Call Us


Say Hello

Please fill in the form below and one of our specialists will be in touch with you, alternatively contact us on:


    Your message has been sent successfully.

    We have received your enquiry and if it’s something we can help with, we’ll get back in touch with you as soon as possible.

    4 mins

    NoFollow Tags

    The nofollow tag is a way that publishers can inform Google and other search engines that they do not endorse certain links to other pages.

    31 January 2023

    highlight 4

    Nofollow is important for search engine optimisation as it proves to search engines that they are not selling influence or are involved in schemes deemed as unacceptable SEO practices.

    By attaching a nofollow tag, you are essentially telling search engines to ignore this link. Historically, nofollow links did not pass link juice. As such, if a website linked to you, but nofollowed that link, you would not expect to see the rankings of your linked to page to improve.

    Does Google still pay attention to nofollow links?

    However, in late 2019 Google announced that they do now pay attention to nofollow links, considering them as ‘hints’. Anecdotally, at Go Up we’ve definitely seen a strong correlation between nofollow links and a website’s rankings in the past few years.

    For example, on a number of occasions we’ve notice that clients as well as ourselves have received a nofollow link from a high authority source, that no other changes were made to the site at the same time, and no other major links were received, and yet the site’s rankings improved markedly. This shows a strong connection between the nofollow link and the website’s improved ranking, leading us to believe that nofollow links are now more valuable than even Google might have you believe with their ‘hints’ announcement.

    Nofollow tags were introduced to HTML in 2005 by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, primarily to help prevent comment spam in blogs. They aimed to make the lives of spammers more difficult, so that when they spammed blogs and forums with unwanted links in the comments section (a standard spam tactic), it would not affect the ranking of a site. Prior to nofollow, preventing robots from following individual links on a page required a great deal of effort.

    Matt Cutts, former head of the web spam team at Google, said at the time: “The nofollow tag allows a site to add a link that abstains from being an editorial vote. Using nofollow is a safe way to buy links, because it’s a machine-readable way to specify that a link doesn’t have to be counted as a vote by a search engine.”

    What does Google say about nofollow?

    According to Google’s Search Essentials, nofollow tags should be used on content you cannot vouch for, such as user-generated content — i.e. blog comment sections and external ad links. In essence, websites should apply nofollow tags to links they don’t want Google to consider a vote of trust.

    However, nofollow has been widely misused, especially by large and famous online newspapers and magazines, who have a tendency of putting it on all outbound links to external sites. This meant that Google was missing important link signals. Hence why Google changed their stance to consider nofollow as hints. Gary Illyes, a senior analyst at Google, said:

    “Yes. They had been missing important data that links had, due to nofollow. They can provide better search results now that they consider rel=nofollowed links into consideration.”

    How you should use nofollow instructions

    Nofollow tags are assigned to the rel (short for relevance) attribute of an HTML element. Rel attributes are used by search engines to get more information about a link, it is a way of defining the relationship between your website and the page being linked to.

    Here’s how a nofollow link differs from default links in HTML:

    Default link: <a href=”link”>text</a>

    No followed link: <a href=”link” rel=”nofollow”>text</a>

    Should I nofollow all external links?

    No. Not only does Google actively advise against this, as (as explained above), in the past it has meant that they missed out on valuable link based metrics, it can also hurt your own SEO.

    Co-citations and the link environment of a page are important metrics that Google consider when deciding how to rank that page. By nofollowing all links, you are essentially asking Google to ignore the link eco system that your page sits in. By not letting Google follow links to other sites from your content, they find it more difficult to understand the content, context and trustworthiness of your page. And, in an age where E-E-A-T is very important, this can hinder your SEO efforts.

    Should I nofollow paid links?

    Whereas web publishers should not automatically nofollow all external links on their site, they should let Google know if a link has been paid for. Because someone has paid for that link to be on your site, it is less likely that you linked to that content because you think it’s genuinely good. As such, Google does not view paid for links as quality endorsements and do not want to reward them.

    Historically, nofollow was the way to mark a paid for link. This still works, and Google has said that nofollow is still an acceptable means by which to notify them if a link has been paid for. However, they have said that they prefer web publishers to use the sponsored attribute of rel=“sponsored” for paid links.

    For example:

    <p> Check out this <a href=“” rel=“sponsored”>sponsored content</a>. </p> </body> </html>


    Should I use nofollow on user generated content?

    Likewise, Google has said that it is still decent practice to nofollow UGC (user generated content) links. However, they prefer web publishers to instead use the rel=”ugc” attribute.

    For example:

    <p> Check out this <a href=“” rel=“ugc”>user-generated content</a>. </p> </body> </html>