I am working on a site that has hundreds of product pages. Each product page has up to 10 images, 1 main image, and the rest as thumbnails that load in as the main image when clicked.

The thumbnails have this code in the page:

<a href="/image1.jpg" class="thumb"  rel="nofollow">    
<img src="/image1.jpg" />

<a href="/image2.jpg" class="thumb"  rel="nofollow">    
<img src="/image2.jpg" />

<a href="/image3.jpg" class="thumb"  rel="nofollow">    
<img src="/image3.jpg" />

<a href="/image4.jpg" class="thumb"  rel="nofollow">    
<img src="/image4.jpg" />

<a href="/image6.jpg" class="thumb"  rel="nofollow">    
<img src="/image6.jpg" />

<a href="/image7.jpg" class="thumb"  rel="nofollow">    
<img src="/image7.jpg " />

I am concerned that the image gallery links are pouring away link equity. Should I just remove the nofollows or have them rebuild gallery?

  • follow up question. do a hrefs to images create a dead end for pagerank. is there anyway to stop this? Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 13:39
  • Your example code links to the same image as used in the thumbnail - is that really the case?
    – DocRoot
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 23:37

2 Answers 2


You should never use nofollow on internal links. Nofollow is meant to mark links that you don't trust so that Google won't pass PageRank to untrusted sites. Since you trust your own site, nofollow isn't the right tool for the job.

Using nofollow never preserves any PageRank for your own site. Google has said they simply let the PageRank that would be passed via a nofollow link evaporate rather than distribute it to the other links on the page. Trying to use nofollow to hoard PageRank doesn't work. Using nofollow never helps rankings for the page it is on or the other pages that page links to.

Using nofollow can hurt the URLs you are linking to. In your example, the images are unlikely to rank in Google image search because you are nofollowing the link to them. If nofollow is used on one link on the page, Google treats all duplicate URLs as nofollow. So in the case where you nofollow the <a href to the image, Google will also ignore other uses of the same image like you <img src.

In the end, it doesn't seem to matter for rankings if you throw away lots of internal PageRank to useless URLs your own site. I've experimented with paring down the links on our sites to remove tons of links to pages that aren't meant to rank for anything important. Things like: user profiles, ads, redirectors, and images. Removing tons of those links from our site didn't help our SEO for our "good" pages at all.

Bottom line, you don't need to worry about "wasting" link juice by having extra links to your own URLs.

You should:

  • Remove the nofollow.
  • Leave the image gallery otherwise the way it is.

No, you can leave it as it is - this is a very common example of thumbnail links to larger images (i.e. Lightbox). I am assuming the links are not actually to blank pages with the images on it and no link back to the site (i.e. trapping the crawler).

Additional what you can do - if these images are for example product or service images you can use schema.org vocabulary and add structured data to describe what they are (creating value by doing so) - SE will give you kudos for that :)

<div class="product-container" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product">
  <link href="product-image.png" itemprop="image"/>
  • Hi - Sorry for the delayed response. Yes these are actually blank pages with the images on it and no link back to the site (i.e. trapping the crawler). Does this change the situation? You sound like you know a lot about this. A reply would be most appreciaited. Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 13:44

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