Matt Cutts Clarifies Appropriate Uses of the nofollow Tag

Oct 11, 2007 • 9:28 am | comments (10) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

A few days ago, we reported on Google's clarification of hidden text and how not to get yourself penalized. This is part of an ongoing "Popular Picks" series in Google Groups and Matt Cutts has decided to clarify the nofollow tag as well.

Matt introduces his post by saying that he had an interview with Rand Fishkin, which we reported on, where he gave some insights into nofollow. But to be clear, let's review what he has added.

Matt says that if Googlebot can't access the page, don't try to pass PageRank to pages. A "sign in" link is a good example of what you should nofollow.

What are some appropriate ways to use the nofollow tag? One good example is the home page of If you visit that page, you'll see that the "Sign in" link is nofollow'ed. That's a great use of the tag: Googlebot isn't going to know how to sign into, so why waste that PageRank on a page that wouldn't benefit users or convert any new visitors?

Personalized pages, too, won't work. He adds that a link like "My Itineraries" has no value to the Googlebot because they vary per user.

Matt also refers you to his own blog post where he says that blog comments should be nofollowed to avoid spam, and he links us to an interview with Eric Enge that also covers some nofollow issues.

nofollow, then, is a tag you'd use if you don't want Google to crawl a link from your page. The links may exist elsewhere (and are followed), though, which means that you may actually see those links indexed.

So nofollow as a link attribute causes Google to drop those links out of our link graph. If you have a nofollow link from page A to page B, we won't crawl via page A's link to discover page B. Note that we may still find page B via other links around the web, though.

Forum discussion continues at Google Groups.

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10/11/2007 02:38 pm

Thanks for the post, didn't think about the fact that it isn't just limited to paid links, but things like "sign-in" links as well. Thanks, Scott

Michael Martinez

10/11/2007 05:38 pm

Matt is providing some good examples. Examples that Eric Enge and other people have provided -- such as using "rel='nofollow'" on your "About Us" and "Contact Us" pages -- are very bad examples. You WANT those pages indexed. You WANT people to be able to find those pages. Nofollow is not a solution for bad internal link structure. People need to fix the problem by fixing the internal link structure, not by pasting nofollow on internal links.

Adam Snider

10/12/2007 07:47 pm

Matt has provided some decent examples there. The only one that gets me (every time) is the one about using it on blog comments to avoid spam. Blogs that have even the slightest amount of traffic coming to them get pretty large amounts of comment spam regardless of whether or not they use nofollow in the comments. Nofollow doesn't prevent blog spam. It might minimize it a bit, since you'll probably get more comment spam if a spammer realizes your comments are "dofollow" and adds you to one of the dofollow lists, but also long as you've got a good spam filter (Akismet, for example), that shouldn't really matter.


10/12/2007 08:25 pm

The real question is, how long will it be before google's guidelines change again? Its a continuing process of speculation and clarification. So many shades of gray.....

Simon Dance

10/15/2007 08:37 am

What about managing links on a page? of example if you were linking to a dynamic page of your site (lets say a product) and you had at least 2 links point at it from your homepage.... would you No follow one of them?

No Name

02/14/2008 05:54 pm

"Examples that Eric Enge and other people have provided -- such as using "rel='nofollow'" on your "About Us" and "Contact Us" pages -- are very bad examples. You WANT those pages indexed. " You didn't read very carefully the example which is VERY GOOD! Here it is: "take pages like their about us page, and their contact us page, and link to them from the home page normally, without a NoFollow attribute, and then link to them using NoFollow from every other page. It's just a way of lowering the amount of link juice they get."

Ruben Zevallos Jr.

06/06/2008 11:05 am

The nofollow issue is for me a very complicated thing... I'm still trying to understand how and when to use it... thanks for the info.


04/05/2011 09:58 am



05/05/2011 09:45 am

On his blog he says now, in 2011 this article is 2007, that he doesn't use nofollow apart on his rss feed, he says neither on his login page, for admin login, etc. There has been new stuff about nofollow about this in last years.


06/27/2013 12:17 pm

Usually itinerary section of travel websites are same is it ok to have same itinerary as of other sites. Does Google have any special algo for travel sites.

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