What is Rel=NoFollow & When Should I Use It?

Many marketers ask these questions:

  • Exactly what is rel=”nofollow” and why should I care?
  • Should I add a link to my other websites even if they are related/unrelated?
  • Do I need to add rel=”nofollow” on every single link?
  • Should I add rel=”nofollow” for internal links?
  • What exactly are the rules for rel=”nofollow”?

Why Was NoFollow Invented in the First Place?

Since Google announced that receiving links to your site helped to make your site rank higher, marketers have been trying to cheat the system ever since.

Immediately, spammers began creating their own networks of websites that all link to one site.  This one site is supposed to be the Mother site, which makes all the money, conversions, or gets all the influence.  This worked for a long time, unfortunately.

Blog comments and bulletin boards were inundated with horrible comments and multiple spammy links because user-generated content was a great way of building backlinks.

Matt Cutts at Google decided to take action.  Matt Cutts suggested an invention of a small bit of code that would help quell the motivation for spammers to leave links that simply manipulated the algorithms.  Rel=”nofollow” helps to stop the unnatural linking by disincentivizing spammers from leaving high quantity, low-quality links all over the web.

Since 2005, rel=”nofollow” has been the standard to deter spammers and by 2007 the linking standard had altered for Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Let’s take a look at what rel=”nofollow” is and when it should be used.

What is Rel=”nofollow” Anyway?

Rel=”nofollow” is bit of code, added to a hyperlink, which tells Google DO NOT COUNT this as an inbound link/do not allow this link to influence any link equity.  Rel=”nofollow” makes a statement, “I am not trying to cheat the Panda Algorithm, I just want a link here!”

A regular (follow link) looks exactly like this:

<a href=”https://www.yoursite.com”>Go to my friend’s site</a>

A nofollow link looks exactly like this:

<a href=”https://www.yoursite.com” rel=”nofollow”>Go to my friend’s site</a>

Since links with rel=”nofollow” are not counted by Google and do not help a site’s popularity, they can be added for usability purposes without the risk of punishment.

Should I add a link to my other website?

If you have multiple websites and you want to link to those sites, simply add the rel=”nofollow” code to every link that points to that site.  Once this is done, you are protected from being punished.   If you have wordpress, there are plugins that can automatically add this code to every link on your site.  I did this for over 100,000 backlinks on 4 sites and it took less than an hour.

Will I Get Punished For Having 1 Link To My Other Website?

Perhaps one or two links do not matter, but I worked with a company that had 1.5 million links out of 3 million total links all coming from their own micro-sites.   They really were smart people, just a bit greedy.  But that greed cost them well over $10M dollars.  They had a Penguin Penalty for over 18 months and didn’t know it.  Google NEVER tells you about an algorithmic penalty.

When we added Rel=”Nofollow” to 1.5 million links, after a few months the penalty was lifted and that company earned $45Million more dollars in 18 months.

Should I add rel=”nofollow” for internal links?

No.  You do not have to add rel=”nofollow” to links that lead to other pages within your site.  Internal linking is designed to help distribute link equity and can’t influence PageRank authority.

When Is It Appropriate to Have Rel=”nofollow” Links?

Example:   When a corporate website owns… say…. 4 different businesses, it is natural that they should link to each of those business websites.  However, to ensure that the parent company is not trying to influence the rank and visibility of the 4 other sites by linking to them, they can simply add rel=”nofollow” to each of those links.

This eliminates any passing of link juice to those sites and informs Google, Yahoo, and Bing that there is no malintent – just user-friendly links.

Any user-generated content, application, or content to any link generated by a site visitor should automatically add rel=”nofollow”.

Automatically adding this to a link keeps spammers at bay and protects the site from online Ne’er-do-wells getting the site punished.  Why?  Because they know they will not benefit from adding a link to your site.  Rel=”nofollow” will not help them rank better.

What is a Private Blog Network and Why Don’t They Use Rel=”Nofollow”?

A private blog network (PBN) is a network of sites all owned by the same entity but kept secret from Google.  PBNs try to influence ranking by strategically buying or building multiple sites and then strategically creating links between them to benefit 1 of the sites.  They do not use rel=”nofollow” because they are the Ne’er-do-wells I spoke of earlier.  They are trying to cheat the system.   When they are caught, the sites get punished by limiting their visibility or sometimes an outright ban.

What exactly are the rules for rel=”nofollow”?

Any website or group of websites that are owned by the same entity (person or corporation) should have rel=”nofollow” when linking to each other or any link that is user-generated (blog comments, bulletin boards).  This protects all sites.

Any link to an external site, that is not a user-generated link, can have a regular link without the need for rel=”nofollow”.

Pretty simple, really.

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Here are the basics of the video written out with most of the slides.
caption template writing website contentThis lesson is called Captions. Captions are a short description at the top of a page that describes the service or product. This is a short description that really is an introduction to what the page is about. This section should also contain internal linking and text-decoration to help a person decide that THIS is the correct page that will give me all the information that I want and need.

