After reviewing my content keywords in Webmaster Tools, it seems that Google is identifying the text in non-relevant links as keywords. Is it acceptable practice to implement rel="nofollow" within the script of these links?

  • No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
    – John Conde
    Sep 11 '13 at 15:41
  • haha, ok. I get the point Sep 11 '13 at 15:53

Like I said (dramatically and poorly) in my comments, it is not an acceptable practice. nofollow is designed for webmasters to disavow links on their own website that they do not have editorial control over. The best example of this are blogs with links to the websites of commentors. This was a common source of spam and this allows blogs to allow the users to include those links but they have no SEO value. That is not the case here.

Using nofollow to attempt to manipulate how Google crawls and views your site is a bad plan. Just because Google sees those keywords on your site doesn't mean it doesn't see the other keywords you are trying to rank well for. It sees all of them. And those internal links are helpful for Google to find and index your pages so they're good to have.

If you can't change the anchor text to better keywords then leave everything alone.

  • John you not 100% correct. You can use nofollow internally on links that you do not want Google to crawl, such as links to sign up, register here pages etc, as outlined here by Google: support.google.com/webmasters/answer/96569?hl=en.
    – Max
    Sep 12 '13 at 2:04
  • Although, yes I agree not for anything else, such as the OP is proposing.
    – Max
    Sep 12 '13 at 2:04
  • @Max what if some other webmaster link to it, for example some blogger may said like this "click here to register your new profile on this website". I know you have watch that kind of video from somewhere else, but the real practice is to use robots.txt to disallowed that kind of webpages. You can't control who links to you. John said correctly, by using nofollow like OP does, it just waste of pagerank/juicylink. It is old strategy and Google already said that, by doing that you just sculpt your pagerank. It will not going to help in anyway.
    – Goyllo
    Sep 6 '16 at 12:08
  • @John Conde: I have some internal links that are helpful for visitors. However, they have low search volumes so I don't care about their rankings. Can't rel=nofollow prevent wasting "link juice" to such pages?
    – RubenGeert
    May 11 '18 at 6:46
  • @RubenGeert That isn't how nofollow is to be used. Link sculpting, as that is known, doesn't work and Google has said many times to avoid doing it.
    – John Conde
    May 11 '18 at 11:18

Keep in mind that if Googlebot sees a nofollow on a link on a page, then it treats every link on the page with that same URL as nofollow.

Consider this senario: You have two links on the page to myotherpage.html. The first link has the anchor text "Click Here" because it is prominent to users and usability testing shows that having action words increases the click through rate. The second link has the anchor text "my target keywords". You'd like Googlebot to ignore "click here" so you apply a nofollow to the first link. The problem is that even when the second link is plain, Googlebot treats both links as nofollow. You are not passing any pagerank at all to myotherpage.html.

Google never intended nofollow to be used for directing Googlebot within your site. People have tried to use it to sculpt pagerank or to try to manipulate the keywords that Googlebot sees. Neither approach works well. There are just two many pitfalls that are easy to get into.

  • 1
    Do you have a source of the info on the first sentence? It kinda makes sense, but isn't something I'd heard before. Sep 11 '13 at 18:17
  • Bruce Clay did nofollow testing in 2010 and announced the results at PubCon. He had three findings, the third of which was "If you use nofollow on even one of the multiple links, they all stop passing PR." Here is a thread from WebmasterWorld discussing it: webmasterworld.com/google/4163381.htm Sep 11 '13 at 18:27

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