Last updated on: January 4, 2024 at 4:32 pm

NoFollow Link: What Is It & How to Use It

what is nofollow link

If you want your pages or website to be optimized, one of the essentials you should know is about nofollow links. Several nofollow rel attributes can be utilized in HTML. These are essential because Google includes these in calculating the PageRank SEO value. This

What is a follow link?

Links that instruct search engine crawlers to follow a hyperlink are known as “follow link” or “inbound links.” 

Do-follow links are another name for them. Crawlers note this form of incoming link since it indicates a worthwhile and relevant resource. When crawlers follow a link, they are instructed to credit the linked website.

Each “vote” for trustworthiness that a linked page obtains from other pages is equivalent to one follow link. The more votes a page receives, the more likely it is to rise in the SERPs.

Essentially, the author finds your page beneficial and vouches for it. Inbound links from these sources are the best of the best. As a result of their presence, you’ll be attracting site visitors and search engine crawlers alike.

This is an example of the follow link:

<a href="">Anchor Text Goes Here</a>

What is a nofollow link?

Nofollow attributes in the HTML tag inform crawlers not to follow certain links, unlike “do follow.” Google will not follow any links with the nofollow property, signaling that the website does not support the link.

It was in 2005 that Google offered the rel= “nofollow” option for blogs that struggled with spammy comments from individuals attempting to generate connections to rank for certain keywords. Since then, Google has encouraged the use of the sponsored links attribute.

This is an example of a nofollow link:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Anchor Text</a>

How to know if a link is a nofollow?

Here are the steps for you to know if a link is a nofollow

  1. On your browser, hit right-click and head to “View page source.”
  2. Locate the page’s HTML.
  3. If there is a rel=” nofollow” attribute, your link is a nofollow. If you do not see one, your link is a do-follow.

The difference between follow links and no follow links

HTML element difference

No, follow links are a new breed of backlinks. As for readers, they perceive the same things as the follow link. When people click on it, a new tab or window will appear. Only by examining the HTML element can the difference be discovered.

No credibility points for nofollow links

It’s also worth noting that nofollow links don’t gain any credibility points. These links are considered untrustworthy by search engines. Regardless of the rationale, the connecting site refuses to vouch for the favored page. As a result, people don’t click on the link.

Nofollow links are taken as hints

“Nofollow” characteristics are now considered “hints” rather than “directions” by Google in 2019. According to Google, crucial info is not lost, but we can still allow site owners to specify that specific links should not be given the weight of a first-party endorsement” by transitioning to a hint model. “

Hence, the three major differences between dofollow and nofollow links can be summarized as follows:

  • DoFollow Links do not have a rel=nofollow attribute
  • Search engine crawlers do not give regard to nofollow links
  • Nofollow links do not impact a website’s rankings

Why Nofollow tags were created

Comment spam became more prevalent as blogs gained in popularity. Spammers would do this by including links to their websites in the comments. To counteract blog comment spam, Google implemented the nofollow tag.

The nofollow tag was developed by Google in 2005 and was used in their algorithm then. Other search engines eventually adopted the tag (like Bing and Yahoo). This is because spammy websites began to rise in Google’s search results.

As a result, reputable websites were demoted in the search engine rankings. Hence, due to the strategy’s success, blog comment spam rapidly became an epidemic.

Will Google penalize you for not using Nofollow?

Google generally does not penalize websites for not using nofollow links, though they may take into account the quality and relevance of a website’s links when determining its rankings.

However, if a website is found to be linking to low-quality or irrelevant websites, then that could have an impact on its rankings.

It is always best practice to use nofollow links when appropriate, as this can help ensure that the website is sending the right signals to search engines and not inadvertently affecting its rankings in a negative way.

Effects of nofollow links on SEO performance

The nofollow link tag was created to combat link spam. However, Google is now utilizing the attribute as a hint rather than a mandate. Nofollow links improve your SEO both directly and indirectly.

Direct benefit

When Google doesn’t consider the nofollow link attribute, the link will help your SEO efforts. It is a fact that no-follow links from high-authority sites may still be considered an indicator of authority, regardless of link authority.

Indirect benefit

You’re looking for website visitors more inclined to make a purchase. Your visitors may come from Google, but they may also come from a related page on another website. Hence, a link might still bring in traffic, even if it’s a nofollow link.

