What Are Nofollow Links and Why You Need To Use Them

I haven’t written a blogging-specific post in awhile, so today I want to talk about Nofollow links.

Nofollow links have been around for awhile, and many of you may already be familiar with them. For those of you who aren’t, I wanted to create a quick guide that covers what they are, when they should be used, and how you can easily add them to avoid penalization by Google.

What Are Nofollow Links and Why You Need To Use Them

How Links Work

Search engines use robots to “crawl” your page and discover what your content is about so that they can appropriately categorize and rank your site.

When you link to another site from your page, those robots will follow the link and also crawl that page. Google treats links to other sites as an endorsement of that site, which can lead to a higher page rank for them as well. For example, if I write a post about how much I love the lemon pistachio donuts at Stan’s, Google will check out Stan’s and take note that I am giving them two thumbs up. They may also decide that they want donuts like I do a lot of the time.

According to Google, “a site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. In order to prevent paid links from influencing search results and negatively impacting users, we urge webmasters use nofollow on such links.” Continuing my example, this means that if I was paid to write about Stan’s delicious donut, even though I may wholeheartedly endorse them, I am being compensated for my endorsement which can be seen as an unfair advantage.  Google has no idea if I actually love that donut or if I am just linking to it because I have been paid, so to be safe, they advise using nofollow tags on such links.

If you do not use nofollow on non-organic links (see below for examples), you run the risk of being penalized by Google which can result in a lower page rank or removal of your site.

What The Nofollow Tag Does

The nofollow tag looks like this: rel=”nofollow” and is inserted into the html code of your page links. Rel stands for relationship, so you are telling Google that this link has a nofollow relationship and it should be ignored.

Adding a nofollow tag tells search engines not to follow any outbound links that you may have on your site. This means that when the robots discover a nofollow link, they will not follow it outbound and will instead remain on your site and continue to crawl your content.

When Should The Nofollow Tag Be Used

You should “nofollow” links in the following situations:

  • If you are writing a sponsored post, meaning that you have been paid money to write about a specific subject.
  • If you have been gifted a product in exchange for a review. Basically, if you are required to disclose your participation with a brand under FTC guidelines, you should “nofollow” any links to that product/service.
  • If you are using affiliate links, or links where you have the potential to make money from a user’s interaction with them.

How To Add A Nofollow Tag

Prior to the latest WordPress update, there was a very helpful WordPress plugin called Ultimate Nofollow, but since that time there have been compatibility issues and adding the tag manually is actually quite simple.

Let’s use a link to Erin’s Inside Job for example.

1. Set up your link as you normally would.

2. To add a nofollow tag to this link, you will need to view your post in html mode. To do this in WordPress, simply change your view from “Visual” to “Text” by clicking on the “Text” tab in the upper right hand corner of your text editor.


3. Locate your link, which in my case looks like this: <a href=”http://www.erinsinsidejob.com”>Erin’s Inside Job</a>

4. Add your “nofollow” tag: <a href=”http://www.erinsinsidejob.com” rel=”nofollow”>Erin’s Inside Job</a>

5. Voila! Your link is now tagged as “nofollow.”

That’s it! Make sure that you are conscientious of the links that you use and that you are compliant with Google and the FTC regarding disclosure practices.

Also, as a reminder, if you are interested in starting your own WordPress blog, the special discount pricing that I negotiated with Bluehost for online hosting will expire this Friday, August 7th. You can read my post How To Start A WordPress Blog In Under 5 Minutes for more information and access to special hosting rates!