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The Nofollow Attribute Explained

What is the nofollow attribute?

The nofollow attribute provides a way for website owners to let search engines, most notably Google, know whether they should follow a link or pass weight.


Before the nofollow attribute existed, a page-level meta tag (robots) was required to say “Hey, Google, follow all of the links on this page!” or “Hey, Google, don‘t follow the links on this page. I don‘t trust them enough to vouch for them or distribute weight to them.”


You could still effectively nofollow singular links before this attribute existed, but it did require a little more work. You would need to send each link through a custom file which would then redirect it to its intended location. The redirecting file would then need to be blocked using a robots.txt file. Much more effective than the robots meta tag!


Why should you use it?


The nofollow attribute should be used on paid links, links to untrusted content and sources or links to sites you simply don‘t wish to endorse for various reasons.


You should also consider using it globally for blog comments, forum posts / signatures, and other similar communities which allow user-submitted content – these will likely become a target for spammers should links be followed. I‘d suggest you don‘t risk it.


How do you use it?


It‘s quite simple really – you use the usual HTML code to create a hyperlink, the only difference is adding the nofollow attribute as seen in the example below.


Here‘s how you use the nofollow attribute:


Mersey Talent


Now, if a handful of people copy and pasted the code above onto their websites, we wouldn‘t see any benefit other than maybe a couple of visitors. It wouldn‘t help us to rank for ‘Mersey Talent’ and it wouldn‘t pass PageRank over to our site either.


Of course, that isn‘t the only option available. You could still use the classic robots meta tag if you didn‘t want to follow any outbound links at all.


Here‘s how you nofollow using the robots meta tag:


Using the code above would be like manually adding the nofollow attribute to all of the outgoing links across your entire website. I wouldn‘t recommend this option for the majority of websites as linking is a natural piece of the internet puzzle.

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