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Is nofollow better than noopener, noreferrer?

Question asked by Steve McLaren in #SEO on Dec 10, 2019
Steve McLaren
Steve McLaren · Dec 10, 2019

I'm working for a client who insists on adding rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener" tags to links on all pages. I am not well versed with SEO techniques. Let me know your thoughts. Peace.

Posted in: #SEO
Rashmi Gandhi
Rashmi Gandhi · Dec 10, 2019
Rank C3 - EXPERT

Steve it would be unfair to compare the attributes noopner, noreferrer and nofollow. Each of these attributes perform a separate function. Let me offer a brief overview of these attributes.


The noopener is a recommended substitute for target="_blank". noopener is more secure over the target blank option because it prevents a hacker from using window.opener javascript object to maliciously modify the content and the location of the origin. 

Hackers use phishing attack to open their content in user's browser. This can be prevented by using the newly recommended noopener tag.


The noreferrer attribute is for the older browser and serves similar purpose as that of rel="noopener". In general, noopener will be accompanied with noreferrer attribute. The only downside of using this attribute is that Google analytics will report the originating traffic as direct instead of referral. If this matters to you, you may avoid noreferrer. 


Please be extremely careful while using this attribute. It can have serious repercussions on your site's SEO. nofollow directs web crawlers to not follow the link. If you are linking to important pages on your client's website then those pages may get ignored by search engine. Generally advertisement links should be nofollow. 

The summary of above is that you may use noopener and noreferrer without issues; but not nofollow. Inform your client about effects of these attributes on SEO.  

Amol Jain
Amol Jain · Dec 16, 2019

Rashmi has written a good answer. I've nothing much to add except for my own personal experience with it. noopener and noreferrer will not open the links in new tab for you; but you should add them anyway for the sake of security. 

Be very careful with the nofollow. I had added a nofollow link to my main page, and it caused my site's ranking to go down in about 4 weeks. I realized it and fixed the issue. It took me good three months to recover from the traffic drop. 

Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare · Dec 17, 2019
Rank A1 - PRO

Very good responses here. Our experience with CrazyEngineers is similar to what Amol shared. nofollow and noreferrer will typically go together. nofollow should strictly be added to the links that we do not want Google to follow. 

Google has said that even if the URL has 'nofollow', they'll still crawl it. Because Google bots will now consider 'nofollow' as a hint not a hard instruction. In addition, they'll also recognize two new rel attributes: 

rel="sponsored" : This would be the link that refers to advertising link or link added as a part of sponsorship agreement.

rel="ugc": UGC stands for User Generated Content. These attributes would get added to the links within user generated content like posts or comments on blog.

Until March 2020, the nofollow links will be treated exactly the same way they are treated now. After the deadline, nofollow links are most likely to be crawled but Google will determine whether to index it or pass the page rank. I hope this is helpful.

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