It’s not easy and even SEO experts aren’t in agreement about the best use of follow no follow tags. But just understanding the basics of follow no follow can help affiliates decide how best to use them.
Follow/No Follow for Beginners
At its most basic, the Follow/No Follow attribute (expressed as rel=”nofollow” or rel=”follow”) is simply a message to search engine spiders telling them not include that particular link when determining page rankings. The idea is that certain pages, like paid links and spam in forums, shouldn’t be considered when determining page rank. Originally it was hoped that if there was no value in spamming a forum with links that the practice might be shut down.
Of course, as is often the case, some webmasters began using the tags to manipulate page rankings. The practice, know as page sculpting, allows publishers to to disguise worthless links from Google, while highlighting useful links for page rankings.
While Google officials don’t explicitly say that page sculpting will hurt your overall ranking, they do discourage it for a very good reason; it’s not worth the time. Quality content is, was, and always will be the best way to positively impact Google’s notoriously challenging algorithms. You’re much better off spending time developing value for your customers instead of going after SEO workarounds.
In fact Matt Cutt, the original creator of the no follow tag recommends using them sparingly and not as a means of hoarding good links.
Keep It Relevant
Despite the black hat uses of the no follow tag, there are still plenty of good reasons for using them, in moderation.
You’ll definitely want to use a no follow tag when linking out to questionable sources or sites that don’t have great reputations. Google Panda updates factors in the company you keep and you don’t want a few bad links to bring down your overall ranking.
Most experts do recommend using a no follow tag for internal pages that aren’t relevant to your field. The most obvious examples are privacy policies, log ins and other pages that don’t necessarily impact your overall page rank.
Internal pages with important information like About us and Contact Us are relevant to the big picture and should retain a follow link. The last thing you want to do is wind up hiding your contact information from search engines.
Another situation where you’ll want to keep a follow is when you’ve got a page on your site that contains multiple links to the same site, like an FAQ page.
Getting a Handle On No Follow
Getting a handle on follow no follow tags can be tough, is especially when you’re dealing with hundreds, or thousands, of pages. If this sounds familiar, try using a simple No Follow Finder like this one to help you sort through your site.
When used effectively, follow/no follow tags are a useful component of a big picture SEO strategy.
Do you have any tips for using follow no follow tags? Tell us about them in our SEO Forum page.