What is a NoFollow Link and Why All the Controversy Around it? - Growth Freaks

What is a NoFollow Link and Why All the Controversy Around it?

what is a nofollow link

In the 12 years of its existence, the NoFollow link has spurred quite a few debates. But why exactly is that? And, since we’re on the topic, what is a NoFollow link, to begin with? These are the topics we are going to shed some light on in this article, so keep on reading.

What Is a NoFollow Link?

The idea of the NoFollow link became known to everyone back in 2005. For all intents and purposes, it was meant to fight against comment spam on blogs and websites, a problem that we are still facing today. Since that moment in time, the nofollow link has become a way to identify untrustworthy and paid links. In this way, you can make sure that your website does not get any SEO from the nofollow backlinks.

Very simply put, a nofollow link will tell the Google bots not to take that hyperlink into consideration because it has no SEO value. It’s there only for the users and not for the search engines.

You can see nofollow links as paid links or the ones that appear in comments posted by random people which either the webmaster or the search engine does not trust. So, what’s the controversy around them?

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The NoFollow Link Controversy

Since Google Penguin has been brought out, link risk has been a very real thing. It has also been the focal point of many a heated debate between SEO practitioners and online marketers. Most people will tell you that nofollow links do not have any kind of impact as long as you mark them correctly. They rely on the fact that Google made statements about it saying that nofollows cannot pass a PageRank, which ultimately means that you cannot get a Penalty for them.

But is that true?

That’s actually very hard to tell. For example, if you use a Wikipedia link and mark it as nofollow, you would think that the Google bots will not take it into account. However, as it turns out, given the fact that it is such a high-profile website as Wikipedia, it creates very relevant traffic that will actually help you from an SEO point of view whether you mark it as nofollow or not.

There is also the question of how risky a nofollow link actually is and if Google will penalize you for it or not.

Here is what Google itself has to say about it. From Google Support.

‘In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web.

However, the target pages may still appear in our index if other sites link to them without using nofollow, or if the URLs are submitted to Google in a Sitemap. Also, it’s important to note that other search engines may handle nofollow in slightly different ways.’

Apart from that, there is also the declaration of Matt Cutts, who said the following.

‘typically, NoFollow links cannot hurt your site.’


As a conclusion, all this means that nofollows can actually hurt your website in specific, non-typical cases. Therefore, the controversy and debate surrounding it live on. Now you know all about this and what is a NoFollow link. Let us know in the comment section below what you think about it!

Author: Amanda Knowles