SEO Tip #59: Should I Use the NOFOLLOW Attribute on Internal Links?

Matt Cutts: Well, I think I have actually been relatively consistent over time which is to say, at best I’ve said it’s usually a waste of your time. It’s a second order effect.

You’re much better to spend your time creating new content that will get links rather than worrying about PageRank sculpting within your own site. So let me just say a little more clearly: I would not use NOFOLLOW on internal links.

The reason is PageRank comes into your site, it flows throughout your site based on the links that you have on your site. If you add NOFOLLOW on your internal links that’s causing your links to drop out of the link graph. They don’t flow PageRank anymore.

So instead of the PageRank flowing around naturally on your site suddenly some of it just sort of evaporates or disappears. So at least for the links within your own site I would almost always make sure that they flow PageRank, that is don’t put NOFOLLOW on those links.

Now there can be very, very specific situations where you might not want specific pages crawled. For example the login page, maybe if you’re TripAdvisor or Orbitz, or Expedia or something like that you might not want Googlebot to come to your login page because there is nothing there for Googlebot to login on.

But even then most of the time it doesn’t hurt to have the login page in the search results. It doesn’t hurt to have your privacy page or your about page or whatever in the search results. So the vast, vast, vast majority of the time I would say don’t add NOFOLLOW on internal links. Go ahead and let PageRank flow however you want.

If you want to change your architecture of your site and put some parts of your site closer to the route so that there is fewer links, so that more PageRank flows there that’s a great way to change how PageRank might flow within your site. But I wouldn’t use NOFOLLOW because I think that does more harm than good.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.