The “Nofollow” sign should have alerted the Googlebot to turn around, but it remained steadfast in its determination to pursue this final link. As the Googlebot peered its head through the crawlspace it noticed a faint light in the distance. The walls were peeling and lined with cobwebs that obscured the light. As Googlebot placed its hand on the floor to follow this link, a sea of black and yellow sac spiders began retreating back into the basement of the website.
“Don’t go in there,” the website owners pleaded, but the Googlebot was only spurred by its curiosity. As it reached the end of the dingy path, a crackling and clicking noise could be heard. As Googlebot emerged from the pathway it screamed, “Ahhhh!”
Witches and sorcerers in blackhats danced around a cauldron, summoning portals to different websites. It was worse than the Googlebot had thought. These black hat sorcerers were summoning paid links!
What is a Rel+Nofollow Link?
Every website has some skeletons in its closet and the easiest way to make sure they don’t get crawled is by inserting a “rel=nofollow” tag on a URL. This microformat tells search engine robots and creepy spiders not to crawl that link pathway. This prevents any authority from being passed through that link from the linking webpage.
A nofollow link is used by many websites to disassociate themselves with the website being linked to. Major publications, such as Forbes and Huffpost will always insert a nofollow link on its webpages so that they are not perceived as endorsing the site being linked to. This protects their website from any search engine penalties that come from paid link schemes. Remember, a link created solely to boost SEO value is subject to penalty. Forgetting this could lead your link building strategy to some spooky places.
A nofollow link does not prevent links from being indexed. Nofollow tags are generally considered better strategies to prevent URLs from being crawled than inputting that URL into your robots.txt directory.
Your CMS should allow you to insert a “rel=nofollow” tag or else you’ll have to do it manually.
Some examples where a nofollow link will be suitable include:
- Links from third party blogs
- Links from comments and forum sections
- Paid links
- Link farms
- User-generated content websites
Why Does Google Crawl Nofollow Links?
While a nofollow attribute will guarantee no authority is transferred between your site and the destination URL, there are still cases where webpages could be crawled. Google has never confirmed that nofollow attributes are foolproof and there many other pathways that could lead Googlebot to the destination URL.
Staying White Hat
So is there no SEO value in nofollow links? In fact, numerous case-studies have shown that nofollow links could indirectly boost organic keyword rank through the amount of affiliate traffic being generated.
The aim of your content production strategy should be to compound its reach to drive eyeballs back to your website. With a mix of influencer marketing, social media marketing, and affiliate marketing, you could earn links back to your content naturally by extending its reach. Plus, a link portfolio with nofollow and dofollow links looks more natural.
Avoid Black Hat Sorcery
There are black hat tricks everywhere and search engines have become better at spotting paid link schemes and other tricks. Stay white hat using nofollow links when necessary to protect your website from being penalized.