The content in the caption will ALWAYS be “above the fold” that is, viewable without having to scroll down the page. Often, Google looks at the content above the fold first and makes determinations as to the subject matter.

Never make a visitor take action to ensure they have arrived on the correct page. Without scrolling or clicking, they should be able to scan the content quickly to determine that THIS is the best, most congruent page available.
pyramid of basic seo title tags meta descriptions h1 tagsA solid foundation of structural SEO begins with a few basics:

- Title Tags – invisible when you look at a page, but it is embedded in the code of a page
- Meta Descriptions (Meta means information or information about something)
Title and Meta Descriptions are both Meta Tags – it tells Google and other search engines and directories what the page is about

- H1 Tags – an HTML element that acts like the Title of the page – it is viewable to the page viewer
- Captions – This is an OP term that basically means it is a description of the page content usually 150-500 words. Located at the top of a page
what are caption and how do they helpWhat Are Captions? Think of Captions as an on-page glorified Meta Description. They are used for people and search engines alike.

Captions provide all the useful information a person and any search engine needs to ensure this content is useful + adding internal linking and text-decoration also helps.

Captions should be placed at the top of a page, above the fold.
caption template writing website contentIn this template, you have a minimum of 6 sentences.

Let’s break it down into 6 separate sections and then put it together at the end.

- 1 Creative Introductory Sentence

- 1 Sentence Summarizing the Service 

- 1 Umbrella Sentence About the Company or Owner
- 2 Detailed Sentences about the industry and specific information to that service including incentives, benefits, personas, geolocation, and more

- 1 Conclusion Sentence that reinforces this is what the visitor wants and maybe a call to action
caption 1 example writing page contentWrite a creative introductory sentence to ensure a human being and a bot can tell that this page content is not created by a machine and is not generic in nature. It can be any type of creative sentence that discusses the service or product.

"A professional teeth cleaning, besides daily brushing and flossing, is one of the best things a person can do to keep healthy teeth for a lifetime.

Dr. Acula likes to see his patients twice per year to ensure there are no early signs of gum disease, foreign objects stuck in the crevices and to apply a protective coating of fluoride, which reduces cavities by 18% (1). "
summarize services or productsThe second sentence summarizes the service.

Repeat the service name and boldface it.

The link will lead to a page that discusses plaque and the best ways to combat it.
captions seo discuss business owner or businessThis section should be easy, it is a sentence about the business or the business owner. You can include "save the cat" type information, list awards the person has won, sponsorships for local kids teams, philanthropy work and include social proof information.

Dr. Acula was the first Dentist in St. John to accept all forms of insurance and offer a discount on services when clients paid cash. Today, we have served over 8,500 customers including 2,300 families since 1984. <-- that's great social proof, credibility and a bit "save the cat."
incentives benefits seo contentThis is an opportunity to write about the industry and to include incentives, benefits and the like.


"If you schedule recurring teeth cleanings there is always a 15% discount plus a FREE GIFT of a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to ensure you are ready and motivated to maintain your teeth and gums. "
caption phone number linkThe final section and a call to action. Link the telephone number no matter what page it is and always provide the visitor with some idea of when they can make an appointment. Give convenience information.
manual captions exampleThis slide represents all the information together. This entire section took only 10-12 minutes to write because of the template.

There is nothing worse than a blank sheet of paper or an empty screen. Use the template to help begin the process of creating great content.

A professional teeth cleaning, besides daily brushing and flossing, is one of the best things a person can do to keep healthy teeth for a lifetime. Dr. Acula likes to see his patients twice per year to ensure there are no early signs of gum disease, foreign objects stuck in the crevices and to apply a protective coating of fluoride, which reduces cavities by 18% (1).

A professional teeth cleaning usually includes an initial set of x-rays to ensure there are no cavities. This is assessed by the dentist and is with modern technology, only takes 5 minutes. Next is an examination of the teeth and gums followed by very light cleaning and flushing of plaque between the tooth and gums. We finish up with flossing, rinsing and fluoride treatment.

Dr. Acula was the first Dentist in St. John (get directions here) to accept all forms of insurance and offer a discount on services when clients paid cash. Today, we have served over 8,500 customers including 2,300 families since 1984.

If you schedule recurring teeth cleanings there is always a 15% discount plus a FREE GIFT of a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to ensure you are ready and motivated to maintain your teeth and gums. A beautiful smile is always free.

Call Today to schedule your appointment for a teeth cleaning at (312) 555-1212 or via our online schedule. We are open from 10am until 6pm Monday – Thursday.
google comments on panda algorithmThis is directly from Google about having little or no original content. This template can help you create original content.

Take note when creating content. Make your content as unique as possible. Even when using a template, unique pages could seem too similar, so review your content every 5-7 pages to ensure your content is always unique.

manual captions slide 21 Creative Introductory Sentence

1 Sentence Summarizing the Service 

1 Umbrella Sentence About the Company or Owner

2 Detailed Sentences about the industry and specific information to that service including incentives, benefits, personas, geolocation, and more

1 Conclusion Sentence that reinforces this is what the visitor wants and maybe a call to action

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