Importance of nofollow links in SEO

Nofollow links have a purpose in SEO that extends far beyond their impact on PageRank. These links are significant since they provide visitors to your site and build brand awareness, which can result in dofollow links.

These are some of the benefits of nofollow links.

  • They drive traffic to your sites coming from other sites.
  • By boosting your online business’ mentions, awareness is increased of your brand.
  • Your backlink profile looks more natural while utilizing solely do-follow links can be suspicious regarding algorithms.
  • These can soon become do-follow links wherein web admins notice your content, allowing more links to your site.
  • Website trust and credibility can be improved through citation flow and domain authority.

Should all external links be Nofollowed?

No, not all external links should be nofollowed. The main purpose of using nofollow links is to tell search engines that a website does not endorse the content of the linked page. That being said, there are certain scenarios in which it may be beneficial to include nofollowed links.

For example, if you are linking to a page that is not relevant to your content or is of poor quality, then it is best to nofollow the link. Additionally, if you are linking out to an external site and want to use the link for traffic purposes but don’t want to pass along any ranking power, then a nofollow link would be ideal.

Also, if you are linking to an external page that contains affiliate or sponsored content, then it is recommended to use a nofollow link. Ultimately, while there may be some benefits to using nofollow links for external pages, it should not be done indiscriminately, as this could have negative effects on your SEO strategy.

When should a Nofollow be used?

Nofollow was initially used if you do not want PageRank to notice a certain link. This time, its use has evolved when sponsored, UGC rel attributes are no longer relevant, and you do not want it to be passed into PageRank.

Google identified two new link attributes in September 2019. These provide webmaster alternatives to identifying the nature of various links. The HTML attributes of rel=” UGC” and rel=” sponsored outbound links can now be specified in new methods.


UGC stands for User-Generated Content. In other words, this is recommended for the content which is generated by the user, such as forums and comments. Removing this attribute from the links is allowed if the content comes from contributors you recognize and trust.

This is what it should look like:

<a href="" rel="ugc">Anchor text</a>

Rel=” sponsored”

The rel=”sponsored” is for “sponsored” content such as affiliate links, advertisements, or other links exchanged for goods or money. This is the best way to ask for links if there is some form of payment behind it.

Google recommends using rel= “nofollow” as follows: Use the nofollow value when other values don’t apply, and you’d prefer Google not to associate your site with the linked page or crawl it from your site. (Use robots.txt for links within your site, as indicated below.)

This is what a link should look like:

<a href="" rel="sponsored">Anchor text</a>

Ways to avoid the unnatural outbound penalty

The “unnatural outbound links penalty” might be applied to your page if it contains low-quality or infringing external links that visitors click on. To receive this penalty, the search engine must detect an “unusual or irrelevant pattern of links” on your page.

To avoid the outbound penalty, adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Do not link to spam or low-quality websites.
  • Default to nofollow or UGC for all user-generated content.
  • If you have guest posts, check the links in them.

 How to manually add nofollow links

There are several steps to add nofollow links in WordPress manually, and the steps largely vary if you use the WordPress menu, Block Editor, or Classic Editor.

Manually adding nofollow links into WordPress Block Editor

You can manually add noFollow links in the WordPress block editor if you do not want to utilize plugins. Here are the step-by-step ways of adding nofollow links to your WordPress’ pages or posts.

Manually adding nofollow links into WordPress Block Editor
  1. Head to “Posts” and click “Add New” to create a new page.
  2. Select the link’s anchor text and then click on the link icon. Go ahead and put in your URL. If you wish, tap the option to open the link in a new tab.
  3. Once you’ve finished, you must hit Enter or click the arrow button to add the link.
  4. To add the nofollow attribute to your link, click on the three vertical dots symbol in the top bar after selecting the block in which your link appears.
  5. In the drop-down menu that appears, select the Edit as HTML button.
  6. Your link’s HTML code is now visible. The rel= “nofollow” property can be added to the link.
  7. Nofollow is all you need to do if you notice the rel= “noopener noreferer” attribute in the HTML code.
  8. Pick ‘Edit visually’ from the 3 dots icon to return to the regular visual format.

By doing this, your regular link will become a nofollow link. All additional external links may be given the nofollow attribute using the same procedure.

Manually adding nofollow links into WordPress Classic Editor

You can manually add nofollow links to your post by switching to the old editor.

