I have been reading in some places that google may consider linkless mentions of a brand as a ranking signal. For example, a popular brand may be mentioned all over without actual links. Is there any truth in this? If so, on same lines do no-follow links impact ranking as well?

  • 3
    You are talking about citations. No, they are not exactly a ranking signal the way links are, however, they do give strength to a brand as a signal. It does help with branding and allows the brand to be recognized and compared to other brands. In this respect, a web site can see some added strength as a trusted site and possibly as an authority. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Feb 15, 2018 at 6:36
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    You have to be careful when people use the term rank. When Google announced that there were 200 ranking signals, the lists that SEOs created contained items that are not ranking factors. The fact is, there were more than 200 at the time. People often forget that rank is used in two distinctly different ways. One is traditional rank which exists within the index engine. This is where rank lives. However the query engine also has ranking factors that operate upon the result set after rank has already been applied. In this case, rank only applies to the query results and not on the site itself.
    – closetnoc
    Feb 15, 2018 at 7:00
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    This is what makes the whole thing confusing to the non-technical. Rank as it applies to the site is a smaller set of factors whereas rank as applied to a search query result set is different. In this case, rank does not apply to the site but answers the searchers intent. Clear as mud? Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Feb 15, 2018 at 7:04
  • I am bit confused between index engine rank and query engine rank. Is google page rank the index rank?
    – Kannan
    Feb 15, 2018 at 7:45
  • This is where the problem is. It is confusing! Rank for a page or site is within the indexing engine and exist within metrics. SEOs conflate what happens in the query engine as rank applying to a page or site where it is only applied to any specific query. In other words, where an effect is unique to the query engine and the SERPs, SEOs talk about this as rank to the page or site and not what it is, a factor in rendering the SERPs.
    – closetnoc
    Feb 15, 2018 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


I once heard that nofollow links have negative connotations since a link with this attribute will be identified as a reference in which the referrer does not endorse. They simply do not pass value, but not just for what most people believe, it is also because there is a lost opportunity to link or semantically associate both documents (pages).

Mentions on the other hand, reinforce your brand if the citation is within a positive context. Assuming all your website citations are good, you might notice a positive correlation between the number of citations and your website direct traffic, which also has a positive impact in recognising your brand.

Future impact? Nofollow links will definitely generate more traffic and hopefully qualified traffic. Mentions, as long as they are positive, will also have a positive impact in your website traffic. In terms of rankings, only mentions might have a positive impact.


I have heard that linkless brand mentions are a ranking signal as well. When Google discovers your brandname on a webpage, it will use its language processing to determine what that brandname is in relation to.

Google has also had to learn how to differentiate between when a brand name is used and when a normal word is used. For instance, are we talking about the company Apple or the fruit apple?

When google comes across a page and sees it mention your brandname, it will naturally wonder what that brandname is. Is that a new word, a typo? Is it your brand? When it searches Google for that keyword does your domain pop up? If so you are the most relevant page on the web for that keyword it just discovered. Therefore, it must be about you!

The more it sees your brandname mentioned across the web, the more it discovers how relevant you are and how much people are talking about you. Naturally, this has a major impact on the ranking of your brand on Google search.

Google has officially stated that it now focuses on brands, and believes brands are the answer to organizing the internet. The more relevant your brand, the more Google will trust your website.

It makes sense that Google has to understand brands, names, things and celebrities. It's one of the core functionalities of its search capabilities. When someone searches for hamburgers, Google understands that McDonalds is a strong brand in this space and will rank it higher because of it. And so having your brand mentioned across the internet is invaluable for ranking.

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