidoGuido Post author

      Well, you just made a nofollow link by putting your URL in the comment section :).

      If you’re just starting a website, don’t worry about it. It’s better to focus on creating content than on SEO details like this.


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