Will 'nofollow' Save You from Getting Penalized by Google?

The ‘rel’ attribute in anchor tag came into focus after the Google penalization of guest blogging sites. Till then, no one cared about it expect some professional and skillful bloggers. The relation attribute shortly knows as ‘rel’ with ‘nofollow’ value saved those bloggers and sites during penalization. Let’s take some time on ‘rel’ attribute today and see how its going to impact your site.

What is ‘rel’ attribute?

‘rel’ is a relation attribute specifies the relationship between the current webpage and linked webpage. It can only be used along with the ‘href’ attribute except in <meta> tag.

The values that can be assigned to ‘rel’ attribute are as follows:

Value Description
alternate Links to an alternate version of the document (i.e. print page, translated or mirror)
author Links to the author of the document
bookmark Permanent URL used for bookmarking
help Links to a help document
license Links to copyright information for the document
next The next document in a selection
nofollow Links to an unendorsed document, like a paid link.
("nofollow" is used by Google, to specify that the Google search spider should not follow that link)
noreferrer Specifies that the browser should not send a HTTP referer header if the user follows the hyperlink
prefetch Specifies that the target document should be cached
prev The previous document in a selection
search Links to a search tool for the document
tag A tag (keyword) for the current document

Why ‘nofollow’ is special?

Because ‘nofollow’ provides a way for webmasters to tell search engines not to follow specific links or links on the entire page.

Actually, the ‘nofollow’ attribute is appeared on the page-level meta tag, telling search engine bots not to follow outbound links on the page. It would look like as shown below when coded on a webpage.

<meta name="robots" content="nofollow" />

The ‘nofollow’ was started being practiced on individual links disallowing robots from crawling certain webpages they linked to. Take a look at the sample link instructing robots not to follow it:

<a href="signin.php" rel="nofollow">sign in</a>

The special thing about ‘nofollow’ is that it instructs search engines including Google that not to follow certain specified links which is far from violating Google webmaster guidelines. When you specify ‘nofollow’ to any out bounding links which were considered unnatural by Google in the past would wipe of violation on your site.

Google doesn’t follow links that are specified with ‘nofollow’ relation. That means it doesn’t consider those links in transferring PageRank or anchor text across these links. Any number of outbound links from your site with ‘nofollow’ relation counts literally zero by Google.

The outbound links which you specified as ‘nofollow’ will not be removed by Google unless they are not submitted in site index or referred by another site.

Will ‘nofollow’ really save you?

Yes, it will!

Adding ‘nofollow’ relation to unnatural links would help your site get out of penalizing hit list.

Here are some Google approved cases in which you could use ‘nofollow’ with any doubt.

Untrusted content

Untrusted content is that which is intended for promoting their links in comments or in guestbook entries. This practice is also called spam commenting in SEO terminology. An example of a spam comment looks like the following:

“Wow! very nice content. Thank you so much. Visit my link: http://crapycoco.com”

There is a need to remove or neutralize spam comments on the blog as it affects the PagRank. You can just ‘nofollow’ out bound links from comments and guestbook entries. This discourages spam commenters targeting your site and will help your site from inadvertently passing PageRank to bad neighborhoods on the web.

Paid links

A site’s rank in SERP is based on the number of referrals it gets from other sites which are also called inbound linking process. A paid link is an unnatural linking process which is against webmaster guidelines. In order to prevent those violations, it is highly recommended to use ‘nofollow’ relation to those paid outbound links from your site.

“In order to prevent paid links from influencing search results and negatively impacting users, we urge webmasters use nofollow on such links.” – says Google

It is also recommended to use words like “Advertisement” for paid links and ads you are getting paid for displaying on your sites.

Note: This is the reason why most of the guest blogging networks get penalized by Google as they haven’t provided ‘nofollow’ relation to their outbound links.

Login and register pages

As the login and sign in pages have nothing useful information to be crawled, there is no point in inviting Google to crawl webpages like “Register here” and “log in” here. Using ‘nofollow’ relation to these pages in also recommended. However, a solid information architecture — intuitive navigation, user- and search-engine-friendly URLs contribute to getting a good SEO rank to your site.

Hope you got some idea about ‘nofollow’ relation and how it can save you from getting into penalization. Thank you! Next time!

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