We’re all familiar with the concept of using the nofollow tag for external links, but there aren’t too many people who actually use it for internal links. The main reasons you should use the tag for internal links is because it can reduce duplicate content as well as control what pages you are giving more weight to. You only have so much juice that you can spread throughout your site, so why not spread it to the pages that count instead of wasting it on useless pages. Here are some of the things I like to nofollow internally:

Privacy Policy
Terms of Service
Trackback URLs
Comment RSS feeds
Duplicate navigation items (the ones that are getting linked 2 or more times from a page)
Banner ads

If you are thinking this is too shady or not worth doing, here is what Matt Cutts has to say about it:

The nofollow attribute is just a mechanism that gives webmasters the ability to modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity. Plenty of other mechanisms would also work (e.g. a link through a page that is robot.txt’ed out), but nofollow on individual links is simpler for some folks to use. There’s no stigma to using nofollow, even on your own internal links; for Google, nofollow’ed links are dropped out of our link graph; we don’t even use such links for discovery. By the way, the nofollow meta tag does that same thing, but at a page level.

I know my advice on using the nofollow tag on internal links may be a bit basic and has been beaten to death, but it seems many people still don’t get why you should use them. Other than stopping useless pages on your site from getting too much juice, you can also control which of your content gets index. Yes content is king, but if you have a low PR site and thousands of pages of content, you may notice that you are getting very little search love. My removing (through the nofollow tag) the less worthy content on your website, you usually can get a decent boost in search traffic. This is especially effective if you have a PR 4 or lower site with over 1000 pages of content.

Have any of you tried using the nofollow tag on internal links? If so what type of results did you notice?

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

120 thoughts on “Do you use the nofollow tag?”
  1. Hmm interesting, I started using the nofollow tag more ever since I read about David Airey getting unfairly penalized by Google 🙁

  2. How would using Disallow for those pages in your robots.txt compare to modifying all of your links to have nofollow?

  3. I actually understood that by having alot of follow links on your blog posts/pages linking to other posts/pages on your blog will keep your content from being duplicated and ending up in the supplementals.

  4. That’s interesting. I had no idea that having the “nofollow” attribute on internal links would reduce duplicate content.

  5. Wow. Great information. I never really thought of using nofollow for internal linking.

    Thanks for the tip.

  6. No-follow is a very poor way of preventing pages from getting indexed and that is not its purpose. On a reasonably popular site, it is virtually impossible to keep pages out of the index using no-follow on internal links. All it takes is one link anywhere on the web and the page will get indexed.

    Your best bet to prevent indexing is either to use robots.txt or place a meta noindex,follow tag on the page that you don’t want indexed.

    I’d also contend that you are way better off using these methods to prevent internal pages from being PR hogs, simply because it is very hard to no-follow every link to those pages on your site. Pick the pages you don’t want to get PR, and noindex,follow those pages.

  7. You could also just use robots.txt. Two benefits to this: 1) It’s quicker and 2) Yes, Google says it’s alright, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be alright for Y! or MSN or Ask. No need to possibly shut them out when there’s another easy solution.

  8. Good post. We’ve been using NoFollow on internal links for a while now. It allows to control the flow of page value through a site. In fact. To respond to a couple posted comments:

    1. Nofollow has nothing to do with Indexing a page, so it won’t help with duplicate content.
    2. Disallow in your robots.txt file prevents a file from being indexed by the search engines.

    NoFollow tells a search engine that you have a link but you don’t want to pass any “credit” (pagerank for Google) to the page being linked to.

  9. Great post, Neil! I’m an in-house SEO for a large medical “Clinic” in SE Minnesota. We are about to launch a redesign of our 26,000 page site. The redesign looks great and we were able to programmatically optimize all metadata on all pages of the site. However, the one downfall of the new design is that the navigation has become bloated – in some cases increasing links on our high-ranking content pages by 200%. Because many of the links are navigation links (e.g., an alpha disease list containing 27 links that appears in the left nav on each disease page as well as its own stand alone navigation page), we will be implementing no-follows on those nav items while allowing higher level stand-alone navigation pages and our site map to do their jobs of controlling SE indexing. If left uncorrected, the large increase in links per page would dilute the value of each link and the juice that is passed to subsequent pages.

