The terms rel=” noopener noreferrer” and rel=” nofollow” might sound familiar if you are a web developer or an SEO specialist. When used correctly, these attributes can confirm if your website and code are secure and SEO-friendly. This article intends to detail the differences between rel=” noopener”, rel=” noreferrer”, and rel=” nofollow”, as well as provide tips for implementing them into your code to improve your website’s usability. The article also analyzes these attributes and how they relate to SEO and lets you pick one that best fits your requirements.
A synopsis of “target=” _blank”
Table of Contents
If you use an anchor <a> tag for a link, the target attribute determines the link’s behavior when clicked by the users. The question here is why the target attribute is needed and its purpose.
The options for target attribute, as given by w3schools, include:
- _blank: opens the linked document in a new tab
- _parent: opens linked document in the parent frame
- _top: opens linked document in the full window
- _self: opens linked document in the same frame
A brief note on rel=” noopener noreferrer” & rel=” nofollow”
Though digital marketing is an effective tool for the growth of your business, there is no point if users are worried about the safety of your website. Therefore, any website or company’s success is closely linked to digital marketing and online security. The website’s code and backlink strategy significantly improve its SEO and authority and assure users that the website is secure.
The values of rel=” noopener noreferrer” and rel=” nofollow” exemplify how to guarantee the security of your links and backlinks and enhance your website’s ranking. It is important to note that “noopener noreferrer” and “nofollow” are values of the “rel” attribute and not just attributes. “rel” implies “relationship” and is an attribute of the anchor text. These values are necessary when using the “target=_blank” attribute, which opens links in a new window. It can cause security issues because you deliberately alter a link’s default behavior by doing this.
If you utilize the “target=_blank” attribute instead of “target: _self”, you compel the link to open in a separate tab or window.
Although this decision has some technical justifications, it is important to assess if its advantages outweigh the hazards. Clicking on a link that leads to a malicious website can move tabs and pages and launch phishing assaults. Therefore, it is advised to leave the link’s default behavior alone and enable it to open in the same tab.
It is recommended not to modify the natural behavior of a link and allow it to open on the same tab. Still, if necessary, the “rel” attribute’s values: “noopener,” “noreferrer,” and “nofollow” can be used to ensure the safe opening of links in a new tab or window.
To begin with, let us understand why we need this attribute and the issues it resolves.
The link tag has included the HTML attributes rel= “noopener” and rel= “noreferrer” to combat this problem. These attributes address the vulnerability mentioned above and aid in mitigating its impact.
Working of rel=” noopener”
The rel=” noopener” attribute opens the link in a new tab by default while retaining the referrer details. However, it prevents the window.opener property from executing any malicious code from the infected site in the new tab. Instead, it confines the content from the external site within the tab, limiting any impact on the referring site and safeguarding it. It nullifies the value of the window.opener property, which malicious sites exploit for phishing attacks.
rel= “noopener” can also block tabnabbing, a deceptive approach where a user on clicking an external link while the other tab is inactive, and a fake website opens, impersonating the original link site. Hence, it is advisable to use this attribute only when required and in conjunction with external links; otherwise, the links are vulnerable to hacking.
rel= “noopener” is an HTML attribute that shields the opening page from accessing the page of origin. It is a valuable website security tool and particularly useful when links are to be opened in new tabs.
A referrer is a header attribute the source website passes on to the target website. If your website has a link to an external website, the header request sent to the external site will include the referrer attribute with your website URL as a value. Thus, the target website can determine the traffic from your website.
To prevent the header from transferring this referrer information from one website to another, we use the “noreferrer” tag on a link. This tag instructs the browser to eliminate the referrer information from the HTTP header.
Working of rel= “noreferrer”
The “noreferrer” value, like the “noopener”, ensures that the newly opened website cannot access the window.opener object, thus preventing any manipulation. Besides, “noreferrer” instructs the browser not to send the address of referring web page when navigating to a different page, thereby hiding the referrer information the moment the user clicks the link.
Consistent use of both “noreferrer” and “noopener” is recommended when integrating the “target=_blank” attribute and value in your code. It ensures that the browser supports at least one of these values. It prevents the newly opened page from controlling traffic, protecting against security threats, and improving SEO rankings.
Using nofollow and noreferrer links are recommended if you don’t trust a site’s content, as it stops the new page from accessing the actual page.
The rel=nofollow indicates that a hyperlink is unimportant and will not pass on link juice to the referring page. It is advantageous for SEO, as it prevents links from high-ranking pages to less-important pages. There are several ways to use this attribute to enhance your website’s SEO and page rank. Let’s explore three common applications of the nofollow tag.
- The rel=nofollow attribute is a microformat element instructing Google not to give the destination link extra weight or ranking.
- It can enhance the quality of your content by reducing the number of outbound links.
- It can help you mask phony news sites on high-ranking domains. As a result, Google recently classified rel=nofollow as “strong hints.”
The values you should use
It is recommended to use both “noopener” and “noreferrer” whenever using the “target=_blank” attribute and value. However, it is even better to avoid using “target=_blank” altogether if possible.
Using “nofollow” can help balance your website’s link juice and improve its SEO, especially when linking internally to less important pages.
Using “noopener” or “noreferrer” can improve website security by preventing unauthorized third-party websites from accessing your content and protecting audience confidentiality.
Impact of these values on SEO
As previously discussed, it is crucial to understand the different functions of each “rel” value when coding, as they can also have a significant impact on your SEO. Here’s some more information about how they can affect your search engine optimization strategy:
- Although “noopener” is not an SEO-specific attribute, it can enhance your website’s security.
- While “noreferrer” doesn’t directly affect your SEO, it can affect the traffic numbers you see in your analytics reports since you won’t know the source of your website traffic.
- Using “nofollow” can improve your SEO by helping you correctly transfer and balance the link juice of your backlinks, ensuring you don’t waste it on low-authority pages or websites.
In a nutshell, rel values are crucial for maintaining website security and improving SEO. Each value has different functions and should be used in the appropriate context. Nofollow can improve your backlink strategy, while noreferrer is useful for affiliate marketing programs. Understanding how these values impact your website’s SEO is essential to use them effectively.