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Specification 2005-01-10




This specification is (C) 2005-2023 by the authors. However, the authors intend to submit (or already have submitted, see details in the spec) this specification to a standards body with a liberal copyright/licensing policy such as the GMPG, IETF, and/or W3C. Anyone wishing to contribute should read their copyright principles, policies and licenses (e.g. the GMPG Principles) and agree to them, including licensing of all contributions under all required licenses (e.g. CC-by 1.0 and later), before contributing.


This specification is subject to a royalty free patent policy, e.g. per the W3C Patent Policy, and IETF RFC3667 & RFC3668.


RelNoFollow is an elemental microformat, one of several microformat open standards. By adding rel="nofollow" to a hyperlink, a page indicates that the destination of that hyperlink SHOULD NOT be afforded any additional weight or ranking by user agents which perform link analysis upon web pages (e.g. search engines). Typical use cases include links created by 3rd party commenters on blogs, or links the author wishes to point to, but avoid endorsing. For more specific endorsement (or lack thereof) semantics, see VoteLinks.

XMDP profile

The following is an XMDP profile for the rel-nofollow specification.


This profile is hosted as a separate XMDP file on


Profiles are referenced in (X)HTML files in the <HEAD> tag, e.g.:

<head profile=''>


<dl class="profile">
 <dt id="rel">rel</dt>
   <a rel="help" href="">
     HTML4 definition of the 'rel' attribute.</a>  
   Here is an additional value as defined in the
   <a rel="help start" href="">
   rel-nofollow specification</a> 
   <dt id="nofollow">nofollow</dt>
   <dd>Indicates that the referred resource was not necessarily linked to 
       by the author of the page, and thus said reference should not afford 
       the referred resource any additional weight or ranking by user agents.

examples in the wild

This section is informative. Note: There are numerous uses of rel-nofollow in the wild, this is very much an incomplete list. If your site marked up with rel-nofollow, feel free to add it to the top of this list. Once the list grows too big, we'll make a separate wiki page (rel-nofollow-examples-in-wild).

bad examples in the wild

This section is informative. There are now numerous abuses of rel-nofollow, in particular, where it is used on *2nd party* links, rather than the original intention of *3rd party* links such as in blog comments. The primary abusers of rel-nofollow are content hosting / social network sites.


It may seem odd to explicitly list *non* examples in an examples in the wild section, but such non-examples may be useful to help convince the bad examples in the wild to change their behavior:

normative references

informative references

open issues

These are open issues that have been raised about rel="nofollow" that have been raised in various forums, in particular, on the public W3C www-html mailing list. Once the list grows too big, we'll make a separate wiki page (rel-nofollow-issues). The issues have been grouped into four areas.

additional lists of issues

Additional lists of issues raised against rel="nofollow" can be found at the following site(s):

Matt Cutts Says No to Nofollow On Internal Links:


When this section gets too big, we can move it to rel-nofollow-articles.


rel="nofollow" was last modified: Monday, February 26th, 2018