    To clarify for the reader asking about using robots.txt versus no follow. Robots.txt can be used when you want to prevent one or more pieces of content (duplicate or otherwise) from being indexed by search engines. It can also be used to disallow crap pages with weak PR from being indexed, hence boosting the overall quality/PR of your site. On the other hand, no-follows can be used when there is already a path for search engines to find the content you want indexed (or when linking to Government sites that are useful for the end-user but that kill you in the rankings;-). By reducing the number of links on a page using no-follows, it increases the PR value that is passed for each of the remaining links.

  10. This is a very good idea. I imagine that boosts to ranking will be minimal at best, but either way I’m going to recommend it to my SEO clients

  11. I am going to implement this once I get more pages indexed. Is there some plugin for this for wrdpress?

  12. nofollow tag? Stop referring to it as a tag, there is nothing more aggravating than when someone writes an article and gets it all wrong, yes you read Matt Cutts article — hoooray! but its an attribute and it’s not rocket science on it’s implementation …

  13. Since Matt’s comments on seomoz, I have been thinking a lot about which content is important and what is really important. It feels weird to cut off some pages from search to give a boost to others. I guess like pruning a tree….

  14. […] I read this post on shoemoney and i just wanted to say that for all internal links i use d0-follow tags, i’ve never removed the no-follow tag for any external links such as on comments..etc […]

  15. Aaron mentioned the same thing on his blog (giving nofollow to the internal links), but his reason of doing it was different. On his blog he blogs 3-4 times a days so the number of posts are just too much and the importance once dont get the link juice they actually deserve.

  16. robots.txt will block google from indexing pages i think, but this nofallow is useful to control pr juice with in site.

  17. there are some pages which should be nofollowed – such as contact us, etc. But in general, I think the nofollow tags are overused.

  18. I also think nofollow tags are overused and that eventually an excessive amount of nofollow tags will be seen as trying to game the system just to achieve pagerank.

  19. Internal nofollow tags be be of great use. I’ve seen Sitemap pages and other odd pages out rank the home page of sites. They are very valuable for internal linking.

  20. Great topic. One thing I didn’t see mentioned by scanning over the comments was the categories wordpress generates. I put no follows on those. I think thats the most common way you’d want to use this for fellow wordpress bloggers.

  21. It would be nice if you could explain the concept of your site only having a limited amount of “juice” for search engines. I wasn’t aware that there was a limitation on the amount of “juice” a site had when being indexed by google and pageranked.

  22. Take a look at the source code for sites like Technorati. They’ve got nofollow everywhere. It’s hard to find one that isn’t nofollow. I understand the nofollow on blogs and such, but some of the internals seems a little weird.

  23. Careful everyone and don’t get too excitied about nofollow.

    Yes, today it looks a great tool but what about tomorrow?

    What for example if next year extensive use of the nofollow tags your site as being ‘too seo’?

    I was about to heavily implement it on a site I run but in the end didn’t for the argument above.

    So I think it’s good but don’t overuse it especially for SEO purposes.

  24. I don’t quite understand why you would not want a public page indexed. So what if it is a privacy policy… maybe someone is searching for examples of privacy polices… or someone is searching for YOUR site’s privacy policy… now they won’t find it since you said not to index it.

    If you don’t want something indexed… (ie – private stuff) then password protect it… require login.

    Waste of time worrying about this stuff if you ask me… all for what… the chance at a 10% bump that may only work for this month until the algorithm changes again…

    Better to just focus on building a good site…

  25. I’ve been using nofollow on internal links for the past couple years, both to limit pagerank from going to pages and for controlling reputation.

