Skip to main content
We are Brand SEO Beijing serving international business, your marketing partner, Contact us by

Are Nofollow Links a Google Ranking Factor?

Is there any connection between unfollowing links and search rankings?Find out if nofollow links affect your site's visibility in search.

"Nofollow" isn't just a fun-sounding term, it's used by SEO professionals to sound more mysterious.Nofollow is an HTML attribute that has been around for 14 years.At its most basic, nofollow is a hyperlink attribute that tells Google not to pass PageRank so Google won't even crawl nofollous links.

You can control the nofollowing of any link on your site (whether external or internal) by simply adding the nofollow attribute.

There are also nofolled links out of your control – when another site links to you but has flagged it as a nofollows link.

But is there any connection between unfollowing links and rankings?

As it turns out, there is a lot of confusion on this topic.Let's get to the truth of everything.

Disclaimer: Nofollow links are a ranking factor

Do nofollow links provide any value?

Nofollow links are more than just a glorified attribute.This is a way to show search engines to ignore spam or low-quality links.

Think of nofollow links as armor to protect your site from shady tactics.

in your source code like this:

< a href="" rel="nofollow">Anchor Text

However, nofollow linksReallyWill it affect rankings?

Evidence of Nofollow Links as a Ranking Factor

Google introduced the nofollow link attribute in 2005 to help website owners fend off spam.Google requires sites to add the nofollow link attribute if you are exchanging links.

If you don't, you're caught and Google may penalize you for the link scheme.

It was then that nofollow links were introduced.The Nofollow tag tells search engines to ignore the destination URL.

While Google can take manual action against you because you're not using nofollow links, does it help your rankings?

In September 2019, Google's Gary Illyes confirmed that the directives were "suggestions."

Google's Danny Sullivan chimed in in support of Illies' comment about nofollow links.

These claims are backed up in Google's nofollow announcement post, which states:

"When nofollow was introduced, Google did not consider any links flagged in this way as a signal to be used in our search algorithms.Now the situation has changed.All link attributes (sponsored, UGC, and nofollow) are considered hints about which links to consider or exclude from searches.

We will use these tips and other signals to better understand how to properly analyze and use links within our system.

More recently on September 2019, 9, Google introduced two new properties to support nofollow links:Sponsored Links and UGC Links.

These attributes were created to help Google understand the intent behind the link.

Sponsored Links (rel=“Sponsored”) are used for promotional, advertising or sponsored links.

UGC links (rel=”ugc”) are used by users who generate their own content, which is not endorsed from an advertising perspective.

Do nofollow links hurt your site?

In a 2013/9/9 Google Search Center YouTube video, Matt Cutts shared that nofollow links won't harm your site.

Katz said:

"No, usually nofollow links won't harm your site.So, in advance, very quick answer.

Can I use the nofollow flag to control indexing?


Just adding the nofollow tag attribute to a link doesn't mean Google won't index or crawl your site.

The best way to preserve your crawl budget is to use other methods, such as using the noindex attribute or disallowing the use of bots.txt files.

Nofollow Links as a Ranking Signal: Our Verdict

While links with the nofollow tag are no longer ignored, they do not pass ranking signals.

While it's interesting to see that nofollow links don't directly affect your rankings, it's clear that it provides some hints for Google and search engines.

If you read between the lines, these "tips" we provide to Google mean you can tell Google not to follow a link, but in "some" cases the final decision rests with Google.

Finally, in most cases, your rankings will not be affected.

Extended reading:

Are Paid Links a Google Ranking Factor?

Inbound Links as a Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Are contextual links a Google ranking factor?

Back to Top