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The true value and risk of NoFollow Links


This is our survey of the global SEO industry on the opinions and experiences about effects and risks of NoFollow links in SEO.

The true value and risk of NoFollow Links

Share your experience with us to build the most fundamental research and get an option to win a couple really nice prizes.


Table of contents

Two types of links – Follow and NoFollow

There’s a common saying among marketers and SEOs that not all links are equal. Some links are more valuable to Google and have much more SEO value or «link juice» as others. Those two types are «DoFollow links» & «NoFollow links».

Opinions and Experiences on NoFollow Links

Let us concentrate this time on some issues about NoFollow links, the type of links currently discussed by many SEO experts worldwide.

  • What impact do NoFollow links have on the ranks, and how does Google evaluate them?
  • Can one get a Penalty because of risky NoFollow links in the backlink profile?
  • Should NoFollow Links be disavowed?
  • Should we care about NoFollow Links, or are they worth nothing at all?

These and many more questions are asked by SEO experts nowadays.

There are two major SEO schools on NoFollow links:

– one states that Google does not follow them and thus they have no risk and value at all. This goes in line with Google stating in various places that NoFollow don‘t “pass PageRank™”

– the other is saying that they might pass over trust and “juice” and be a spam indicator. Because Google generally tries to identify spamming intents, many SEOs believe that NOFOLLOW links can, under certain circumstances, still be harmful to search engine rankings and result in manual penalties. We also regularly hear from clients that their penalty was only lifted after they investigated and removed large quantities of NOFOLLOW links.

New NoFollow Evaluation Mode to serve both NoFollow schools

To serve both “SEO schools” Link Detox® just recently introduced the option to let the user pick the NoFollow analysis strategy based on his personal opinion.

The NoFollow Case Study

Our current study pursues to confirm or deny the hypothesis of those SEO masterminds believing that risky NoFollow Links might still be one important reason for giving out Google manual Penalties, although Matt Cutts has stated that their algorithm takes "NoFollow" literally and does not "follow" the link at all.

Another day he mentioned that “a sufficiently large number of NOFOLLOW links could also pose a problem”, contradicting yet another statement from Jo Müller of Google. More details and videos can be found here.

A number of studies have revealed that Google actually follows the link, but does not index the linked-to page, except when the page was indexed already due to other DoFollow links. Please remember this part as you go through our study.

Time for action

So we believe it’s about time to aggregate and present more experience and opinions from the SEO community on this confusing topic.

We would appreciate if you could take few minutes of your precious time and participate in our survey below.

Your support to gather sufficient data will be highly appreciated for our analysis.

Prizes to be won

By contributing to our research you can win one of the following prizes.
All prizes will be drawn in a randomized lottery from all who completed the survey in full.

  • 1x Prize tier #1 One LRT Superhero subscription for 3 months
  • 2x Prize tier #2 Two hours SEO Consulting via skype with a Certified LRT Professional
  • 10 x Prize #3 for existing LRT users: 10 BOOST credits
  • 10 x Prize #4 for existing LRT users: 10 DTOX credits
  • 10 x Prize #5 a comprehensive BLP Report of your site

PS: Our lawyers told us to remind you that legal recourse to the courts is not permitted on the drawing.

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Here is the link to the survey again

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Christoph C. Cemper

Christoph C. Cemper is the CEO and Founder of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox. A well-known and distinguished expert in SEO who started link building for clients in 2003, building the Link Research Tools since 2006 and marketing it as SaaS product since 2009. When the famous Google Penguin update changed the rules of SEO in 2012, Christoph started Link Detox, software for finding links that pose a risk in a website’s backlink profile. He introduced ongoing link audits and risk management to the market in early 2011. In 2015, Christoph introduced Impactana, a new technology platform and SaaS product to measure the success of content beyond “social buzz”, to find content, videos and people that make an impact.

Christoph C. Cemper

Christoph C. Cemper

Christoph C. Cemper

Latest posts by Christoph C. Cemper


  1. Maggie January 6, 2015

    A good article. As I am new to the SEO topic it was an eye opener (especially that I did not realise any ‘no follow’ threats before. Thanks:-)

  2. @lnkresearchtool July 31, 2014

    What is YOUR opinion on The true value and risk of NoFollow Links?

    • Michael Bergen August 1, 2014

      Hello Chris,

      I am a believer that nofollow links can still cause issues as we start to see more penalization towards intent, in addition to the severity of the backlink profile.

      In the age of dynamically generated sitemaps and indexing services, the nofollow is simply a small technicality that Google has already overcome.

      Matt Cutts said it himself after all that, most of the internet is followed links. We’d be foolish to think that they don’t already have an index of what’s on the other side of a nofollow, or that they aren’t able to correlate the two.

      I always review nofollows as I think they always have a story to tell about the past SEO practices of a site.

  3. @lnkresearchtool July 31, 2014

    What is YOUR opinion on The true value and risk of NoFollow Links?

  4. @LinkDetox July 31, 2014

    What is YOUR opinion on The true value and risk of NoFollow Links?

  5. @MBSeoService July 24, 2014

    The true value and risk of NoFollow Links via @cemper

  6. @giamille July 17, 2014

    The true value and risk of NoFollow Links via @cemper

  7. @seonational July 15, 2014

    The true value and risk of NoFollow Links –

  8. @lnkresearchtool July 14, 2014

    NoFollow Links Risk Survey

  9. @cemper_at July 14, 2014

    Quo Vadis NoFollow Links

  10. @lnkresearchtool July 14, 2014

    NoFollow Links Risk Survey

  11. @PageRankSEO July 14, 2014

    The true value and risk of NoFollow Links /by @cemper This is our survey of the global #SEO industry

  12. @LinkDetox July 14, 2014

    NoFollow Links Risk Survey


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