What is a nofollow link?

Learn what a nofollow link is, how it works, its origin story and the importance for search engine optimization (SEO).

What is a nofollow link?

A Nofollow link is a link that is marked with the attribute rel="nofollow" is attached to the link. This attribute signals to search engines that they should not evaluate this link as a recommendation or trust signal when evaluating the linked page. This is to prevent the link from influencing the ranking of the linked page in the search engine results.

How Nofollow Links Work

When a website operator inserts a link on his page, a connection is usually established between the two linked pages, the so-called link juice or link energy. This connection is used by search engines in their evaluation of websites to assess the relevance and quality of the linked page in relation to certain search terms.

With the use of Nofollow links, this connection is interrupted. Instead of passing on the link power to the linked page, the Nofollow attribute stops this process. The use of nofollow links is useful, for example, when linking to websites with little credibility, sponsored content, or affiliate links.

History and origin of the Nofollow attribute

The Nofollow attribute was originally introduced by Google in 2005 to counteract the increasing number of spam links, especially in comment sections of blogs. Websites that linked to other websites to influence their search engine rankings were identified as a problem.

The Nofollow attribute offered webmasters a way to respond to spam links without negatively affecting the linked pages. It became a standard tool in the fight against link spam and was later adopted by other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo.

Nofollow links and SEO

Although Nofollow links have no direct influence on a website's search engine ranking, they can be quite helpful and useful in the context of a balanced link strategy. Since they reflect the natural progression of the Internet and signal a certain level of trust, it is advisable for website owners to have both do-follow and nofollow links in their link profile.

Nofollow links can also bring indirect benefits to a website by generating traffic and increasing visibility. Visitors who arrive at the site via a nofollow link may prove to be a valuable audience, sign up, make purchases, or recommend the site on their social media.

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