Browse Definitions:
Definition

nofollow

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Nofollow is a meta tag that can be added to a site’s robots.txt file or to individual links to stop search engine webcrawlers from following links on the page.

Normally, webcrawlers follow links to index web pages and tally the links as votes for a site’s quality. The scores of links tag directs the crawler not to do that. As a result, those links are not included in the tally and have no effect on the page’s rank in search engine results pages (SERP).

Webmasters use nofollow to keep crawlers from following links on their pages to locations where spammers are likely to strike. (However, because very cost-effective scripts post many of these links, this does not prevent link spam.) The nofollow tag also helps assure that the search engine does not assume any association between the page where the link appears and the page that the link leads to. A webmaster might use the tag on a paid link to prevent a search engine considering it spam and designating their site and any linked sites a bad neighborhood. Alternatively, a webmaster might use nofollow when they purposely link to a page to demonstrate something negative, such as a terrible design or spammy content, without the link being considered an endorsement.

Initially, link spam resulted from the way that search engines used to assess page rank. As blogs rose in popularity, they also became a frequent location for spammers to drop unrelated promotional links in comments. Spammers added large numbers of links, often with spamming scripts known as spambots. The volume of links could improve the page rank for unscrupulous sites, allowing them to rise in visibility and popularity. To combat this problem, blog software makers collaborated with Microsoft, Google and Yahoo to create the nofollow tag.

Webcrawlers such as Googlebot create an index of a site within the limitations set forth by webmasters in their robots.txt files. Should a webmaster wish to keep pages from being tallied by search engines, they can block webcrawlers in a robots.txt file at the top-level folder of the site. To prevent crawlers from following any links on a given page of a site, they can include the nofollow meta tag for the page in this file; to prevent the bot from following individual links, the webmaster can add rel="nofollow" to individual links.

This was last updated in June 2017

Continue Reading About nofollow

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces.

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

SearchSecurity

  • FIDO (Fast Identity Online)

    FIDO (Fast ID Online) is a set of technology-agnostic security specifications for strong authentication. FIDO is developed by the...

  • cryptanalysis

    Cryptanalysis is the study of ciphertext, ciphers and cryptosystems with the aim of understanding how they work and finding and ...

  • Trojan horse (computing)

    In computing, a Trojan horse is a program that appears harmless, but is, in fact, malicious.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement)

    A cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement) is an agreement between a cloud service provider and a customer that ensures a ...

  • wear leveling

    Wear leveling is a process that is designed to extend the life of solid-state storage devices.

  • storage area network (SAN)

    A storage area network (SAN) is a dedicated high-speed network or subnetwork that interconnects and presents shared pools of ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close