How Can You Effectively Use the Nofollow Robots Meta Tag to Manage Link Equity Distribution and Prevent Search Engines From Following Specific Links on Your Site?


The nofollow robots meta tag is an essential tool for managing link equity distribution on your website and preventing search engines from following specific links. Understanding and using this tag correctly ensures better control over your website's SEO health and link strategy. This guide explores various aspects and provides actionable steps to effectively use the nofollow attribute.

Understanding the Nofollow Robots Meta Tag

What is the Nofollow Attribute?

The nofollow attribute is a value that can be added to the <a> tag's rel attribute in HTML to instruct search engines not to follow a specific link. It looks like this:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">link text</a>

When search engines encounter a link with the nofollow attribute, they do not transfer any link equity (or "link juice") to the target page, which can prevent potential SEO issues from user-submitted links or other content that you don't fully endorse.

How It Works

Google and other major search engines respect the nofollow attribute, meaning that they do not influence the target link in terms of search rankings. However, these links can still be crawled if they are discovered through other means without the nofollow attribute.

  • Distributes Link Equity: Prevents unnecessary page rank flow to untrusted or unimportant links.
  • Manages Crawl Budget: Helps ensure search engines focus on your site's most valuable pages.

Using the Nofollow Attribute Effectively

Common Use Cases

  • Comment Links: User-generated content often contains links that should not pass link equity.
  • Sponsored Links: Paid or sponsored links should always use the nofollow attribute to comply with Google's guidelines [Google Webmaster Guidelines, 2023].
  • Sitewide Links: Links that appear in the sitewide footer or sidebar and are not contextually relevant can use nofollow.
  • Untrusted Content: Links in guest posts or external content where trustworthiness is uncertain.

Implementing Nofollow in Meta Tags

To globally apply the nofollow attribute to all links on a page, use the robots meta tag within the <head> of your HTML document:

<meta name="robots" content="nofollow">

Additionally, you can use it combined with other directives like:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow">

This instructs search engines not to index the page and not to follow any links.

Examples of Using Nofollow

Here's how you can add the nofollow attribute to an individual link:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Example</a>

Nofollow in Comments

Many content management systems like WordPress automatically add the nofollow attribute to links in user comments:

<!-- User-submitted comment -->
<a href="" rel="nofollow">Visit Untrusted Site</a>

Best Practices

Combining Nofollow with Other Attributes

You can combine the nofollow attribute with other values to provide more granular control:

<a href="" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Example</a>
  • noopener: Prevents the new page from being able to access the window.opener property of the original page.
  • noreferrer: Prevents the browser from sending the HTTP referer header.

Regularly audit your site for nofollow links using tools like Google Search Console [Google Search Console] and third-party SEO tools like Screaming Frog [Screaming Frog SEO Spider] to ensure they align with your link strategy and SEO goals.


The judicious use of the nofollow robots meta tag is crucial for controlling link equity and maintaining a healthy SEO profile. By applying nofollow to untrusted, user-generated, or irrelevant links, you can focus your site's link equity on valuable, high-quality links that matter most for your SEO success.