Can nofollow links hurt my site’s ranking?

Can nofollow links hurt my site’s ranking?


Today’s question comes from
the United Kingdom. Timmy asks, I’m building links,
not for SEO, but to try to generate direct traffic. If these links are no-follow,
am I safe from getting any Google penalties? Asked another way, can no-follow
links hurt my site? No, typically no-follow links
cannot hurt your site– so upfront, very quick answer
on that point. That said, let me just mention
one weird corner case, which is if you are leaving comments
on every blog in the world, even if those links might be
no-follow, if you are doing it so much that people know you and
they’re really annoyed by you and people spam report about
you, we might take some manual spam action,
for example. So I remember for a long time on
Tech Crunch, any time that people showed up, there was this
guy, Anon.TC, would show up and make some nonsensical
comment. And it was clear that he was
just trying to piggyback on the traffic and drive the
traffic from people reading the article directly to whatever
he was promoting. And so even if those links
were no follow, if we see enough mass-scale action that
we consider deceptive or manipulative, we do reserve
the right to take action. So we carve out a little bit
of an exception if we see truly huge-scale abuse. But for the most part, no-follow
links are dropped out of our link graph as we’re
crawling the web, and so those links that are no-follow should
not affect you from an algorithmic point of view. I always give myself just the
smallest out in case we find somebody who’s doing a really
creative attack or mass abuse or something like that. But in general, no. As long as you’re doing regular,
direct-traffic building and you’re not annoying
the entire web or something like that, you should
be in good shape.

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Comments

  1. No, the point is that any abusive pattern can hurt rankings. But, a nofollow link on its own is not a risk for that. Google respects nofollow, but it's not a death pact… you can't use nofollow to be habitually abusive to the point people report you to Google for spam.

  2. Google is not often 100% clear on things, but they have always been completely upfront that nofollow links are totally ignored by their algorithms. They've been repeating this for years now.

  3. Spam is everywhere. Even in the "nofollow" world. Glad to hear Google is taking some action. Love to see some validation of this.

  4. I'm just wondering how manual action can be taken from a blog comment spammer, not easy to find out without knowing the site for a long time !

  5. Not true. They kept hush and occasionally flat out lied about the no follow links from twitter and other social media outlets.

    NEVER take anything on face value from Google.

  6. Is Chrome about to take-over Firefox??
    Should we read something into that T Shirt Mr Cutts?
    Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?

    Oh the questions are endless 🙂

  7. It's good to have a bit of variation in your links… 90+% dofollow links don't always seem natural for all kinds of sites.

    Don't agree on "they have always been completely upfront that nofollow links are totally ignored by their algorithms". You wouldn't need nofollow'ed links while building dofollow'ed ones for SEO, that way.

  8. Am I the only one thinking about anchor text here? Surely if I have 1000 nofollow "blue widgets" nofollow exact match anchor text links then I'm going to get hit with Penguin for over-optimizing for blue widgets, sure the proportion of nofollows probably isn't any issue unless you are totally abusing it but what about anchor text!?

  9. Same question but change no-follow to follow… You list on a directory to get direct traffic though Google can penalise you for this in it's organic rankings?

  10. So that explains why I seen a bunch of comment spam to my site starting on Sept 5.. Almost like someone knew this was coming and started targeting with neg seo.. Hmm

  11. NO me interesa en absoluto estar suscripto a esta pagina,agradecido de todas maneras, pero quisieran que me cancelen la suscripcion.THANK YOU.

  12. I run a business and advertise in 2 key directories in the UK. I have been doing this for around 10 years. I now see some 50,000 no follow links to my site but my seo recons that I am being penalised by google? Can this be?

  13. I saw several videos of of Matt Cutts, and he NEVER answer yes, or no! He sais "yes… but…." Is there any video that answers clearly?

  14. Should our directory of service providers all be changed to nofollow? If we advertise on a related site, should that link be nofollow? Where is the line drawn?

  15. If i have a link on my website linking out which can hurt my SEO, can I add a nofollow tag and will that prevent my ranking from being hurt? It's an affiliate link and I hate to have to remiove them. but my ranking dropped immediately after adding them.. will nofollow fix this?

  16. just one side question, should affiliate or referral links put on ariticles always be set nofollow instead of dofollow?

    I hear often from some people in youtube videos that affiliate links should be set as "nofollow". is it very true?

    And other question just to be double sure.. if affiliate link should go for nofollow link, then what about "referral link"? They two are considered as the same and any referral link on an article also has to be nofollow?

    Can anyone please answer and let me know?? hmm curious to the death

  17. Not sure if Matt is still watching this topic, but here goes….

    So okay, no-follow will not hurt your rankings BUT, if you use url cloaking for affiliate links, this will right?

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