When to Use Nofollow attribute to External Links

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!

nofollow

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.

11 Comments

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  1. Hi, Vijesh.
    The post is undoubtedly informative. I think Harleena’s question about ‘dofollow’ links in the previous posts forced you to write this post or may be you planned it. I was curious to know what you would say in reply to her. I got the answers now. But, I have a few doubts as well. Hope you can clear them.

    1. If we have 10 dofollow external links in a post, which rank flows out? Is it from that particular page or the homepage?
    2. Don’t you think that allowing more dofollow external link takes away your Domain authority?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Achari,

      As soon as I saw your questions it made me think if at all I were Matt Cutts, I would have said some thing and you would have been satisfied. But you know me as a teacher and I have not much command over SEO as Neil Patel or Rand Fishkin has, but I have some knowledge and some experiences with Page Rank. Though I am not a PR or SEO Guru let me be clear and genuine as I would be with my students if I don’t know I would say I really don’t know so here is my explanation for your questions.

      1. I read Google assigns page rank to each and every page of our blog or site and it gives an aggregate PageRank. If you check different links from your blog you can notice different page ranks in the Page rank checker tool. So when 10 do follow domains are present in a post the page rank assigned to that particular page will flow in fractions to the 10 links. The affected page rank will show an overall difference in the aggregate page rank.

      2. I know a bit of Domain Authority but I dont know how it relates to dofollow links, if at all I read about it else where I would send a mail. I never tried to know about domain authority, I read about it and checked it for the first time through your post. So sorry for this question.

      If you are a king of a kingdom you have the authority to make rules but you are not subjected to follow those rules. Similarly if king transfers his dominion to his minister he has the ability to control the minister and minister has the ability to break or make rules but he will not follow it. Will you agree?

      Here Google is the kingdom, Larry page, Sergey Brin, Matt etc are kind of rulers who give their dominion to so called Robots. Robots are the things which run on an algorithm which are being assigned by humans and it changes every now and then. These robots assign page rank depending on some algorithm which people try to crack every bit of it. Fact is that Google does not reveal even a bit of how there algorithms work.

      I can write a post on some of the weird things I noticed about Page Rank.
      – I have blogger blogs, one of them is written all by myself and it has got PR 0 and one more blog has many copy paste articles and it has PR3. Reason may be I have many do follow links in that blog with PR 0. ( They are strict with plagiarism yet PR varies)
      – Google is strict with adult neighborhood but these sites are also assigned Page Rank. They should have been omitting them and kept a N/A but no they are the makers of rules so their wish.
      – Sometimes sites are assigned PR3 without any backlinks and sites with many backlinks as PR 1.

      So these weird observations are because of these Robots which assign page ranks randomly and people try to master over the Robots and I personally don’t like to be ruled by Robots. So I dont use much nofollow and I use only to few sites which are having content which I dont love personally irrespective of PR they have. I care more about traffic and Money not about page rank. I had been severely affected by panda, 1000+ visitors dropped to 200+ visitors for my blogger blog. My earnings dropped to 60%, then I thought to build genuine readership and I dont want to depend on search engine robots as we dont know when they would turn us down. TechCrunch has several visitors so Google goes and indexes or crawls every one hour but our sites are crawled for 2 or 3 days gap. If at all people visit our site like Techcrunch, robots have no other option but to crawl on an hourly basis so I want Robots to come after me but i wont go after them. If tomorrow is panda my search engine traffic drops but if I have 100 regular visitors who love me panda cant affect me.

      Sorry for the lengthy comment summary is I am the King of my Blog and I have my own rules not rules posed by Google.

      • What an attitude, Vijesh!
        You will certainly reach the pinnacle of your blogging career. And you need not apologize to me for writing a lengthy blog post. In fact, I feel that it will make yet another great post. “You are the King of your blog and you have your own rules.” Like it!

        I might have sounded silly when I asked those 2 questions. But the fact is that I got PR 3 in 6 months for my blog and it dropped to 1 in the next update. I could not understand what went wrong. Maybe your analysis about Google’s robots is right. So, instead of worrying about PR, DA and all, let’s keep blogging and win genuine and loyal readers.

        Thanks a lot for the time, Vijesh.

        • Hi Achari, Happy that you understood what I mean to say.
          Regarding your PR drop I think the probable reason could be your posting schedule and on page optimization. Initially you might have had a good posting schedule and now that you have dropped it might have a affect and you should link your articles through internal links of other posts.

          But don’t worry on PR build traffic that is what readyinfohere is lacking.

  2. This is a well elaborative post.
    This whole menance of dofollow and nofollow was something I hardly understood but this post has brought in much clarity.
    I enjoyed the story as well.

    • Hi Emmanuel,
      Happy to see you man hope everything is going well. keep going bro its not money that rules the world it is love that truly rules and you got that from many of your readers.
      Glad you enjoyed the story, I want to see your recovery soon and be more happy than before.
      All the best bro…

  3. Hello Vijesh.
    Its a very good post and I was not much aware of it but now after reading your blog post which helped me in learning.

    Regards

  4. That was a really good explanation of the nofollow attribute Vijesh!

    This type of thing use to be over my head, I didn’t understand what that meant even after reading it. I didn’t understand how Google rated things so we know if you don’t understand that then the rest will be hard to follow.

    Now I still am a dofollow blog but I’ve always been careful with who I let comment over at my place. Because I do have CommentLuv Premium, I’ll either make their link a nofollow or I’ll remove their link entirely. Depends on the blogger and the site actually.

    I still believe in giving people link juice as long as you’re cautious. But I also make sure that any affiliate links on my blog and all nofollow as well. That I did learn about as well finally.

    This is always a good topic to cover so thanks for that.

    Enjoy your week okay!

    ~Adrienne

  5. First thing i did is that i checked my domains using both the tools and everything was fine.
    It’s almost impossible to keep your eye on each and every link in your blog,and in case if you are getting huge number of comments it’s almost impossible(single option is user akismet) however my experience says that it(akismat) consider lots of genuine comments as spam which we would like to have as comment in our blog.
    So in that case the simple option is make your blog Nofollow.

  6. Indeed you made a good explanation. My question is how you make money from this post man?

    Adsense? If I read this, if anyone read this or is looking for this he already know about Adsense, and you get paid paid for showing ads, so he never click Ads, so you remain with CPM earnings, That’s the truth! By the way ads showing now for my country has nothing to do with this content or with my interests (suppose they have cokies in my pc but nothing relevant). So remain to lead me as visitor to another post and maybe there are relevant ads.

    I believe blogging can be succesful by teaching people how they make money online, but showing products like buying hosting, buying domains which are a must to start online.

    Best regards from I. C. Daniel

  7. Hey Vijesh,

    With all honesty, it’s my first time to read about the no follow attribute and after reading your post, I am very interested to try this one out. In optimizing ones page, I guess no one would ever want to link their pages to a bad link so it’s important to understand how to find or to know what links to be followed or connected with and what links that needs to be avoided. Within the technicalities on how to manually no follow links, I’m a bit confuse on how to do it. So, I decided to go and try the plugin you suggested. Hopefully, it will help me avoid linking in bad links though. Thanks for sharing this very informative post.

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