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How to Add Nofollow Links in WordPress Navigation Menus

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Do you want to add nofollow links in your WordPress navigation menus?

Many website owners prefer to add a nofollow tag to external links, but beginners may find this tricky when adding a custom link to a menu.

In this article, we will show you how to easily add nofollow links in WordPress navigation menus, step by step.

How to Add Nofollow Links in WordPress Navigation Menus

Why Add Nofollow Links in WordPress Navigation Menus?

If you are running a WordPress website, then you may want to add a nofollow tag when creating external links. This lets search engines know not to pass any link juice from your page to the other website that you are linking to.

When you link to an external website, search engines consider that as a ranking signal, and they will pass a small portion of your authority to the other website. As a general SEO best practice, you should add nofollow to all external websites that you don’t trust.

You do that by adding the rel="nofollow" attribute to the link like this:

<a href="https://example.com" rel="nofollow">Example</a>

To learn more, you can see our beginner’s guide on how to add nofollow links in WordPress.

However, adding nofollow links to navigation menu items is a little different and can be confusing for beginners.

In this article, we will show you how to add nofollow links in WordPress navigation menus without using any plugins.

We will cover two methods. The second method is for people using WordPress 5.9 or higher and a theme that’s compatible with the theme editor:

This method is for you if you are using an older WordPress theme that comes with a theme customizer and has a separate tab for menus.

To get started, simply visit the Appearance » Menus page in your WordPress admin sidebar.

First, you need to add the external link to your WordPress navigation menu just like you would add any custom link.

To do that, click on the ‘Custom Links’ tab so you can see the URL and Link Text options. Here, simply enter the URL and link text of the website you are linking to.

Enter the URL and Link Text and Click on 'Add to Menu' Button

After that, click the ‘Add to Menu’ button to add the external link to the ‘Menu structure’ column.

Now, to add the nofollow attribute to the link, you need to click the downward arrow on the right of the menu entry, as pictured in the screenshot above.

Here, you will see the details of the external link you just added, including the URL and navigation label.

Click on Screen Options at the Top of the Screen

If you don’t see the Link Target and Link Relationship options, then you will have to add them.

To show those options, click the ‘Screen Options’ button at the top right corner of the screen.

After that, check the boxes next to the Link Target and Link Relationship (XFN) options.

Check Link Relationships and Link Target in Screen Options

Now, you can scroll back down to your expanded menu item, where you will notice two new options.

Next, simply type nofollow in the link relationship field.

We recommend that you also click the ‘Open link in a new tab’ checkbox when adding an external link. This is a great way to improve engagement and keep your visitors from leaving your WordPress site.

Type nofollow in Link Relationship

Lastly, click the ‘Save Menu’ button to store your changes.

You can now preview your site to see the new nofollow menu entry.

Preview of Nofollow Link in Navigation Menu

Let’s make sure that a nofollow attribute has been added to the link.

Simply right-click the new link and select ‘Inspect’. Your browser window will split into two windows.

In the bottom window, you will be able to see the HTML source for your link, which will display the nofollow attribute with your link.

This method is for those who are using WordPress 5.9 or later and have a block theme that supports the WordPress full site editor.

In that case, the Appearance » Menus page will not be available to you.

Instead, you should navigate to the Appearance » Editor page in your WordPress dashboard.

This will open the WordPress full site theme editor on your screen.

WordPress Theme Editor

Adding a New Link to the Navigation Menu

If you need to add a new menu item, then you’ll have to click the ‘Add Block’ (+) button in the top left corner of the screen.

This will open the block menu, where you will have to scroll down until you locate the Custom Link block and then drag it onto your navigation menu.

Drag a Custom Link Block Onto the Navigation Menu

You can now type or paste the URL. If you want, you can also toggle the ‘Open in new tab’ option to open the link in a new window. After that, make sure you click the ‘Submit’ icon at the top right of the popup so that the menu item’s settings are stored.

The link URL will now be added to the menu, but you’ll normally want something more descriptive, such as the name of the website. Simply start typing to rename the menu item.

Adding the Nofollow Attribute to a Link

Now, to add the nofollow attribute to a menu item, simply click it, and a toolbar will appear.

Next, you need to click the link icon on that toolbar. In the settings pane on the right, you need to enter the nofollow attribute in the link relationship (‘Link rel’) field.

Type nofollow in the Link Rel Field

If you like, you can also add a description and title for the link and reorder the menu items using the arrow icons on the toolbar.

When you’ve finished, click the ‘Save’ button at the top of the screen. The new custom link will be added, and you can visit your website to see how your navigation menu looks now.

Preview of Nofollow Link in Navigation Menu

We hope this tutorial helped you learn how to add nofollow links in WordPress navigation menus. You may also want to learn how to create automated workflows in WordPress with Uncanny Automator, or check out our list of tips to speed up WordPress performance.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

10 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Tony says

    Hi

    What about on the home page, the menu item is not ‘nofollow’ but on all inner pages it is nofollow. Is this possible?

  3. James says

    I’ve applied this successfully, but can’t see the rel=”nofollow” attribute in the source. Any idea why that would be?

    Thanks,
    James

  4. Vignesh Chandrasekaran says

    Thanks for the article. I was looking at various no follow plugins to see which can cater to this problem.
    I actually have done this of unhiding from screen options long back but had totally forgotten.

    Thanks once again.

  5. Barış Ünver says

    You can also do this automatically with a filter, if you want to apply rel=”nofollow” attributes to all menu items at once:

    <?php
    function menu_rel_nofollow( $atts, $item, $args ) {
    $atts[ 'rel' ] = 'nofollow';
    return $atts;
    }
    add_filter( 'nav_menu_link_attributes', 'menu_rel_nofollow', 10, 3 );
    ?>

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