Manually adding nofollow links into WordPress Classic Editor
  1. Start by adding a new page using Pages » Add New. Highlight your link, then click the link button to add some anchor text to your site. The next step is to add your link.
  2. Click the cog symbol and tick the ‘Open link’ in a new tab checkbox to have your link open in a new tab. Then press the Add Link option.
  3. Now, in the classic editor, select the Text tab. Add the rel= “nofollow” attribute to the link. Meanwhile, add nofollow if rel= “noopener” already exists.
Manually adding nofollow links into WordPress Classic Editor

Manually adding Nofollow links in WordPress

Individual nofollow links may already be added manually with the Gutenberg editor. You can use this strategy if you add a few no-follow links. If your article has a lot of external and affiliate links, you should use Code Editor. The nofollow feature may be added more quickly with this method.

Manually adding Nofollow links in WordPress
  • To open a dropdown menu for the Code Editor option, go to the top-right corner of your screen and select the 3 vertical dots.
  • After selecting the Code Editor option, an HTML code will be displayed on your page.
  • Locate all the external links and place a nofollow attribute for each.
  • To switch back, click on the Visual Editor option.

Make all external links Nofollow automatically

Adding a nofollow attribute to all of your site’s external links is something that some WordPress users desire to do automatically. Comment links are a concern for some bloggers.

Because of this, WordPress automatically applies the nofollow property to all comments. JavaScript is the most common technology used to do this. For Google and your site’s SEO, this is not beneficial. Instead, you should use the primary ways to manually nofollow the URLs as mentioned earlier in this article.

Our Linkilo plugin can be used to add nofollow all external links automatically. The nofollow attribute is added t your pages, posts, sidebar, and navigation menus.

To do this, follow these steps:

  • Install and then activate the Linkilo plugin.
  • After you have activated it, head to your WordPress dashboard’s Linkilo Settings.
  • Check the “add no follow to all external links” and click save change.

Alternatively, you have the option to check all of the links as nofollow, or select the links in the post you are currently editing and check which one you want to attribute a nofollow link:

Once you hit save changes, it will show “Follow” in case you want to check it and revert back to a follow link:

Frequently asked questions

Will Google crawl Nofollow links?

Google stated on September 10, 2019, by Google that crawling and indexing nofollow backlinks might be affected by a new nofollow upgrade. Nofollow links were formerly regarded as a command by the search engine and would not be crawled or indexed if located on the originating site.

Google announced that all the link characteristics, sponsored, UGC, and nofollow, work as indications for us to use for ranking purposes. These changes also had an impact on the algorithm for SEO. Hence, nofollow links are no longer crawled by Google starting on March 1, 2020. Instead, the search engine will use them as a tip when crawling and indexing material.

Why still use nofollow links even if they are not “counted” the same as do-follow links?

In the first decade of the new millennium, blogs introduced themselves as successful internet business. As a result, spammers pounced on the opportunity to leave links to their sites in the comments.

When this worked, it spread quickly, wreaking havoc on search engine results pages. Skewed search results were no longer returning relevant results for users. Hence, no-follow links were designed to combat spam and backlink abuse.

Is it okay to place Nofollow links to internal links?

Using the nofollow tag on any internal links is generally not recommended.

Only crawl priority is an acceptable exception, although it’s rarely necessary. The nofollow tag can be used to optimize your crawl budget if, for example, you have pages that are not publicly visible on the Internet (i.e., log-in or password-restricted pages).

Here’s more information from Matt Cutts video:

A nofollow link does not automatically mean that Google will not index it. The target page might still be indexed. However, the link value will not be taken into account.


In conclusion, the decision of whether or not to nofollow all external links is dependent on the website and its goals. Generally, nofollow links should be used any time you don’t want to pass on ranking power to the page or website link targets.

It is important to note that nofollow links can still be beneficial for SEO, as Google may decide to crawl and index them. The use of dofollow and nofollow links should be considered carefully, as they can impact your website’s SEO.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nofollow links; it is important to consider your own website’s goals and objectives when making the decision whether or not to use them.

So, if you’re tired of manually adding no-follow links to your WordPress website, then it’s time to try With its easy-to-use internal linking tool, you can save time and ensure that your website is compliant with Google’s guidelines. Sign up for today and take advantage of all its amazing features. Start optimizing your website like a pro and see the results you’ve been looking for.

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jay kang

An entrepreneur and SEO expert, is the driving force behind innovative platforms like, and more. Committed to empowering marketers, Jay continues to make a positive impact in the digital marketing space.

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