Today I want to share few facts on Nofollow attribute which has the ability to tell the search engines not to follow a particular link or transfer the page rank through that link. Nofollow link plays a major role in search engine optimization and is widely used by webmasters to get a good page rank or to preserve the already existing page rank. Just before going into the actual article I want to share a small moral story taught for children.
A lion and his wife once lived in a mountain cave. They had several small cubs and were a happy lot. The lions taught their children to be well-behaved and honest. So the cubs slowly grew up to be well-mannered and good.
Not far from the lion’s cave lived a jackal and his wife. They had several cubs too, but the jackals were far from being a happy family. The jackal parents were ever disputing. They did not teach their little ones to behave. So the cubs grew up to be ill-mannered and wicked.
For this reason, the lion and his wife would not allow their cubs to play with the little ones of the jackal. Though the little jackals would come near the lion’s cave and try to be friendly, the lioness would always chase them away.
‘But why can’t we play with those jackals, Mother?’ the lion cubs would ask.
‘It is because you must keep away from bad company,’ the lioness would answer. ‘Oh, you will become wicked like them. Others will not like you and shun you.
One day when the lion cubs were a bit older, the lioness began to teach them to roar. The cubs had a merry time, trying out their voices. They laughed at each other’s mistakes, and had a great deal of fun.
Meanwhile, from their den, the jackal children listened to the young lions. Soon they too tried to roar. Naturally as they were not able to roar, they only managed to howl, the way jackals do.
Hearing them, the young lions thought it great fun. They wanted to try to imitate the jackals, but the lioness would not let them. In fact, she put an end to their roaring lessons for that day.
As she explained: ‘You can’t be too careful when it comes to avoiding bad company. If others hear you, they will think that you not only imitate their voices, but also their actions.’
Moral: Beware of bad company which is bound to leave its impact!
I think by now you have understood what is “nofollow” attribute. Whenever we are pointing external links to sites we should be careful that we are pointing to good sites or trusted sites which don’t have harmful content. Else as the story above search engines especially Google considers your site very seriously and penalizes you when you are pointing a less quality or a bad content site. If you are having a good site containing technology or blogging related content its ok if you point external links to sites which have the same relevant content as your site but if you send links to potentially harmful niche like adult sites, sites penalized by Google, paid links etc. then you have to face the consequences.
Nofollow helps webmasters to tell search engines not to follow links to the specific link from your page. It has some page rank benefits as sites which have more dofollow links to irrelevant sites get a lower page rank compared to sites which have less dofollow links to sites of relevant niche. When you are indicating a nofollow attribuite to a link your page rank and your anchor text is not transferred to the externally linked page.
What are Dofollow links
Actually there is no such attribute called dofollow it is just an indication to follow a link when nofollow attribute is not used. So links without nofollow attribute are called as dofollow links. By default when you leave a link without nofollow attribute it is called as dofollow link. There is no need to add any dofollow to the external links when you want your link juice or Page Rank to flow through the external links.
How to add Nofollow to an external link
You can add nofollow attribute to the meta tags of your header file which is not recommended but for knowledge sake I just gave an example below.
<meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow” />
For an external link from your blog or website you can add the attribute as follows
<a href=”website link” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>
There is also a simple plugin called NoFollowr for WordPress users which helps you to add nofollow links to your post without touching the code. This plugin shows a tick mark with green colour indicating the link as a dofollow and when it shows red mark it means it is a nofollow link. If you want to change the dofollow link to nofollow if you click on the tick mark it changes to red colour no follow link. This process works when you are logged into your dashboard and is visible only for the admin.
How to check for Bad Neighborhood
Some of the sites can be manually judged by the nature of content the site holds. But most of times we don’t know whether we are pointing to a bad neighborhood so there is a simple tool which can detect a bad neighboring site. This tool scans for the content in the sites which are linked from our sites and if it finds any harmful words it gives an indication that your site is pointing to a bad neighbor.
Bad Neighborhood Checking Tool
For checking sites which are banned or disabled in Google search engine below is the tool. Don’t worry if the below tool shows that your site is banned because you might not have added your site in Google webmaster tools nothing more than that.
Google Banned (blacklist) Checker
When to add Nofollow attribute to External Links
- Nofollow links can be added when the external link is pointing to a potentially harmful site.
- If your post contains many irrelevant sites other than your niche then adding nofollow attribute can preserve your link juice.
- When you are not sure about the site or you don’t trust a site then adding nofollow is a good option.
- You can also add nofollow attribute for pages having lower page rank than your site. There are many toolbars to check the page rank of a website and if the page rank is less than your page then adding nofollow can preserve your page rank.
- You need to disable comments or add nofollow to comments when people spam a lot by linking to potentially harmful sites. When you are using commentluv plugin there will be a option to remove luv and also option to remove the website. If you dont want to remove the links then you need to add nofollow attribute. Some blogs which have PR6 usually install Disqus comment system to prevent the spam activity.
- Add nofollow when you are selling links for other sites for the sake of traffic, but people wont buy links if you sell nofollow links. So if you want to sell links than be careful to turn them nofollow as Google is strict with such links these days.Read: Google support on Rel=Nofollow by Matt Cutts
Do you want to use Nofollow attribute:
Now that you have understood the value of nofollow attribute and its role in determining a blogs page rank. It is up to you on how you use this attribute, when ever you are giving credits to some blogs of relevant niche or using articles which are relevant to your niche it is better to leave them as dofollow. It is a kind of showing gratitude for using there links and be careful in choosing articles from other blogs or sites. If you do have many dofollow links for irrelevant sites than start making them nofollow and preserve your page rank.