    Really, it takes 2 minutes to do and it can make huge differences in how you funnell pagerank within your site. I’m kind of done trying to convince people to use it or that it’s the right way to build a site. But to those who say your site looks ‘too SEO’d’, please. If a site has a keyword in the title tag and a majority of links with the keyword in the anchor text, then that site also looks SEO’d. In the day and age where a 30 ebook can give you all the basics of SEO, I don’t see what the big deal is with using nofollow on your site.

  26. Nofollow is clearly useful for removing weight from less relevant parts of your site. The pages suggested in this article are sensible and make sense. Gotta spread that Guice around sensibly!!

  27. Matt said “link-level granularity”

    ha ha ha I like how that sounds.

    I think I’m going to go modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity. 🙂

  28. No follow tags are over-used basically, thats all i have to say. Will wait till shoemoney is back and see what he has to add.

  29. I find it funny that Yahoo! Uses no follow on their Answers.yahoo board. When this is Google thing. Why the f does yahoo care about putting no follow on answers. lol. They must of god a incentive to use it.

  30. I run a forum, so nofollow tags are quite essential for me as forum administrator to reduce the amount of duplicate content on the forum. Not only nofollow tags, I also use disallow quite a few pages from being spidered by using robots.txt

  31. Won’t using no-follow on Private Policy hurt your quality score with Google? the bots want to see that.

  32. […] tags have been popping up a lot as a discussion topic lately. A guest poster at Shoemoney talks about how it’s good to use nofollow tags internally to improve SEO for your site. At the same […]

  33. This is a good reminder for me. I worked out a variety of places to use nofollow on one of my sites and really need to get around to doing it to the others. It just strikes me as a good way to control the clutter of pages that really don’t need link juice.

  34. I think nofollow is ok at least we don’t get as much spam as others, also people now that “doFollow” are abused by other bloggers. For example go to google type in “U Comment I Follow” there is tons of blogs that you can get free links. And people do abuse it.

    I wrote more about it on my blog if you are interested Shoey.

  35. It is not about indexing SockMoney 😛 Its about the link juice which will pass through the link.

  36. Well some folks are talking about using robots.txt instead… which lead me to think it was for telling spiders to ignore stuff… sorry.

    I try to stick with the fundamental advice Matt Cutts gave at Pubcon last year (and probably every year). Keep your site easy to use for all types of visitors (mobile, text-readers, etc)… and the rest will fall into place. Internal no-follow tags have no benefit to any type of user experience… hence I leave it for everyone else to worry about…

    However if you look at other fundamental SEO stuff… titles… H tags… meta info… alt tags… order of your content… etc… all that is very important to a text-reader trying to translate your site…

  37. No Follow is good to use on pages wherein pagerank or emphasis is not required. But typically for a site where pagerank propagation is desired one should use it judiciously.

    I seldom use on my sites but have done it on my clients.

  38. Christopher Kata comented best above –
    “Nofollow has nothing to do with Indexing a page”

    It’s not about not wanting a page t obe indexed, it’s about not wanting to waste your link juice on a page with crummy anchor text that doesn’t matter anyway,
    It’s about maximizing the flow of your own link juice only where you want it (I E. your good anchor text links to relevant pages you wish to rank)

    It’s not black hat, it’s not a trick, ait’s totally permissable even endorsed by Matt / Google etc., and likely not to go “out of style” since Google’s whole algorithm is based on link juice. Nofollow prevents the flow of that juice.

    Is it going to make or break a site? Unlikely, but refocusing the flow of PR from a site with a bunch of overdiversified Green bar ranking for non relevant pages to strategic categorized (or “themed”, “silo’d” or whatever you want to call it) sections of your website can make a huge difference.

  39. Why should we do this again? Help with rankings? PR hoarding? Stop PR leakage? Help Google?

    No thanks! I think my websites and client websites will rank just fine without worry about nofollowing these types of pages. Also I have no idea why someone would want to keep these pages out of the index anyways. Even if you did want to keep pages out of the index, robots.txt is a better option as mentioned above.

