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“Rel Nofollow” Tag Disrupts SEO Potential

Stored in Online Marketing and tagged
Search engine optimization

Rel nofollow in the HTML coding of website pages is both a curse and blessing for search engine optimization.

It has made it much harder for spammers to get higher but bogus search engine rankings. At the same time, it has made it much harder for legitimate websites to get higher and legitimate search engine rankings.

Even more, this disruptive tag has created more problems for websites to pursue what has been a traditional and popular tactic in search engine optimization.

What is Rel Nofollow?

Rel nofollow is a tag that goes into the code of a link on a webpage. It prevents search engines from “following” the link from the linking page to the landing page. Because the search engine doesn’t follow the link, it doesn’t give any value to that landing page. So the link is useful to human clicks — if the link attracts any — but has no usefulness in search indexes.

“RelNoFollow is an elemental microformat, one of several microformat open standards. By adding rel=”nofollow” to a hyperlink, a page indicates that the destination of that hyperlink should not be afforded any additional weight or ranking by user agents which perform link analysis upon web pages (e.g. search engines),” according to the community wiki.

An example of a nofollow tag looks like this: <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>link words</a>

The letters “rel” refer to the relationship between the linking page and the landing page. That landing page may appear on the same site or, more likely, another site elsewhere.

How Does It Help or Hurt SEO?

Search engines look on “dofollow” links, meaning links that aren’t nofollow, as votes in favor of the landing page. So if a site gets a dofollow link, the landing page often gets a boost in search engine results. A nofollow link guarantees no boost.

But a site can improve its search engine profile even if it doesn’t get dofollow backlinks. If it links out to other sites, the publisher can make sure those links also are nofollow. If they are dofollow, the linking page loses the value that the landing page obtains.

Site publishers will find that nofollow links are common among major sites with advanced search engines. They can feel thankful if they are lucky enough to get dofollow links, which are much harder to obtain in the current online environment.

They have much greater control over linking out to other sites. They should use dofollow links sparingly and make nofollow links a priority to avoid weakening their own pages.

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