What’s rel=”nofollow”?

Depositphotos 51007199 s
Reading Time: < 1 minute

By default, whenever anyone comments on your blog WordPress will add rel=”nofollow” in the link. I didn’t realize this was something that WordPress actually did… but I was curious why anyone would utilize it.

Google actually utilizes rel=”nofollow” to simply ignore a link when calculating a website’s Pagerank. The theory behind automatically adding this information in blogging content engines was that it would dissuade comment spammers from clogging up blogs. The problem is that comment spammers really don’t care about their site’s Pagerank… they simply care about getting the link out there for people to click-through on.

Additional information on nofollow:

  1. WordPress on nofollow
  2. Wikipedia on nofollow
  3. Dofollow Plugin for WordPress. UPDATE: this plugin was actually breaking some of my comments so I removed it. Read my post about hacking the WordPress source code to remove nofollow from the source.
  4. Nofollow Plugin for WordPress. This plugin allows you to even nofollow your own links within the content you’re writing. We utilize this on Martech Zone.


  1. 1

    Thanks for pointing out the Dofollow plugin Doug. I was aware that WordPress added rel=”nofollow” to links in comments, and I definitely agree with your logic that as long as comments are being moderated, any relevant links left in the comments deserve their due credit.

  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

    Is there a way to choose which link I want to let be followed (wow, curious language construct I made)? The reason is when I reference some crappy site with crappy information on it, I?d rather not promote it too much. Not as a censorship (if I reference to, say, political opinion that is much different than my own, but if it is well founded and well put, I have no problem promoting it), but as a way to fight entropy and dig down crappy content.

    I have no problem manually editing links. I usually edit comments to add Google Analytics outgoing links, link titles and fix visitors typography, but it?d be nice to automate it to some extent.

  5. 5
  6. 6

    Ya, that might be easier than to try to delete them. I keep all the oft-used elements like that in my Opera?s Notes (quite handy to have bits, pieces, and code snippets right inside your browser at all times), so it really is just copy-paste for me.

  7. 7
  8. 8

    I agree Doug. If you are going to the trouble of reading and moderating each comment anyway (which you should be) then it makes sense to reward genuine comments with a proper link.

    You will get more “Great post” comments as a result, but those go straight into the recycle bin anyway.

    The obvious spammers have names like “SEO expert” or “Web design Atlanta” or something keyword loaded. The genuine ones usually have real names like “Lisa” or “Robert”.

  9. 9
  10. 11

    I run a Drupal-powered website, so it installs without rel=nofollow, and you have to install a plugin to add this. I though about doing this for a while, but realized that the only reason for doing so is a puerile sense that the comments I am leaving on other people’s sites aren’t giving me page rank, where as I am giving them page rank. I decided to leave it as it is.

    Most people moderate their comments so why penalize those who take the time to leave a useful comment on the site?

    I’ve added a commenting policy to my site so that I don’t have to feel bad about deleting the comments that are in the grey area.

    For example, if someone leaves a comment that says “nice site”, I propose to delete the comment, unless they leave the URL field blank. Without such a policy, I felt compelled to check the link and decide based on the site.

  11. 12
    • 13

      Yes, not all search engines respect no-follow. It just so happens that Google, being the big boy on the block, does though. I’m not sure about Live, Ask or Yahoo! Might take some digging to figure out.

  12. 14

    Good job – I’m very much anti-nofollow.

    Any link should be counted, or you shouldn’t allow the link to exist. I know of people who purposely add nofollow to links within their posts so that they won’t have a ton of outbound links, with the theory that sites that link out more than they are linked into get a lower PR.

    It upsets me to no end.

  13. 15
  14. 16

    IMO rel=”nofollow” is absolutely useless, it won’t stop comment spam because spammers use software. The best solution against comment spammers are plugins like Akismet, Bad Behaviour and captchas or human questions.

  15. 17
  16. 18

    Hello, I’ll like to ask if WordPress, Yahoo 360, Blogger, etc. use “nofollow” in blog posts. i.e. If I write a post in my blog and I put a link in it, does the link in my post change to rel=nofollow?

  17. 19

    Thank you very much for the excellent article about the no follow attribute. Because it’s installed as a default in WordPress, I suspect an awful lot of people don’t even know that it is there.

    I think a policy of either allowing or disallowing comments on an individual basis rather than just downgrading them all is a far better approach.

  18. 20

    Thanks for this post! I know I’m a little late in finding it, but I just started blogging and am trying to figure out why the heck wordpress is putting nofollow in my links. I’m going to put in dofollow thanks to finding your blog, maybe that will encourage more comments and interaction on my newby blog.

    • 21

      Hi DG,

      I’m not sure how much it actually assists directly with participation. I do think, however, that ‘birds of a feather fly together’ so you’re more apt to connect and participate with other blogs that don’t use nofollow. In the long run, I do think there’s benefit.

      I just like it because I believe that much of my success in blogging has been do to the participation of folks like you in the conversation. Why should I get all the benefit?!


  19. 22

    Thanks for this info Doug, I had been manually adding rel tags to my links but never even considered this approach for comments. It makes sense though, I’ll probably start doing this since I already moderate my comments to a great degree.

  20. 23

    Hi, I installed the DoFollow plugin a few days ago, and I received some thanks from some small blogs I linked to in my articles and comments.

    Great initiative too, but ONLY in combination with a strict comment/user management, otherwise blogs will become spam sources quicker than we think.

  21. 24

    doug, this nofollow thing has really been painful for both the blogger and legit commentator… i just wish someone could create a plugin that will enable/disable nofollow at the admin’s will. all nofollo plugins i’ve used rip off the nofollow tag on all comments and/or commentator. like u said, some people are picky in approving their users’ comments

  22. 26

    the funny thing doug is that majority of those who “advocate” nofollow have nofollow attribs in their sites/blogs…. isn’t it funny that people say something and do another? u got my admiration for having a dofollow here just like in my blog… i’m not just sure how this will affect my PR in google.

  23. 27

    Thank you for explaining this. I am just getting a website started, and am looking at all the blog options. Unfortunately the canned blog software that I could use with my site stinks on ice, and I have been thinking of using wordpress, so thanks for talking about the follow or no follow issue. I have 2 websites, one with no google back links, and the other day my second site showed up 10 google backlinks out of the blue, and I was really excited! I post on blogs all the time and didn’t even know you could get a link that way, (duh, newbie!) and all of a sudden I had 10 links from Dawud Miracle – who in the heck is he???? I followed the link back to his site and realized it was one of many many many blogs I had posted on, thanks Miracle, it WAS a miracle!!! Then I wondered how it had happened, and why it hadn’t happened before! So now I get it. When I get my blog software up I will definately have the follow, not the no- follow type. There’s enough success for all of us…..

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.