How to Correctly “nofollow” Affiliate Links with WordPress

by Jay Kang | Updated on November 29th, 2023

Affiliate marketing has become a prominent revenue stream for many website owners. However, ensuring that your affiliate links are correctly handled and attributed is crucial for maintaining good standing with search engines and affiliate programs.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the modern way of correctly “nofollowing” your affiliate links on your WordPress website. By following these best practices, you can avoid potential penalties and optimize your affiliate marketing efforts.

In the world of HTML, a nofollow link is a powerful tool to inform search engines that you do not endorse the linked website. By adding the rel="nofollow" attribute to a link, you effectively signal to search engines that the link should not pass on any ranking value or influence search results.

Typically, a nofollow link is represented as follows:

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

It’s important to note that a nofollow link can also include other rel attributes, such as noopener or noreferrer, which provide additional security features. These attributes can be combined as follows:

<a href="" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Example</a>

Why does “nofollow” even exist?

The introduction of the rel="nofollow" attribute in HTML was primarily aimed at addressing specific concerns in the world of search engine optimization (SEO) and link building. Search engines use external links as a ranking factor, and webmasters needed a way to indicate that certain links should not be considered endorsements or influence search rankings.

In addition to “nofollow,” other rel attributes were introduced to provide more granular information about the nature of a link:

  • rel="sponsored": This attribute is used to mark links as advertisements or paid placements. It provides a clearer indication of the commercial relationship between the website owner and the linked website.
  • rel="ugc": UGC stands for “user-generated content.” This attribute is helpful in distinguishing links added by users, such as those found in blog comments or forums, from editorially controlled links.

It’s important to note that as of March 2020, Google treats “nofollow” as a hint rather than a directive. This means that search engines may still consider other factors when determining the impact of nofollow links on rankings.

Affiliate links are considered “paid links” by search engines. When you include affiliate links on your website, it’s crucial to properly nofollow them to comply with search engine guidelines. Failure to do so can result in manual penalties that negatively impact your website’s rankings or even lead to the removal of your site from search engine results.

To avoid these penalties and maintain a healthy relationship with search engines, it is essential to consistently and correctly apply the nofollow attribute to your affiliate links.

While Google recommends using rel="sponsored" for affiliate links, it is not mandatory. If you choose to continue using nofollow for your affiliate links, you won’t face any penalties. However, keep in mind that using rel="sponsored" provides more explicit information to search engines about the nature of the link and its commercial intent.

Ultimately, the decision to switch from nofollow to sponsored depends on your preferences and the level of granular detail you want to provide to search engines.

If you’re using popular SEO plugins like Yoast SEO or Rank Math, or Linkilo you can take advantage of their built-in features for handling affiliate links. These plugins simplify the process of correctly “nofollowing” your links. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the link options in the WordPress editor.
  2. Ensure that the link opens in a new tab.
  3. Enable the sponsored, noopener, and nofollow options.
  4. Save your changes.

By following these steps, the plugin will generate the necessary code for your affiliate link, including the appropriate rel attributes.

If you prefer to work directly with the HTML code, you can manually add the nofollow attribute to your affiliate links. Here’s how:

  1. Locate the HTML code for your affiliate link.
  2. Ensure that the link opens in a new tab by adding target="_blank".
  3. Add rel="nofollow" to indicate that the link should not pass any ranking value.
  4. Optionally, include rel="sponsored" to provide additional information about the link’s commercial intent.

For example:

<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow sponsored">Example</a>

This code ensures that the link opens in a new tab and includes the necessary rel attributes to correctly “nofollow” and indicate sponsorship.

Use ProductReview.Tools to automatically take care of it for you

If you use our product boxes or tables, all of your affiliate links are nofollow, so there is nothing you need to do!

Why you should NOT leave the default WordPress “noreferrer” rel parameter

The default behavior of WordPress adds the noreferrer attribute to all links that open in a new tab. While this attribute enhances security by preventing the linked page from accessing the window.opener property, it can also have unintended consequences.

When a link has the noreferrer attribute, it removes the referrer information, making it difficult to track the source of traffic to your website accurately. This can be problematic for both analytics and compliance with affiliate program terms.

Many affiliate programs explicitly prohibit masking the origin of clicks, as they rely on this data to determine commissions. By leaving the noreferrer attribute, you risk violating these terms and missing out on valuable analytics insights.

To resolve this issue, it is advisable to remove the noreferrer parameter from your affiliate links. However, it can be challenging to do so manually, as WordPress automatically adds it back. Fortunately, there is a solution in the form of the “Remove Noreferrer” plugin, an open-source tool that effectively removes the noreferrer attribute from your links.

By utilizing the “Remove Noreferrer” plugin, you can ensure that your affiliate links remain compliant and transparent while preserving accurate analytics data.

How to remove the “noreferrer” parameter in WordPress

Removing the noreferrer parameter manually within your HTML code can be a frustrating and time-consuming task. To simplify the process, you can use the “Remove Noreferrer” plugin. This plugin efficiently eliminates the noreferrer attribute from your links, saving you the hassle of editing the code yourself.

Alternatively, our ProductReview.Tools does remove the noreferrer attribute from your links, so there is nothing you need to do on your end.

To further support the developer’s efforts in maintaining this useful tool, consider showing your appreciation by buying them a coffee or making a small donation.

Why is this so complicated?

Affiliate link attribution in WordPress can be a complex process due to several factors. Ensuring compliance with search engine guidelines, avoiding penalties, and optimizing link attribution require careful attention to detail.

While it may seem burdensome, understanding and implementing these best practices are essential for maintaining a trustworthy online presence, maximizing your affiliate revenue, and complying with the terms and conditions of affiliate programs.

WordPress could simplify the process by introducing a built-in option to toggle the noreferrer attribute for links that open in new tabs. However, until such an update is available, following the guidelines provided in this article will help you navigate the complexities of affiliate link attribution in WordPress.

In the world of affiliate marketing, correctly “nofollowing” your affiliate links is not only a matter of compliance but also an opportunity to maximize your revenue and maintain a strong online presence. By following the modern best practices outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can avoid penalties, enhance security, and provide transparent attribution for your affiliate links.

Remember, consistently applying the nofollow attribute, considering the use of sponsored as an alternative, and removing the noreferrer parameter are key steps towards optimizing your affiliate link attribution in WordPress. By implementing these strategies, you can confidently grow your affiliate revenue and establish a trustworthy relationship with search engines and affiliate programs.

Jay Kang

Jay Kang, entrepreneur and SEO expert, is the driving force behind innovative platforms like and His latest creation, ProductReview.Tools, provides affiliate marketers with a powerful WordPress plugin for crafting high-converting reviews. Committed to empowering marketers, Jay continues to make a positive impact in the digital marketing space.