Nofollow Links In SEO (Complete Guide)

This guide explains nofollow links.

Below, you’ll get a complete overview of nofollow backlinks, including what they are, how they work, the importance of nofollow links, and ways to get them for off-site search engine optimization (SEO).

The ultimate goal here is to help you understand every aspect of nofollow backlinks and how they apply to websites and the field of SEO in digital marketing.

Nofollow links

What Is a Nofollow Link?

A nofollow link is a hyperlink with a rel=”nofollow” attribute applied to the HTML anchor. Nofollow links inform search engine spiders not to crawl the backlinks or pass PageRank authority of the origin site to the destination site.

Purpose of Nofollow Links In SEO

The primary purpose of nofollow links is to prevent search engine crawlers from following hyperlinks on a web page so they do not transfer link equity from the source website to the target web page.

A secondary purpose of nofollow backlinks is to protect the originating site that’s creating the backlink from being associated with the destination site. Nofollow links are a safe way to link out to other web pages on the Internet without vouching for the quality, expertise, or authoritativeness of the content.

Importance of Nofollow Links

Nofollow links are important for SEO because nofollow links generate additional traffic to a website and improve the backlink profile for off-site search engine optimization. Some nofollow links also pass PageRank value for SEO which is important for a website’s rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

On March 1, 2020, Google started treating nofollow link tags as a hint for the purposes of crawling and indexing content in the search engine and not as a directive. Therefore, nofollow links may pass PageRank value if the algorithm determines it is useful for ranking and indexing purposes.

A summary of the top benefits of nofollow links include:

  • The ability to pass PageRank value for SEO.
  • Creates a natural backlink profile; nofollow links are a natural part of the web.
  • Drives more traffic to a website from other sites that include the nofollow backlinks.
  • Builds brand awareness which is important for generating leads, customers, and sales.
  • Can generate dofollow links from other website owners who discover the nofollow backlink on other sites and choose to also link to it from their domain.

To get more details about these advantages, visit this related guide: Why Are Nofollow Links Important for SEO?

How Nofollow Links Work for SEO

Nofollow links work for SEO by instructing Google not to crawl or transfer PageRank to the destination URL. The nofollow link process allows websites to create outbound links that abstain from being an editorial vote for the target site so it does not add additional weight for search engine rankings.

The process for nofollow links consists of adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute—or one of the other link attributes to identify the nature of particular links as explained in the next part of this guide—to the HTML anchor tag of a link. This tells search engines not to follow that link, thus providing limited SEO benefit to the linked page.

Nofollow Link Types and Examples

There are four types of nofollow links you can use to tag backlinks in a way that directs search engine spiders not to follow the link:

Rel=Nofollow Links

This is the default HTML attribute that should be used for nofollow links when other values do not apply.


<a href="" rel="nofollow" />

Rel=Sponsored Links

This HTML attribute informs Google and other search engines that the hyperlink has been created as part of an advertisement, sponsorship, or other compensation agreement (i.e., paid backlinks) and should not be counted for in page ranking calculations.


<a href="" rel="sponsored" />

Rel=UGC Links

This nofollow link attribute should be used on anchor tags that are part of user-generated content like blog comments and forum posts to inform search engines that the backlinks are not created by the website owner.


<a href="" rel="ugc" />

Multiple Rel Value Links:

You can combine any of the nofollow link types described above to more accurately identify the relationship between the content and the third-party site that’s being linked to. It is perfectly valid to have multiple nofollow backlink attributes on a hyperlink to clarify the relationship between sites.


<a href="" rel="ugc sponsored" />
<a href="" rel="nofollow ugc" />
<a href="" rel="sponsored nofollow" />

Tools for Checking Nofollow Links

Checking the quantiy and quality of nofollow links pointing to your website and your competitors’ sites is a good way to improve your overall search engine optimization strategy. By examining factors like nofollow vs dofollow link ratios, new vs lost backlinks, link velocity, and Domain Authority and Page Authority scores for incoming links, you can find out how your metrics compare to those other sites.

Using backlink analysis tools for measuring measuring and comparing nofollow links in a backlink profile can give you valuable insight into what off-page SEO strategies are working best for your website and the competition to rank high in the SERPs.

The backlink checking tools below are some of the top options you can use for analyzing nofollow links and dofollow links for SEO:

  • SEO SpyGlass
  • SE Ranking
  • Mangools LinkMiner
  • MonitorBacklinks
  • Ubersuggest
  • LinkGraph
  • Sitechecker
  • Ahrefs
  • Semrush
  • Moz

You can find out more about how each of these backlink checkers works by visiting the in-depth review page here: Best Dofollow Link Checker Tools for SEO.

Difference Between Nofollow Links and Dofollow Links

Nofollow links and dofollow links are often confused with each other when it comes to search engine optimization, so it’s good to understand the difference.

The main difference between nofollow links and dofollow links is that nofollow links do not always pass authority to the target website while dofollow links do transfer PageRank value for SEO. Nofollow links are a hint and not a directive for search engine crawlers.

The comparison table below expands on these key differences so you know how each element applies to SEO and the user experience.

PurposeTo pass PageRankNot to pass PageRank
SEO ValueHighLow
CrawledAlways crawledMay or may not be crawled
IndexingAlways used for indexingNot always used for indexing
Anchor Tag AttributeNone requiredrel=”nofollow”

Note: A detailed comparison of dofollow and nofollow links can be found here: Dofollow vs Nofollow Links In SEO.

Nofollow Links In SEO Summary

I hope you enjoyed this guide on nofollow links in SEO.

As you discovered, nofollow backlinks are hyperlinks with a rel=”nofollow” attribute applied to the HTML anchor. And nofollow links inform search engine spiders not to crawl the backlinks or pass PageRank authority of the origin site to the destination site.

Knowing how nofollow links work and why they’re still important for SEO (as explained on this page) can help increase the long-term visibility, rankings, and traffic for your website in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.