In SEO community these 3 jargons (technical language) are quite popular – DoFollow, NoFollow and NoIndex.
Despite its popularity lots of webmasters and newbie bloggers still unclear and face difficulties while differentiating these 3 terms.
This may be due to the overlapping of certain properties between each other. Or, may be due to the laxity of knowing technical things (SEO) which they consider not so important.
Importance of DoFollow and NoFollow Links
By judicious use of these link attributes you can improve your Google Page Rank.
On the contrary, you may be penalized and even de-indexed from Google for not following proper link attributes while writing paid articles with outbound links. Because Google always considers all outbound links from paid articles as “Paid Links.”
You can also save your blog being a “SPAM Magnet” by implementing NoFollow attribute to the comment section.
In early 2005 Google introduces NoFollow link attribute to fight comment spam in blogs, forums and message boards etc.
If you’re a blogger (or a blog reader), you’re painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites’ search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like “Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site.” This is called comment spam, we don’t like it either, and we’ve been testing a new tag that blocks it.
From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel=”nofollow”) on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn’t a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it’s just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.
Merely few seconds after Google introduced this NoFollow attribute, all leading CMS and forum software packages implemented it in their database.
No wonder, Yahoo and Bing also followed Google’s new search engine standards later on.
Misuse: Wikipedia is the perfect example of misusing NoFollow link attribute, which uses it on almost every pages. It has implemented the attribute on almost all outbound links, including .Gov and .Edu links.
DoFollow Vs NoFollow
By default all regular links are DoFollow. Format of a regular link as below -
<a href=”http://www.mydomainname.com”>Anchor Text</a>
To make the link NoFollow, you have to add the rel=”nofollow” attribute. Now the link format will look like -
<a href=”http://www.mydomainname.com” rel=”nofollow” >Anchor Text</a>
DoFollow link acts as a “vote of confidence” to that particular web-page or site. It sends a “signal of trust” to the Google’s search engine ranking system. It passes link juice (a fraction of Page Rank).
Google also analyze the anchor text within the DoFollow link along with the associated content to rank that particular web-page in search results.
By adding a NoFollow attribute – You are instructing search engines “not to follow or pass any link juice” for that particular link. Because you don’t fully trust the web-page or site. It doesn’t passes link juice.
IMPORTANT: By adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute, basically you are telling the search engine bots to “not to crawl, not to pass link juice and not to pass anchor text benefits.”
But the target page may still appear in Google’s index, if other sites link to it without using NoFollow tag or the owner of the website submits the page URL to Google via a sitemap.
So, you can’t prevent indexing of a web-page in search engines by simply adding a NoFollow tag. Here, you are telling the search engines to not to crawl the site. Not crawling means not indexing.
But you don’t have much control over indexing of the site in SEs by simply using a NoFollow tag. The site owner (webmaster) has the full control on indexing the site in search engines.
If you are using NoFollow tag to your own pages (internal) then it’s up to you, whether you want to index that page or not.
Uses of NoFollow Link Attribute
1. Your blog’s commenting system: This is the grey area where users can add their links (link dump) with their comments. Spammers even add anchor text in place of their actual name to get the search engine benefits.
Fortunately most of the CMS (including WordPress) have made their commenting system NoFollow. If you really want to reward few of your trustworthy and regular commenters, then you can remove the NoFollow attribute or make them DoFollow. For doing this tedious job CommentLuv plugin is really handy.
Same thing applied for the forums also.
2. Untrusted site: If you mention a web-page or site while writing an article, with a link pointing to it, but your are not so sure about the authenticity and trustworthiness, then you should add the NoFollow attribute.
Google don’t like sites who point outbound links to spammy websites.
3. Declaring Paid editorials: If you got paid for writing an editorials with pointing a link to their website, then you have to declare it (Paid links). And the best way to declare it is – Adding a NoFollow attribute.
4. Preserving Google Page rank of your HOME Page: Google assigns Page Rank to every individual pages of a website including the Home page. That means, each pages of a website carry different PRs.
To preserve or improve the Page Rank of your Home Page, you should implement the NoFollow attribute to each outbound links. By doing this you are preserving the link juice of the main page.
If you really want to promote a web-page or content in search engines, then you may DoFollow that particular link from your Home page, in expense of a fraction of Page Rank.
Search engine bots always come to your site with a fixed budget. Let them index the important pages first. Instead of forcing them to index unnecessary pages first by expending their budget completely for useless work.
Always Remember: You should use NoFollow link attribute sparingly on your blog. If you know the website, if you trust the website, then DoFollow them in your content.
The sole purpose of creating a link is to cast the vote of confidence. Link juice passes via the links and help search engines to rank content in a better way. If everybody NoFollow their every outgoing links, how the search engines and how the www will function.
Nobody knows – When Google will change its SEO rules for NoFollow link attribute. To be on safe site, be conservative while using this tag.
NoIndex Meta Tags
By adding a NoIndex meta tag, you are telling search engines not to index the page. I mean, you are excluding the page from the search engine index completely.
The format for the NoIndex tag looks like -
<meta name="robots" content="noindex"/>
1. Despite adding NoIndex tag Google crawl the web-page, but don’t index in search results.
2. Link juice still passes to the Non-indexed page. If you want to don’t pass link juice, you have to add NoFollow attribute along with NoIndex tag. Like below -
<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow"/>
3. If you have a link on your Home page which points to a Non-indexed page, then make it NoFollow to preserve the link juice and improve the Google Page Rank.
4. You can take the help of robots.txt file to prevent crawling and indexing of pages or sections of your website.
5. You can use the URL Removal Tool in your Google Webmaster Tool to remove a URL completely from search results. But the problem here is – It lasts for only 90 days. You have to take interim measures with the help of other tools or methods.
6. The strongest tool or file which can prevent the search engine bots to crawl and index is .htaccess
I hope, I’ve cleared most of your doubts about NoFollow, DoFollow and NoIndex tags and its affects on Page Rank. I know, you still have few newer doubts after reading this article.
Add your queries in the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer them.