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Previously I created a website for promo codes and coupons. That have hundreds of external links to the Retailer's websites and I used rel="nofollow" tag. But my site SEO rank was very very... bad especially on Google.

So then I removed the rel="nofollow" tag, but no improvement.

The only difference between this site and my other sites is "External links". My other sites have good ranking on Google.

Now I'm creating a site for reviews. So this is also similar situation for me.

I just want to know about how does SEO react with external links? and then what possibly happened in my case?

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Sounds like a linkfarm, which gets bad points :) I suggest you read up on proper linkbuilding. And rel="nofollow", because im not very sure you use the proper implementation :) – Martijn Jun 11 '14 at 12:38
@Martijn maybe you are right. But then what do you suggest me to do for a coupon site and review site that have external links. – Anonymous Jun 11 '14 at 12:43
I'm not very sure your site was bad in Google because of rel=nofollow link attribute. This attribute has been implemented by Google for safe external linking if you are not sure about site you are linked to. – Marian Jun 11 '14 at 12:43
I properly explain and write good content for each coupon that I used so every link is relative to landing page. – Anonymous Jun 11 '14 at 12:48
The only difference ... is "External links" - Do the other sites not have external links, or are they nofollow (or follow)? – w3dk Jun 11 '14 at 14:00
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Nofollow should be used on untrusted links only.

If you are curating these links to the retailers' websites (and it sounds like you are) then there is no reason to use nofollow.

If users are posting those links, then you should either use nofollow, or implement a whitelist of sites for which you omit nofollow.

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You should definitely use rel="nofollow", removing them may cause your site SERP to decrease.

Using follow links means that you are passing juice (trust) to the other site, as well as that you are receiving some back, so although you are doing your work correctly you may still get harmed from the reputation of other sites.

There are a milliard other reason why your site ranks poorly (good competition may be one of them).

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Yeah... I agree with you "good competition MUST be one of them" – Anonymous Jun 11 '14 at 13:11
Unless involved in some sort of link scheme (e.g., taking something in exchange for a link), or you're linking out to something spammy or otherwise suspect, I'm not sure why you'd use nofollow. There's no harm at all in passing PageRank to good sites via links that aren't part of some scheme. support.google.com/webmasters/answer/96569?hl=en – GDav Jun 11 '14 at 13:29
Yeap but what is defined as a scheme is not up to you, nofollow are used for the only reason to differentiate paid,spam links form good ones but if you use follow links on many external sites as in this specific case you might be considered as one of the above cases. It is not about what you think you are doing, if you get caught from PANDA you are pretty much done. FYI nofollow links may harm your ranking also youtube.com/watch?v=QSEqypgIJME – Jonid Bendo Jun 11 '14 at 13:40
Re "as well as that you are receiving some back" this is not true. Linking to another page does not give PageRank back to you. – DisgruntledGoat Jun 11 '14 at 20:34
Well passing pagerank and passing trust is a whole different thing, and it actually is true. I will not start arguing why this is true. But i suggest you to Google before commenting. I also assume you never heard of link demotion... – Jonid Bendo Jun 11 '14 at 21:39

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