Nofollow Backlinks: Demystified for SEO Success

By:  Dileep Thekkethil

Updated On: March 16, 2023

Are you curious about the world of backlinks, particularly nofollow backlinks, and how they can impact your website’s SEO? 

You’ve come to the right place! 

In this friendly and comprehensive guide, I’ll dive deep into nofollow backlinks and how they fit into your overall SEO strategy. 

So, let’s jump right in!

What are Nofollow Backlinks?

To kick things off, let’s first define nofollow backlinks. 

When other websites link to yours, they’re giving you a “vote of confidence,” which search engines, like Google, love to see. 

However, not all backlinks are created equal, right?

Some carry more weight than others. That’s where the distinction between dofollow and nofollow backlinks comes into play.

Nofollow backlinks are those that have a rel=”nofollow” attribute in their HTML code. 

This attribute tells search engines not to pass any link equity (also known in SEO terms as “link juice”) through the process of hyperlinking. 

In other words, nofollow backlinks don’t directly contribute to your website’s search rankings. 

But don’t write them off just yet – they still have their place in a well-rounded SEO strategy!

Have you ever heard about UGC and sponsored attributes? 

They represent the evolution of nofollow backlinks. The rel=”ugc” (user-generated content) and rel=”sponsored” attributes were introduced to provide more context for search engines about the nature of the link. 

These attributes also function essentially as nofollow links, but with added specificity.

Reasons for Using Specific Attributes for Backlinks

Now, you might be wondering why anyone would want to use these backlink attributes in the first place. Well, there are several good reasons!

  1. Discouraging spam and low-quality links: By using nofollow attributes, webmasters can discourage their websites from endorsing content that they are not confident about. This way, they tell search engines that their website found it as relevant but doesn’t endorse it as high-quality or low-quality page. Thus such links won’t pass any link equity.
  2. Paid or sponsored links: When you receive compensation for a link, such as through advertising or sponsored content, it’s important to use the rel=”sponsored” attribute to maintain transparency and adhere to search engine guidelines.
  3. User-generated content: Websites with user-generated content, like forums and blog comments, often use the rel=”ugc” attribute for external links to prevent spam or low-quality backlinks from affecting their SEO.

When linking to websites that you’re unsure about or don’t necessarily trust, it’s wise to use the above link attribute to protect your own website’s reputation and search rankings.

Pros and Cons of Nofollow Backlinks

As with most things in life, nofollow backlinks come with their own set of pros and cons.


  1. Protecting your site’s reputation: By using nofollow attributes on potentially harmful or untrusted links, you’re taking a proactive step in safeguarding your website’s reputation.
  2. Avoiding search engine penalties: Search engines may penalize websites that have a large number of low-quality or paid links tagged as dofollow. Adding nofollow attributes can help you avoid these penalties by indicating the nature of the link to search engines.
  3. Controlling link equity distribution: With nofollow backlinks, you can control how your website’s link equity is distributed, preventing it from being passed to low-quality or irrelevant websites.


  1. Not directly improving search rankings: Nofollow backlinks don’t pass link equity, so they don’t have a direct impact on your search rankings.
  2. Limited or no link equity transfer: While nofollow backlinks can protect your site from low-quality links, they also limit the amount of link equity that can be transferred to your site through valuable and high-quality nofollow backlinks. This might hinder potential growth in search rankings.

The Role of Nofollow Backlinks in SEO Strategies

Despite the cons, nofollow backlinks still play a crucial role in your SEO strategy. Let me explain how:

  1. Balancing dofollow and nofollow links: A natural link profile consists of both dofollow and nofollow backlinks. Search engines may view a website with all dofollow links as suspicious or manipulative, so having a balanced link profile is essential.
  2. Nofollow backlinks as a part of a natural link profile: While nofollow backlinks may not directly contribute to your search rankings, they can make your link profile appear more natural and diverse, which is something search engines appreciate.
  3. Indirect benefits of nofollow backlinks: Nofollow backlinks can still offer several indirect benefits, such as driving referral traffic, increasing brand exposure and credibility, and creating networking opportunities with influencers and experts in your niche. Additionally, Google is considering the nofollow backlinks as a hit about which links to consider or exclude within Search.

Monitoring and Analyzing Nofollow Backlinks

To maximize the benefits of your nofollow backlinks, it’s essential to track your backlink profile and analyze their impact on your SEO efforts. Here’s why:

  1. Importance of tracking your backlink profile: Keeping an eye on your backlink profile helps you understand the balance between dofollow and nofollow backlinks, identify any spammy or low-quality links, and discover new link-building opportunities.
  2. Tools for monitoring and analyzing backlinks: Numerous tools are available to help you track and analyze your backlink profile, such as Google Search Console, Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush. These tools can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your link-building strategies.
  3. Evaluating the impact of nofollow backlinks on your SEO: By analyzing your nofollow backlinks, you can assess their indirect benefits, such as referral traffic, brand exposure, and networking opportunities, which can ultimately contribute to your website’s overall growth.

Nofollow backlinks are a vital part of a well-rounded SEO strategy. While they may not directly improve your search rankings, they offer several indirect benefits and help create a balanced, natural link profile. So, don’t shy away from building nofollow backlinks – they can be a valuable asset to your website’s growth!

Remember, the key to success in SEO is continuous learning and adaptation. Stay updated with the latest SEO trends, best practices, and algorithm updates to ensure your website stays ahead of the competition. By incorporating both dofollow and nofollow backlinks into your SEO strategy, you’ll be well on your way to achieving online success. So, go ahead and start building those nofollow backlinks, engage with your audience, and watch your website grow!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does Google consider link attributes seriously?

Google is on a never-ending onslaught against websites that indulge in link schemes and other paid link building practices. The new attributes are tailor-made to help websites avert manual penalties. Google wants all paid links on a site to have either the attribute “sponsored” or “nofollow” as these two will not pass ranking signals or link juice.

Do I need to change the existing link attributes?

It’s obvious that some of the outbound links on your website may have the no follow link attribute. You don't need to change this to UGC or sponsored as Google has not made any major changes to how it reads the no follow tag. Moving forward, Google recommends using these two new attributes based on the context of the link. 

Will “nofollow” attribute be a ranking factor?

This seems like a never ending discussion which will continue till Google explicitly say that it's not. However, here are some of the recent twitter interactions of Google's official to add more context  to this discussion.  Danny Sullivan in a tweet said, "In the past, as the post explains (post related to the announcement of no-follow being a hint), we just wouldn't use the links at all. The change meant we'd consider them if there was some usefulness to be found, though the hint means aren't likely to give them as much, if any, weight."


Dileep Thekkethil

Dileep is a recognised SEO expert and an author who has been active in the SEO industry for more than 12 years. He currently contributes to Stan Ventures and has written articles on more than 100+ publications about SEO and digital marketing in general. You can reach him using the links provided below for any SEO queries that you may have. @Mail | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook or View all posts by Dileep


3 thoughts on “Nofollow Backlinks: Demystified for SEO Success

  1. Thank you for this awesome SEO information Sir. I do have some few questions, can someone has 1000000 back links and above? Is there anything wrong with having too many back links?

    1. Joe,
      I don’t think the number is going to create any problem but the way you got to the magic number is what Google is looking into. If all backlinks came to you naturally, let me tell you it’s an achievement. Out of this even if 50k are from low quality sites, and more than 500000 are from decent quality sites you are going to do great. But if you turn the tables around wherein you have just 50k decent quality backlinks and 5000000 low quality ones built using spammy practices, embrace for impact.

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