    I would love to see some test case studies where this was done and they saw rankings sky rocket from it.

  40. AFAIK, They just want to know you have it. Putting a nofollow shouldn’t technically hurt it… at least it hasnt hurt me.

  41. Started using nofollow when it came out actually. We use it primarily to manage our cross linking between various websites. But most importantly to manage “buy now” links with product information passed through request variables. When we did this, we saw visits increase by 100% and still growing. We attribute the growth to the funnels we created for the spiders.

  42. […] Do you use the nofollow tag?, ShoeMoney […]

  43. You’re an SEO?

    Nofollow vs. robots.txt. I’m assuming you read the part about Link Level Granularity. Nofollow is a way to keep the page in the index, but just not send an overwhelming amount of links to it. So you want to get a ‘contact us page’ in the index, you follow 1 link and nofollow the other 2999 that are on your site.

    Nofollow works for controlling link reputation. So you nofollow a ‘home’ link (You don’t want to rank for ‘home’ do you?) and put ‘keyword’ link in the footer.

    hackersafe, bbb, trustseals, affiliate links, all should be nofollow’d.

    If you run a 15000 page ecommerce store, trust me, it makes a huge difference to link to a page once to get it in the index, but not link to it the other 14,999 times.

  44. It helps the publisher by keeping the pr juice in-site. But for the site it points to it’s worthless, because let’s face it … you would take page strength over traffic any day

  45. Thanks for the tips. But there has been no page rank update since I started my blog. And now I’m starting to wonder if there ever will be. If Google got rid of Page Rank, would this still be worth it?

  46. I’m doing a little follow, no-follow tag experiment at the mo!

    I think the no-follow tag is invaluable for the preservation of integrity of highly reputable websites – and don’t think that the googlebots don’t count your no-follow tags either – cos it’s an excellent way to tell that you have a committed and responsive community of commentors – which in itself is an indication of the authority of any site!

  47. i do follow. it`s a nice way for new blogs to get some traffic and some incomming links. i think some of the big time bloggers should do some do-follow too because they haven`t started as a big time blogger.

  48. A pagerank update doesn’t mean that pagerank is any less important. That’s the equivalent of saying that because google doesn’t show all the links in a backlink search that links are no longer important to google.

  49. Since we are on the subject, I have a question regarding internal nofollow tags on a site that struggles to be well indexed by Google. I have a lot of categories in the left navigation of the site and I can’t really get rid of them. Would it be beneficial to place the nofollow tags on the left nav links? I’m open to suggestions. Thanks.

  50. “so why not spread it to the pages that count instead of wasting it on useless pages”

    I don’t understand the logic here. You’re simply reducing the pagerank of your “useless pages” for no gain. If you didn’t use nofollow you wouldn’t lose anything on your main pages, so you’re just shooting yourself in the foot.

    The reason people talk about using nofollow internally is for linking to things like “print friendly” pages so they don’t get duplicate content in Google (whicah can be bad), or links to recent comments so Google doesn’t pick the URL up as a copy of the page. It doesn’t make sense to reduce your rank on even “useless” pages with no gain.

  51. By nofollowing a link, that pagerank gets pushed into follow’d links on that same page. So if you have 10 links on a page, 1/10 of the PR of that page is going to each link. If you nofollow one of the links, the PR is shared between 9 pages which means more PR per page.

    PR not used here will go someplace else. That’s the point of using the nofollow on internal links. You’re using PR on more valuable pages.

  52. There is antecdotal evidence of Google looking fondly on the existence of privacy policies, contact info, etc. If you nofollow pages such as privacy, etc. would those still be counted for your site (if they indeed look at them)?

  53. I only use the nofollow tag on certain links on my pages “send message” “edit this page” etc to stop google from clicking these links and then just getting locked out.

