How to Add NoFollow Links to your WordPress Menu

Usually I don’t recommend adding external links to your WordPress navigation menu, footer, or sidebar because if you don’t know what you are doing it can be disastrous. WordPress is setup in such a way that when you add external links in your footer or navigation menu it creates a backlink to that external site. But the part that is dangerous is that the backlink will register on each page of your site since it is loaded on each page.

[alert-note]The results are that the external site now has a backlink from every single page of your site![/alert-note]

That is not a good thing. Say your site has 1,000 pages/posts and you link to your friend’s company website. Now their website’s backlink profile will have your dofollow backlink 1,000 times! If you aren’t careful this could be accidentaly mistaken by Google as trying to game the system. Google’s algorithm isn’t stupid and you will probably be OK as they will see it coming from the same IP, but that could also be a bad thing. Why take the risk? If anything it just creates a nightmare of backlink profile when trying to clean up.

You can see that I link to things in my footer, but they are linked a certain way so this won’t happen.

Add NoFollow Links to your WordPress Menu

Step 1

Click into Appearance and then “Menus.”

wordpress menus

Step 2

Click to expand the “Screen Options” at the right and select the box next to “Link Relationship (XFN).”

wordpress screen options

Step 3

Expand “Links” on the left hand side and input the domain your wanting to link to. Then click “Add to Menu.”

external link wordpress menu

Step 4

Now in your menu item, expand it, and you will see the “Link Relationship (XFN)” box. In there type nofollow and then save your menu. By adding the nofollow tag it will let Google know not to pass any link juice through it. In other words, it tells Google to ignore this link so it won’t affect ranking.

wordpress menu nofollow

You can see on my personal site an example of this. I am using the NoDoFollow Firefox plugin to highlight my links to double check that the nofollow attribute is being applied. You can see below that my external link to OKay Marketing is highlighted in pink, meaning it is nofollow. You can always check the source code as well. See instructions below on what to look for.

nofollow tag attribute

Add NoFollow Links to your WordPress Footer

Step 1

First click into Appearance and then “Widgets.” (the following instructions apply anywhere on your site, for example maybe you want to add a nofollow link in your copyright area)

Step 2

In your footer widget we are going to add a hyperlink and add the nofollow tag to it. This way Google will ignore this link. The press “Save.”

<a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

nofollow link

You have now learned how to properly add external links to your WordPress menu and footer by adding the nofollow tag attribute.

Note: whenever you add a nofollow link like this it will still show up in the backlink profile for every single page/post it is on because that is how WordPress works with the menu navigation, footer, and sidebar. But at least with it marked as nofollow you can safely ignore it and also in your backlink tool you should be able to filter it out easily.

As always feel free to comment below!

author bio
Brian Jackson

I craft actionable content and develop performance-driven WordPress plugins. Connect on X, subscribe to my newsletter (once a month), or buy me coffee.

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