Trying to decide if I need to nofollow links that link to images.

Tried searching but could not find the correct answer anywhere.

I'm not talking about links that have image within them instead of anchor text, I'm talking about something like:

<a href="http://domain/ceo.jpg">anchor text</a>
  • 2
    What are you hoping to accomplish with the nofollow? Are the image links submitted by users and not trusted? Feb 22, 2019 at 1:25
  • Yes the images will be uploaded by users.
    – zen
    Feb 23, 2019 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


Personally, I've never come across anyone nofollowing such links. That doesn't mean it's wrong to nofollow them; that all depends on your particular case, as Stephen alluded to in his question.

When you nofollow a link, you're usually doing it for a couple of different reasons:

  1. You don't want to signal to search engines that you trust this link, or you simply don't want to be associated with it for some reason.
  2. You don't want to pass the link juice you mentioned, preferring to keep it for your own page instead of spreading it around.

In Stephen's example, user-generated content is a good use case for nofollowing. Actually, you'd want to nofollow any link your user posts, such as links in replies on a message board, because you have little to no control over what gets posted.

Now, if you have a blog post, and you've linked to a meme here, an image from another website there, I'd say don't waste your time nofollowing. If your page only links out to a few images, you're unlikely to see a difference in rankings, because the loss of link juice will be miniscule. You have to link out to a lot of stuff to really lose link juice from your own page.

One of the companies I worked for had a website with a Leadership page. The photos of the dozen or so executives linked out to their LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn is a reputable website, though a lot of their content is behind a login wall. I nofollowed all those links, just to see if saving the page's link juice would drive it up in SERP's. It did nothing, probably because there were only a dozen profiles and the page's content was on the weak side anyway. I realize this is a different linking structure from yours; I'm just illustrating the point that in cases of a few images here and there, you're unlikely to move the needle either way.

So, for your particular linking structure:

  1. Don't worry about nofollowing on a regular website page, unless you want to distance yourself from that link.
  2. Nofollow on user-generated content, or on a spammy-looking page that's all links. (Or, avoid creating that page in the first place.)
  3. Be mindful of the source where these images come from.
  • Yes it will be user uploaded images. I want to let Google index these images but I do not want these images to take link juice away from the main page they are linked from. I don't know if that makes sense?
    – zen
    Feb 23, 2019 at 15:14
  • 1
    @zen I still think the simplest thing to do that would cover everything is to nofollow all links from user generated content posted on your website, if possible, for the aforementioned reasons. Feb 24, 2019 at 3:53
  • Yea I'm thinking that's the best thing too. Google can index the thumbnails that link to the larger sized images. And users can click on thumbnails to view full size if they choose to do so. Thanks
    – zen
    Feb 25, 2019 at 20:57
  • @zen You got it. Cheers! Feb 25, 2019 at 21:09

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