    I dont see any reason to use the nofollow tag for outgoing links.

  54. I usually use robots.txt rather than no follow, but some points mentioned here are convincing me to switch

  55. I follow nearly everything in this post except for reducing site size of a low PR site in Google’s eyes for attaining better SERP results. I was under the impression that Google favors content-rich sites, and that it’s especially important to make these pages available when you have lower PR, as it increases the chances of receiving linkbacks (more content to find, higher chance someone will find something worth linking). Obviously, if you have a worthless page, nofollowing it makes sense… but why create it in the first place?

  56. H1 tags, title tags the simple SEO stuff IMHO is never going to be a problem but it’s the excessive use of nofollow that might at sometime in the future tag your site as being ‘too SEO’d’

    I’m talking about Siloing and other strategies etc.

    Just think about the long term benefit (or non-benefit) before you all cover your site with nofollows.

  57. If you can’t get comfortable with a concept that matt cutts has gone on record saying is ok, then you must be a ultra white hat. You’re just making up your own theories at this point and could be limiting yourself because you’re not trying to do what works now instead of in the future.

    Wikipedia is covered with nofollows and just conserves PR within their own site. Doesn’t seem to hurt them.

  58. Why use nofollow tags? If your blog is active and you have regular readers and visitors commenting and leaving their URL’s also, it’s a great way to provide a linkback to them, and make sure that all your pages are indexed on your blog, your leaving traffic on the table if you use nofollow…

    Terrance Charles
    http://www.terrancecharles.com

  59. HELM, WHM/cPanel, Windows, Linux and SEO Blog » Blog Archive » SearchCap: The Day In Search, September 27, 2007 says:

    […] Do you use the nofollow tag?, ShoeMoney […]

  60. […] best rundown as to why this is such a bad idea comes from Jeremy Shoemaker’s blog. Not the post itself but a comment left by one David […]

  61. This is actualy 2nd time I see this advice and I realy started to think about it. I think I should give it a try since my SERP is not very good.

  62. Why use the nofollow? We’re supposed to build sites as if Google didn’t exist right? So why are we being advised to help Google do their job determining which sites have value or not. Sure, I may use no follow if I write about a company scamming making sure that my link won’t get mistaken as a recommendation. Other than that my advice is to either link to a site or you don’t.
    Linking to a site using nofollow is like a doctor telling a woman she is “a little bit pregnant”.

  63. Aha, now that would be a reason. I didn’t realise the passed rank was split between links, I assumed they’d all get the same increase. I guess it has to be that way to stop link farming! 😀

  64. Good idea! I noticed your lyrics site dropped a few in the SERPs – did you implement it already?@!

  65. Agreed – I HATE the fact tha twiki pedia doesnt offer reference really to it’s sources… I mean yea a few clicks here and there but where’s the PR we all give them?!?

  66. I agree with Terrance Charles and Mike Dammann. Nofollow tags are over used and I like visitors commenting and leaving their URL’s because it’s a great way to provide a linkback to them

  67. You probably could, by detecting the user agent, but I don’t see the point, especially because it will add an unwanted load on your server

  68. That’s right SEO next, robots.txt is good to block the pages that you don’t want to be indexed. For example “Contact”, if you are using wordpress all the wp- (from your wordpress configuration) *security tip*, etc..

  69. The no follow tag is kinda artificial. I understand why it was introduced – but I would think the internet should be moving toward more natural linking. ANd comments are a genuine link!

  70. I use nofollow tag for my list of directories on my page. Links without nofollow I use only for top 25 websites section and partners section

  71. I just applied this to my site where I link to affiliate programs, now I will see if the rankings get bit better.

  72. I added the no follow tag but in the end the only benefit was the traffic ffrom being on the list.

  73. i only use nofollow link for external link if necessary. Although i havent try yet, i dont really feel that doing that on internal will improve PR. Even if it really will, it is too insignificant. Spending the time to build links will be much worth it.

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