Adam Lasnik Explains How NoFollow Works

As I wrote about recently, one of the things we need to realize about the web is that content lives forever. An example of this is an old thread at Jill Whalen’s HighRankings Forum (a great forum by the way), which talks about the NoFollow attribute. Note that the posting is dated in January of 2007. In it, Matt Cutts is quoted as saying:

For example, imagine if you had a site with articles in both printer-friendly and web-friendly format. If you wanted to sculpt where Googlebot was going to prevent Googlebot from crawling the printer-friendly pages, you might use nofollow on internal links then.

Later in the thread, Michael Martinez clarifies this by referencing a post from SEOmoz, which he quoted as follows:

Adam Lasnik & Tim Converse both said on a panel today at SES Chicago that they don’t “obey” the no following part of nofollow. Both agreed that a more accurate name would actually be “nolinkjuice” – it doesn’t give anchor text benefit or link pop benefit. They still get crawled as a discovery method.

This is my understanding as well. But just to take my own cut at getting the official word, I asked Adam Lasnik to comment on the thread. Here is what he had to say about it:

– NoFollow links do not pass PageRank.
– If a page is referred to via a nofollow link, we won’t include that page in our index unless it’s linked (without nofollow) from elsewhere.

Therefore, as you might guess, if there’s a page you want to have kept secret or absolutely kept out of Google, you’d be better off:
– putting it behind an authenticated login (best)
– using robots.txt directives or noindex meta tags

…but in many other cases, nofollow remains a convenient and useful tool.


  1. says

    Yes, rel=nofollow is a really poor way to ‘sculpt’ bots access.
    It works effectively for saying ‘see this offsite link? it was put in automatically by a commenter – I don’t know anything about it!!’, but for telling Googlebot you don’t want the destination indexed?
    Poor, poor, poor.
    Pages you don’t want indexed should be blocked in the robots – either via meta or robots.txt.

    Using rel=nofollow to block indexing is just leaving the door open for your competitors to link to your ‘unwanted’ pages and helpfully get them indexed for you 😉

  2. says

    Eesh, that thread exposes how lazy SEOs are 😀 This is one of the easiest things to test. I’ll quote one guy in that thread that actually did some testing:

    “I started a small test linking to two pages one with a nofollow and the other without. Looking at the three main search engines, the link without the nofollow has repeatedly been accessed by Yahoo, MSN and Google robots. The link with the nofollow attribute has only been accessed by Yahoo.

    My conclusion of this test: If the only link to a page is “nofollowed” Google and MSN do not index the page. Yahoo does.”

  3. says

    Simply don’t use nofollow and let the search engines figure it out. It was meant to stop commentspam, but it doesn’t work

  4. says

    rel=”nofollow” does not stop Google crawling the page! And Google does crawl the page.
    It may not index it if the link to that page is only with nofollow, but for sure will index it if some where else there is a link to the same page without nofollow.

    It does not stop Google from indexing the title of the anchor link even though Matt C. told us it has been fixed…

    Maybe the fix takes time to take hold, please check for the changes if they have happened.

    As far as PR juice is been passed that is the question for Google algorithm.

    So, is it worth to post comments even if you do not get PR for the condom link? The answer is definitely yes.
    1. The link will be indexed one way or another when the comments are picked up by RSS aggregators which mostly do not use condoms.
    2. You will get human traffic, which in my opinion is more relevant than what Googlebot send you.
    3. The titel of the link is very important to promote your brand name.

    In conclusion all hoopla aside, following Google Quality Guidelines, make pages for humans not for bots – forget about the freaking PR…

    Follow – nofollow – who cares, it is a waste of time even to think about it.

    If someone comments on my forum and I accept the comments I pass the link juice if not then they are history…plain and simple…

    Matt C. we do not need condoms…

  5. says

    The official claim is that links with the rel=nofollow attribute do not influence the search engine rankings of the target page. In addition to Google, Yahoo and MSN also support the rel=nofollow attribute.

    i think it helps indexing

  6. says

    It makes no sense to me. When is a link a link?

    follow this – in Google and you get a page of backlinks. Yet, if you follow one of them,, you will notice rel=”nofollow” all over it, and where the backlink is placed.

    Put ‘laystar’ into a search engine and you get loads of external backlinks. Yet, do the same –, and you get nothing. This website has been in operation and indexed with Google for at least two years.

    It makes no sense

  7. says

    Assuming said site is getting traffic from all of those nofollow links, real links from that traffic should naturally follow. Since most social networking sites are all about the flavor of the day those links will probably fade into oblivion anyway a few days down the road, never to be seen again.

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