What Considerations Should Be Made When Deciding to Remove Nofollow Attributes From Previously Tagged Links on a Website?


Deciding whether to remove nofollow attributes from previously tagged links requires a nuanced approach. This decision impacts search engine optimization (SEO), user experience, and site reputation. Below is a detailed guide to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding the nofollow Attribute

What is nofollow?

The nofollow attribute is an HTML tag that instructs search engines not to pass link equity through the specified link, thereby not influencing the ranking of the linked site [Qualify your Outbound Links, 2023].

History and Purpose

Introduced by Google in 2005, the nofollow attribute was designed to combat spam and untrustworthy content by webmasters [About rel="nofollow", 2023].

Key Considerations for Removal

Ensure the links are to reputable, high-quality websites. Removing nofollow from low-quality or spammy sites can harm your website’s SEO [Google Nofollow, UGC & Sponsored Link Attributes Explained, 2023].

Content Relevance

Evaluate whether the outbound links provide substantial value and relevance to your readers. Removing nofollow can be beneficial if the links enhance the content and user experience [The Beginner's Guide to SEO, 2023].

SEO Impact

Understand the potential SEO implications. Removing nofollow on high-quality links can improve your website's SEO by passing on link equity [What are the New Nofollow Link Attributes?, 2021].

Differentiate between types of links:

  • Sponsored Links: Always retain nofollow as per Google's guidelines to avoid penalties.
  • User-Generated Content (UGC): Scrutinize the quality and legitimacy before removing nofollow.

Reference Google’s recent changes to link attributes [Evolving “nofollow” – new ways to identify the nature of links, 2019].

Best Practices for Removal

Conduct a thorough audit of all existing nofollow links to identify which ones are potentially worth removing the attribute from [How and Why to Audit Your Links, 2020].

Gradual Implementation

Implement removals gradually and monitor the impact on SEO. Keep an eye on your website's ranking and traffic changes to ensure there are no negative repercussions [Link Building Hub, 2023].

Utilize additional link attributes like rel="ugc" for user-generated content and rel="sponsored" for paid links to comply with Google's guidelines and improve link differentiation [Google says link attributes aren't requirements, but best practices, 2023].

Monitoring and Evaluation

Regular Monitoring

Regularly monitor the impact of removing nofollow on your site's rankings and organic traffic. Use tools like Google Analytics and Search Console for tracking [Guide to Google Search Console, 2023].

Feedback Loop

Establish a feedback loop with your SEO team to regularly evaluate the performance and make adjustments as necessary [A Comprehensive Guide to On-Page SEO in 2023, 2023].


Removing nofollow attributes can be beneficial if done correctly and cautiously. Consider the link's trustworthiness, content relevance, and SEO impact carefully. Regular audits, gradual implementation, and consistent monitoring are essential strategies for successful implementation.