If you use outbound links on your site with the nofollow attribute do you still loose link juice?

You don't really "lose" link juice from having outbound links -- it is more a matter of how the link juice of your web page is applied to the various pages it is linking to. Using nofollow on some links will help focus the "link juice" of the current page to other links on that page, causing the search engines to give a little more benefit to those pages (whether on your site or others).

Using nofollow on links on a page will not in any way change the link popularity (link juice) of the page itself -- whatever link popularity it has is due to other links that point to it. Nofollow only affects how that linking popularity is applied to the other pages it links to.

I think it is an open (and interesting) question how "link juice" is applied to external links (to pages outside your site) vs internal links (to pages within your site). In experiments I've done, adding outbound links to a page actually increased rankings (probably due to algorithmic factors that favor involvement in the Internet community), leading me to believe that you do not "leak" link juice from your own internal links if you have outbound links. However, I really don't know -- just based on observations.

The bottom line here, and the best way to decide whether to use nofollow on a link is this:
1) For external sites, if it is a site you believe in and want to promote, don't use nofollow. If it is a site you have doubts about, use follow. Other than that, don't stress about it.
2) For internal links, use nofollow on links to pages in your site that are not important for SEO, focusing more of your "internal link juice" to pages that are important.

I have seen similar trends ... page rankings increased when I had outgoing links that weren't nofollowed. (Of course, this doesn't apply to paid text ads or anything black hat.)

I just want to comment on two things that jreseo said:

> If it is a site you have doubts about, use follow
I think he meant to say that if you have doubts about a site, use nofollow :)

Also, I disagree with his statement that for internal links you should use nofollow on links to pages that aren't important for SEO. The official definition, as defined by Google, for nofollow are links that you don't vouch for. Using nofollow for internal links would be sending Google the message that you don't vouch for pages on your own domain, which could lead to a problem if a future search algorithmic change took that into consideration. Instead, what I do is use a robots.txt file to disallow googlebot from crawling pages that are behind a login or would otherwise just throw back a generic error to a spider crawling them (i.e. no real content).

Even though I'm sure it does no harm right now to use nofollow on internal links, I prefer to stick to using them only for what they were specifically designed for. This way I won't run into any problems in the future.

Thanks for your input. I have also heard that valuable external links can help a sites rank. I am still up in the air about nofollow.

So you are saying that the ranking is only increased with follow links?


I don't really know the true answer, sorry.


Regarding use of NOFOLLOW on internal links, it is a technique that is "blessed" by Google for focusing page rank. See the interview with Matt Cutts at http://www.stonetemple.com/articles/interview-matt-cutts.shtml

Here's a clip from that:
Eric Enge: What we've been doing is working with clients and telling them to take pages like their about us page, and their contact us page, and link to them from the home page normally, without a NoFollow attribute, and then link to them using NoFollow from every other page. It's just a way of lowering the amount of link juice they get. These types of pages are usually the highest PageRank pages on the site, and they are not doing anything for you in terms of search traffic.

Matt Cutts: Absolutely. So, we really conceive of NoFollow as a pretty general mechanism. The name, NoFollow, is meant to mirror the fact that it's also a metatag. As a metatag NoFollow means don't crawl any links from this entire page.

NoFollow as an individual link attribute means don't follow this particular link, and so it really just extends that granularity down to the link level.

On the question above on whether using or not using NOFOLLOW on outbound links impacts how Google ranks the page it is on, I really don't know either. I would guess that they would give higher weight to links that are followed (i.e., don't have a NOFOLLOW tag), but I have not tested this.

Thanks for your answer. I will keep researching and then share my findings here.