Nofollow links

Nofollow links are hyperlinks with a special HTML attribute that instructs search engines not to take the link into account when evaluating the page rank of the linked page. In short, they do not transfer “linkjuice”.

Technically speaking, the rel=”nofollow” attribute is added to a link to signal to search engines such as Google that the link creator does not directly recommend the linked page.

Comparison: Nofollow vs. dofollow links

  • Dofollow links: Standard links that search engines follow and that contribute to the authority of the target page.
  • Nofollow links: Links with the rel=”nofollow” attribute do not contribute to the search engine ranking authority of the target page.

How to recognize nofollow links

  1. By checking the HTML code.
  2. Use of browser extensions that highlight nofollow links.

HTML code of nofollow links

A nofollow link looks like this in the HTML code:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Example</a>

Tools for checking nofollow attributes

  • Browser extensions such as “NoFollow Simple”.
  • SEO tools such as MozBar or Ahrefs.

Use of nofollow links

Nofollow links are used in various situations to control the way search engines crawl the web and rank content. Reasons for their use include:

  • Avoidance of conflicts with Google’s guidelines: For example, paid backlinks or other links that are not based on natural link building.
  • Control over the passing on of linkjuice: Webmasters can decide not to allow certain links to contribute to the search engine optimization of the target page.

Certain types of content and links

  • Comments and forum posts: To reduce spam and control the quality of links.
  • Advertising links and partner links: To maintain transparency towards search engines.

Examples of typical nofollow sources

  • Social media: Many social platforms automatically set the nofollow attribute.
  • Wikipedia: All external links are nofollowed by default.

But how are nofollow links created?

Creating a nofollow link is easy. Simply add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the corresponding link, as shown in the HTML code example above.

Step-by-step instructions for WordPress:

  1. When creating a link in the Gutenberg editor, click on the link and then on the “Link options” icon.
  2. Activate the “Nofollow” option in the drop-down menu (depending on the plugin or theme used).

But what are common mistakes in this context and how do you avoid them?

  • Excessive use of Nofollow: Can affect SEO performance as it disrupts the natural link structure.
  • Non-compliance with paid links: Can lead to penalties from search engines.

Effects of nofollow links

For a long time, nofollow links were considered useless for SEO, as they had no direct influence on the ranking. But the perspective has changed. Although they do not transfer PageRank, nofollow links can still be valuable by:

  • Create diversity in the link profile.
  • Drive traffic to the website.
  • Increase the visibility and awareness of a brand.

Nofollow links were originally introduced to combat spam in comments. Over time, however, their role has expanded. Google has announced that they will consider nofollow links to a certain extent, which further changes their importance.

Various SEO studies and experiments have shown that nofollow links can indirectly contribute to SEO, e.g. by increasing brand visibility and traffic.

Google has further developed the nofollow attribute and introduced two new attributes: rel=”sponsored” for paid links and rel=”ugc” for user-generated content. These changes allow finer control of the left-hand signals.

These developments mean that webmasters and SEOs can now have more precise control over how links are interpreted and offer more flexibility in dealing with different types of links.

Best practices for the use of nofollow links:

  1. Guidelines for correct use
    • Use Nofollow for paid links or links that could result from a conflict of interest.
    • Use the new attributes rel=”sponsored “and rel=”ugc” according to their purpose.
  2. Google Webmaster Guidelines and their interpretation
    • Google recommends using the nofollow attribute in situations where you do not want to vouch for a link.
  3. When nofollow makes sense and when it doesn’t
    • Nofollow is useful for paid links, unsafe content or user-generated content where you cannot guarantee the quality.
    • Nofollow is generally not necessary for trustworthy, topic-relevant links.
  4. Building a natural link profile
    • A healthy link profile contains a mixture of dofollow and nofollow links to signal naturalness.
  5. The role of nofollow links in a balanced link profile
    • Nofollow links contribute to the diversity and credibility of a link profile, even if they have no direct SEO value.

Case studies and field reports:

  • Positive examples show how nofollow links have led to more traffic and increased brand awareness.
  • Negative examples illustrate the consequences of misusing Nofollow, such as over-optimization, which can lead to a penalty by Google.


Nofollow links, once introduced as a simple tool to combat spam, have become an essential part of SEO and link building strategies. Their role and importance have changed over time, especially with the introduction of Google’s Nofollow 2.0, UGC and Sponsored Link Attributes. These developments offer webmasters and SEOs more nuanced ways to control the way search engines interpret and evaluate links.

A balanced link profile that includes both dofollow and nofollow links is crucial for a natural and credible SEO strategy. While nofollow links do not directly transfer PageRank, they can still contribute to the visibility, traffic and ultimately the success of a website. They promote a healthy diversity in the link profile and help to maintain the integrity of the website in the eyes of search engines.

The correct use of nofollow attributes in accordance with the guidelines and consideration of their impact on SEO are essential. By following best practices for using nofollow links, webmasters and SEOs can maximize the benefits of these links without the risk of search engine penalties.