Google’s Matt Cutts: Nofollow Links Won’t Hurt You Unless You Are Spamming At A Huge Scale

google-links-featuredIn a video released today on the Google Webmaster Help YouTube channel, Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts said: typically, links that are nofollowed can’t hurt your rankings in Google.

That being said, while most cases are that links that have the nofollow attribute on them will not negatively impact your rankings in Google. Google did add that if you are mass spamming at a huge scale, Google may take manual action on your links to discourage your spamming, despite the links being nofollowed.

Why would Google take action on links that already are not trust by Google? It appears that some spammers don’t care and they need more of a knock to encourage them to stop link spamming.

Here is the video from Matt Cutts:

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Morgan Akchehirlian

    Good man.I am watching this shift in No follow links pattern in link profile.People are concentrating on maintaining a balance.This video is some what more encouragnig for people who are trying their best to make their link profile looks natural.some proportion of dofollow links and some nofollow.

  • http://www.adamdince.com/ Adam Dince

    Maybe because NoFollow links still provide some power to rankings. Just saying.

  • http://www.adamdince.com/ Adam Dince

    Maybe because NoFollow links still provide some power to rankings. Just saying.

  • Jan Dunlop

    Oh great, this should make negative SEO much easier – a few million xrumer links should do the trick right?

  • Durant Imboden

    Probably not, unless the targeted site has something to be ashamed of (in which case those few million xrumer links will simply draw attention to what Google might have caught–or should have caught–by other means).

  • http://www.nathanielbailey.co.uk/ Nathaniel Bailey

    Google can spot negative SEO, and if you keep an eye on your link profile for such things you should notice and inform google so they can disregard the links.

  • http://www.marketingmarty.co.uk/ Marty Rogers

    The only reason they would do this is, as Adam stated, because they do actually take some nofollow links into consideration when deciding where and how to rank a website in their search engine. I have always been convinced of this.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    I used to think that negative SEO couldn’t hurt a solidly white hat website but I’ve seen a few clients be the victims of link spam and it has brought a partial manual action down on them. I would hope that nofollow links don’t carry so much weight that they could ultimately hurt an otherwise clean website. You’d think a thousand nofollow links from a spam domain would look unusual in a solidly white hat link profile and that Google would look at your history and realize those probably weren’t created because of your actions.

  • aline

    what would be huge scale?? It doenst make an sense…if it doenst pass juice??
    So if I dont have money to do marketing but I want to write in some places to be known..even if I use nofollow I will be punished?? And if I do lots of adwords, i would be punished??

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    I can criticize Google along with everyone else, but how on Earth is anyone supposed to see a sudden spike in link activity and read minds about who the evil villains are in a scheme to bring down innocent Websites? These complaints about Google and negative SEO are unrealistic. I have investigated both legitimate and not-so-legitimate negative SEO campaigns through the years. It’s not easy to infer intentions behind links — that’s why they really are NOT endorsements.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Marty, the video explicitly states they DO NOT USE NOFOLLOW LINKS in determining rankings. The fallout from a massive spam campaign using NoFollow links is that you risk being scrutinized for a manual spam penalty.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Negative SEO will probably never go away, but if you see it happening and report it to Google, your chances of surviving are better than waiting around to see if anything bad happens. You don’t owe anyone doing negative SEO against you (or your cilents) any favors, so report the links.

  • http://www.govsource.com.au/ GovSource

    Spamming!!

  • http://www.skiusainc.com/ SKI USA

    So does this mean that if they won’t harm, they won’t benefit also? I think Google has pretty much stated so with this kind of action.

    Which means the emphasis is now on creating do follow links, which again means building content because that is the resource of links. And still search results seem worse than they were about 2 years ago. All kinds of crappy sites ranking, this Penguin update was the greatest disaster (when it was touted to be one of the best updates :))

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/clipping-path-service.html Bijutoha

    Manual Action ! may I gain any information on them ?

  • seoservices4smallbusiness

    Negative seo is spamming !! It may fetch instant results but later gets penalized by Google.

  • Durant Imboden

    It makes plenty of sense. Why wouldn’t Google want to discourage comment spam, even if it doesn’t pass PageRank? Google’s success depends on a healthy Web and satisfied searchers. Sending searchers to blogs, forums, etc. that are littered with junk posts annoys users and makes Google look bad.

  • aline

    the idea is not to have junk comments ..but appropriate and useful information..as a client of mine did….people even selected the comments as the best answer…

    “free marketing”, “relevant subject and content”…

  • http://phillipmoorman.com/ Phillip Moorman

    I agree with this move. Searching for real information only to find spam filled blogs is frustrating. If you want to make money online then you should be taking the time to build real content not spamming for a quick buck. Think of it as an investment – real content will produce more returns over a longer time period than any spam tactic.

  • Vero Tabares

    Maybe they don’t use NoFollow links as a direct ranking factor, but I’m certain that NoFollow links send signals depending on the context of the content on the linking page. This is, of course, speculative, but since marketers are using NoFollow links more and more, Google will eventually have to determine the “weight” of those NoFollow links (whether positive or negative) relative to the linked source. If the entire web implemented NoFollow links, how would Google use these links to help determine legitimate rankings?

  • Vero Tabares

    Maybe they don’t use NoFollow links as a direct ranking factor, but I’m certain that NoFollow links send signals depending on the context of the content on the linking page. This is, of course, speculative, but since marketers are using NoFollow links more and more, Google will eventually have to determine the “weight” of those NoFollow links (whether positive or negative) relative to the linked source. If the entire web implemented NoFollow links, how would Google use these links to help determine legitimate rankings?

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Google wants marketers to use NoFollow so that it can ignore those links that are not “editorially bestowed”.

    Links don’t have much impact on “rankings” for most of the Web anyway.

  • Vero Tabares

    Very true, but that scenario is borderline idealistic rather than realistic (Google’s directive). I can imagine amateur SEO/web marketers telling their web dev team to implement NoFollow attribute on all outbound links and because of this, the usefulness of NoFollow links begins to break down. Now multiply that by a thousand.

  • http://www.cebuimage.com/ mmayer

    If it is nofollow it should mean no link juices. If i like some blogs and placed its links (with no follow tag) in my sidebar so i got an easy click and visit action, will my favorite blogs get hurt? Will my blog get hurt for selling? It seems the system is becoming illogical.

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