Monday, June 1, 2009

What You Need to Know About No Follow Links

by Donald MacKenzie

The [rel="nofollow"] (without the brackets) command can be used within the opening link tag in the HTML code of any link to tell search engine robots not to follow that link. As a result, such links convey no benefit to the linked page in terms of page rank.

Where all the links on a webpage need to be 'nofollow', the command can be coded in the HTML head as a meta tag thus:

The 'index' command tells robots to index the page; while 'nofollow' instructs that all of the page's links should be ignored by the search engine robots.

If you did not wish the page to be indexed, then you would replace 'index' with 'noindex'. It is better, however, to do this via a 'disallow' command in a robots text (robots.txt) file as I have found that MSN's live search, in particular, has still indexed some pages that were coded as 'noindex' from day 1.

If you instruct 'nofollow' in the head, you cannot add rel="follow" to those few links that you do wish to be followed as they will still be ignored. The rel="follow" is not a valid HTML command, so it is always ignored. If you are a webmaster that uses it, and there are some, you need to code all of the links individually, so that the nofollow command is applied to specific links and the remainder are followed.

You may wish to use the 'nofollow' command for various links on your website. For example, if you have many affiliate links on a page and do not wish the page to look 'spammy' to search engines.

The nofollow command is also important in relation to search engine optimization (SEO) activities that webmasters may undertake off-site. For example, most blog hosts automatically add the nofollow command to blog comment links to remove this formerly common link spamming device.

Directories of 'dofollow' blogs are available and should be consulted. Note that some forums apply nofollow to signature and in-text links. You can check their HTML if in doubt.

To avoid the nofollow problem, article directories are a good way to build backlinks that will be effective for SEO. Even a few article directories use no follow links. Check the HTML of other articles first to see whether their page head code or links have the nofollow command.

It pays to be careful with SEO campaign choices. Many webmasters unwittingly waste time adding numerous links to nofollow environments.

About the Author

Donald MacKenzie is a Business Consultant and Affiliate Marketing Expert. He wrote the Successful Affiliates Guide and runs several affiliate websites including for car insurance and another to compare car insurance.