When To Use A Nofollow Rel Tag

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When you should use a nofollow rel tag

In my eyes, the follow rel tag is the condom of the SEO world and protects you from the diseases of linking to a spammy website. If that intro doesn’t explain everything well go into a little more detail.

What is a rel attribute?

First, off rel stand for “relationship” and it gives information to the search engine on what the relationship is between linked pages. It can also be used to give more information on what the page is about. This endless list of rel attribute include tags that tell search engines the order of pages, which to index and not index, and who the author of the page is. The thing is only a few really matter to SEOs.

Especially the Nofollow rel attribute, which is the condom of the SEO world. The Nofollow tag can help you from getting flagged by search engines, and even be cruel to another webmaster. (We’ll talk about that later)

What is a nofollow tag

The name of Nofollow is a little misleading and makes it sound like search engines don’t follow the link. The contrary is true, the search engines do follow the link, but it forgets the link juice on the other side.

The easy way to say it is you’re still giving a backlink but you’re revoking your vote of confidence for that page but at the same time users and search engines can still travel through the link.

When should you use a nofollow tag

So now we know what exactly a rel attribute is and what Nofollow tag is, in what scenarios are Nofollow rel tags appropriate to use. There are 4 we will cover today. Paid links, comment sections/forums, embeds, and out of spite.

One thing to remind you of is that you should never use a no follow tag on internal links. Only use them when you’re linking to an external resource.

Paid Links

One of the major factor when ranking sites is domain authority. When a webmaster purchases links, these links pass domain authority and make the site rank higher on organic listings. This is a problem because the webmaster buying the links is not earning those links. They are cheating the system. Google does not like this for three reasons, you are artificially affecting organic listings, pushing the small guy who doesn’t have a lot of money out of the picture, and taking money away from Adwords.

So how does a no follow tag solve all these problems? A Nofollow stops the link from passing authority. This fixes all three problems listed above. With no link juice being passed, the organic listing is not affected, AdWords are still essential and the small guy who has amazing content is able to stay in the picture because he earns do follow links.

The twist

Companies may not only buy links for the domain authority. they may also purchase links for the PR and the traffic. In the case, they are doing just that, the no follow tag should still be implemented. This will make all three parties happy, the seller will still be able to sell links, the buyer still gets PR and traffic, and search engine organic listing will not be affected.


Before the Nofollow rel tag was created, comments sections and open forums were used and abused like hashtags on Instagram. At one point links in comment sections and forum post passed authority and SEO’s spammed these to gain backlinks.

Most website automatically implements Nofollow tags to comment sections and forum post. With the addition of the Nofollow tag, no authority is passed through the link.

This negates the point of adding links to comment sections and removes the unnecessary spam.

There are some quirks when it comes to posting links on forums. A great example of, when a post of your finds its way to the front page of Reddit the link inside the post and converts into a dofollow link, and the tasty but thirst quenching link juice is passed

Embedded content (infographics and widgets)

Google’s Cutts recommended that those who produce widgets that will be embedded on other websites make use of Nofollow for links leading back to their own sites. I see this as a major problem.

Google wants webmasters to self-regulate their content with adding Nofollow tags, and I don’t see that ever happening.

I understand Google’s concern. Embedded content is a tricky situation because it’s a very easy and potentially unfair way to gather a lot of backlinks. The links could also be pointing to sites or content that don’t accurately describe the source content.

With a backlink, you are basically giving Google a vote of confidence that you like this content. With embedded content, you are adding this content to your site and if that is not a vote of approval I don’t know what is.

At the end of the day we don’t want to make our deity GOOGLE to ever strike us down. You might consider using a Nofollow tag on embed content you distribute. If you as a webmaster decide to embed something it’s up to you to decide if you can endorse the content.


Hate is a very strong word, and adding a Nofollow tag is definitely appropriate for someone or a company you hate.

Let me give you an example, Ravinder is making an amazing piece of content and its missing one thing. A great piece of content to link to! Low and behold Johnny has an amazing piece of content, but Johnny is an A-hole.

So Ravinder doesn’t want to endorse Johnny but still links to the piece of content. Instead of letting the link pass authority and affect Johnny’s domain authority, Ravinder ads a Nofollow rel tag thus telling Google he doesn’t endorse johnny’s content. Now the no authority will be passed. Remember that the search engines will still crawl that site and visitors can still go to the linked page.

How to Use The Nofollow Rel Attribute

Actually implementing the Nofollow tag is very simple. The tag is inserted into a link and not the header of the page. I would also recommend not using it when linking internally.

Ex. <a href=”www.someotherpage.ca/rshokar-is-the-best” rel=”nofollow”>whose page is this</a>

Rules of the nofollow tag

With all this explanation of when you should use nofollow tags. I will leave you with three simple rules for when to use this tag. If you follow these rules you should be fine.

  1. If you do not/cannot endorse the site you linking to.
  2. When your link is bought/only for a commercial use
  3. In the case you don’t like a company/person

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