Is rel = “noopener noreferrer” the same as “nofollow”?

Since HTML offers multiple options to search engines for better understanding the data on your website, which further implies better ranking positions on search engines, using the benefits of HTML as an SEO tool is a wise decision that will positively affect your SEO strategy. Some of the elements our SEO agency in Chicago will discuss in the following article are often used inside HTML and can affect your SEO results. Those three elements added to outgoing links are defined as link attributes, “noopener,” “noreferrer,” and “nofollow.” More precisely, HTML recognizes those elements as values that belong to the rel attribute of the anchor tag. Understanding the interaction between HTML and SEO is the very first step. In the following article, you will find the meanings of those relations, why they are so important, and how they impact SEO results.

What are rel attributes in HTML?

Rel attributes (rel – coming from RELationship) signify the relationship between the current website and linked website. Rel attributes are used inside HTML in the form of links or tags, and we could describe them as a type of instruction.

What is rel=”noreferrer”?

The rel=”noreferrer” tag is an HTML attribute that is usually added to link tag <a> to prevent the transition of the referrer information and the targeted website by removing the referral info. This implies that Google Analytics, for example, will recognize this traffic as direct instead of referral.

Let’s see an example that will describe how rel=”noreferrer” functions.

Imagine that you are establishing the link from website A to website B, not using the rel “noreferrer.” When checking out the Google Analytics Acquisition Report, the website’s B owner will see that traffic is coming to its website as referral traffic.

On the other hand, if the owner of website A uses the rel “noreferrer,” the owner of website B will have an opportunity to see this traffic categorized as direct in Google Analytics Report, which means that there will be no provided the exact address from which the traffic is derived from.

Hence, whenever you don’t want to provide the piece of information to the website you are linking to, whenever you don’t want them to see where the traffic is coming from, you will use the rel “noreferrer. The situation when you should avoid using the rel “noreferrer” is connected to internal linking because you don’t want that mess in the Googles report.

How the rel=”noreferrer” impact your SEO results?

Although adding the “noreferrer” tag to your links does not directly impact your SEO results, it affects it indirectly in terms of link building and paid ads. As stated by Google, showing the source of the data you are using on your website can be very useful because it can inspire the quoted website owner to return you the favor and give your website the backlink, which will positively influence your SEO results. Still, if you are using the “noreferrer” tag, this information will not be visible, and thus the possibility of backlinking to your website will be significantly reduced.

The rel “noreferrer” has no impact on Affiliate links either because those reward programs are mainly based on the affiliate ID that is already included in the link.

Is there a difference between rel=”nofollow” and rel=”noreferrer”?

Adding a rel “nofollow” to the hyperlink means instructing search engines not to pass any page rank from one to another website. More precisely, you are giving them instructions to neglect that link for SEO purposes. Google introduced this option in 2005 when it noticed that there are many so-called comment spams used by people who had an idea to raise their website in search engines in this way. Hence, Google decided to block those spam by enabling an option “nofollow,” which stops those links from getting any credit in ranking on the search results.

So, the answer to our primer question is yes. There is a difference between rel “nofollow” and “noreferrer.” While “no follow” provides the referral information to the browser without an option to follow the link, the rel “noreferrer” provides information to the search engines, and the link is followed.

Since those two rel are so different, the best option to use rel “nofollow” on the external links is when you don’t trust those links while using rel=”noreferrer” is a good option for bypassing the other site to know that you have linked to them.

How the rel=”nofollow” impact your SEO results?

Not transferring the page rank over another website means no passing the link weight from one to another site, which impacts the SEO in the mean of ranking position. The more quality links you have, the higher your website will be in the SERP. Still, numerous rel “nofollow” attributes do not mean that it negatively affects the SEO results; it just means that search engines do not consider the “nofollow” attribute when following a link on your website.

However, in 2019, Google has changed some rules regarding the “nofollow” attribute, stating that the “nofollow” tag is not recognized as a strict directive, but as a hint, which gives Google not to follow this directive. All this means that the users still can mark the “nofollow” attribute option, but Google has not the obligation to follow this directive.

Furthermore, Google has introduced two new options that could be connected to the “nofollow” attribute. Since it has recognized that there is a specific need for paid quality links, Google has presented rel=”sponsored” that can go on “nofollow” tag, and which shows that a specific link is a sponsored content or a promoted post. The second newish option is rel=”UGC”, which stands for User Generated Content, is recommended for links within user-generated content, such as comments and forum posts.

So, from March 1, 2020, the “nofollow” attribute has become only a hint for crawling and indexing purposes, but it positively can affect your ranking positions on Google.

What is rel= “noopener”?

The rel “noopener” is another HTML attribute that is used for external links, intending to prevent that the opening page obtains any access to the originated page. This rel is applicable when the link is selected to open in a new tab.

The rel “noopener” is more related to the website’s security, for example, the rel “no opener” will be very useful in preventing your website from being hijacked when you are linking to a website that might be malicious.

How the rel =”noopener” impact your SEO results?

The rel “noopener” has no impact on your SEO results, but it is recommended to use it because of the protection. In many cases, this rel is automatically set in order to provide enhanced security to your website.

Final Thoughts

Let’s summarize the impact of those different relations and how we use them here at digital marketing agency Chicago:

  • rel=”noreferrer” is the only rel that can influence your SEO results in terms of link building.
  • rel= “nofollow” instructs search engines not to pass the page rank or anchor text across them. Although those links are generally not crawled, from March 1, 2020, Google considers it only as a hint. Anyway, rel=”nofollow” certainly affects SEO results by not transferring link juice to a specific page.
  • rel=”noopener is recommended to use on all links opening in new tabs because when allowing your links to be opened in new tabs, it means an open possibility to a malicious attacker to change the content and location of the originating page.
Brian Djordjevic
About The Author

Brian Dordevic

Brian is Marketing Strategic Planner with a passion for all things digital. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or schedule a consultation call with him.

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