Add a Nofollow Attribute to a Link

How to Add a NoFollow Attribute to a Link

In early 2005, three major corporations, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, along with other major blogging platforms, announced the creation of the nofollow attribute in response to their promise to fight the rise of comment spam.

Helping to define the relationship a link has to a page that it points to, rel="nofollow" was born.

Dofollow v. Nofollow

The distinction between dofollow and nofollow link attributes is fairly straightforward and easy to understand:

When you hyperlink a particular piece of text on your website, the basic structure of the hyperlink is as follows: the HTML tag, the URL the link will be going to, the text that will be shown on your webpage for that link, and the closing HTML tag.

From there, it is up to you to decide whether you want search engine spiders to follow that link when crawling your website.


This attribute tells search engine bots that upon discovering your web content and its existing hyperlinks, that you want the links to be followed to the website the link is pointing to and essentially give credit or “link juice” to that website.

• Helps you increase your SERPs by linking to trusted sources that relate to your web content.
• By default, all WordPress links are considered dofollow unless you designate otherwise.
• Not using a nofollow attribute is considered a dofollow (are you following?!)


This attribute tells search engine bots that upon discovering your web content and its existing hyperlinks that you do not want the links to be followed when crawled so that no credit or “link juice” is given to that website.

• Tell search engines you do not approve of the website you are linking to and want no association.
• Helps stop comment spam where people link in comments in hope of increasing their own SERPs.
• Now the nofollow attribute is used for many other reasons as well that will be discussed next.

If you are wondering what a dofollow and a nofollow link attribute look like, check out this example:

Dofollow  <a href="">Link text</a>

Nofollow  <a href="" rel="nofollow">Link text</a>

Why Add a Nofollow Attribute Link?

Whenever you link to any website page, whether it is your own internal website or an external website, you are giving SEO points to that page. Also known as “link juice”, this form of link building (or backlinking) is good for increasing your rank in search results.

This is why internal linking can be so helpful. Not only are you directing current visitors to old content of yours which increases traffic, it exposes readers to additional information that may be of value to them, and it also increases your rank status, especially with Google.

This also why you should never add a nofollow attribute to your own internal linking. The whole point of keeping links as “dofollows” is so that search engines give credit to the website the link points to. You obviously want credit being given to your own website, which is what internal links are pointing to.

It is also worth mentioning that while many website owners insist on adding nofollow attributes to every external link in their content, that if the website you are linking to is reliable, authoritative, and related to your niche, keeping them as dofollow will allow you to reap the benefits of that link juice. Google likes when expert sources (think university level – .edu or governmental – .gov) are mentioned and linked to in web content. Basically, if you trust the source enough to site it in your content, it may as well give you SEO points as a dofollow. However, to each his own.

On the other hand, here are some good reasons why you might consider adding nofollow attributes to your external links:


If you are blogging about a topic that points to websites that follow poor practices, are considered spammy, have ideas that conflict with the overall nature of your website, or are your competition, don’t let search engines crawl those websites and associate them with yours. In this instance, use a nofollow attribute and protect your site.

Blog Comments

Controlling comment spam is a tough thing to do. Especially if your website is a high traffic zone with many people involved in discussions via your comment feeds. Marking all comment links as nofollow will prevent anyone from taking advantage of your comment section and trying to gain link juice from your site. The great thing about this is that WordPress 1.5 and higher have automatic nofollows on all blog comments, so unless you change this manually or use a dofollow plugin, you are protected from comment spam (for the most part).

Paid Links

To avoid being penalized by Google, any ads you display on your website should be nofollow links. And for heaven’s sake, don’t list a bunch of advertorials to your own website on your own website as dofollows. Google is smarter than that people, you will get caught.

Embedded Links

All links that are within widgets or infographics should be nofollow. The reason is because those that use your embedded widgets or images may be unaware they even contain a link and after embedding it on their own web site for whatever purpose could unknowingly be spreading link juice. Now that is hardly fair right? Don’t make other people do your work for you. There are plenty of other ways to get backlinks, higher search results, and increased traffic.

How to Add a Nofollow Attribute to a Link

Ok, so now that you have figured out why and where you would like to include nofollow attributes on your website, let’s talk about how.

Manually Adding a Nofollow Attribute

You can add a nofollow attribute to any link within your website the old-fashioned editor way. Simply switch your content editor view from Visual to Text and add the attribute rel="nofollow" to the external links. In case you missed it earlier in the post, here it is again:

Dofollow  <a href="">Link text</a>

Nofollow  <a href="" rel="nofollow">Link text</a>

Using a WordPress Plugin

Up until fairly recently, if you wanted to add a nofollow attribute to any of your website’s links you either had to do it manually (which is very time-consuming and bo-ring!) or you had the option to turn all external links nofollow using a WordPress plugin such as External Links (which is ok, unless you want to keep certain authoritative links as dofollow to spread link juice and get brownie points from Google).

Now however, there is a cool new WordPress plugin, Ultimate Nofollow, that lets you pick and choose which links you want as nofollow on your website.

In a nutshell this plugin adds a nofollow checkbox in the same place that pops up when you insert a link into your website via the visual editor. You know, this one:

Insert Link Via Visual Editor

Now look at what the popup box looks like after downloading and activating Ultimate Nofollow:

Ultimate Nofollow Plugin Checkbox

Pretty awesome right?

This plugin streamlines the process of adding nofollow attributes to every link in your content making for a good time-management strategy, while also allowing you to maintain the flexibility of choosing which links to let search engines associate with your website.

Final Thoughts

In the end, it is a matter of preference when it comes to making your website’s links nofollow or not. Although there is a seemingly endless debate over which practices are best, it is important to remember that high quality, entertaining, informative, and valuable content is what search engines really want. Whether you spread the link juice or not probably won’t have that much of an effect on your website’s rankings if you work towards building a loyal audience that comes to rely on your website’s content.

However, it is not a bad idea to ask yourself what relationship your website should have to the website you are linking to as you craft your website’s content. This will help you decide whether to share the link juice or not.

What is your preference for dealing with links on your website and why? Have you tried Ultimate Nofollow yet? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!
Image Courtesy of Freepik

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  1. What a frickin awesome article. I’ve got to say, you guys really know how to put out killer content. Thanks so much. I’m really enjoying it.

    1. Thank you so much 🙂

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