Saying ‘Heck No’ To NoFollow

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Loren Baker is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any longer. He’s nailed his 13 reasons why the NoFollow attribute sucks to the blogosphere wall and banned them from Search Engine Journal.

Saying "Heck No" To NoFollow
Saying "Heck No" To NoFollow

From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel=”nofollow”) on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn’t a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it’s just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists. — from the Official Google blog, January 2005.

As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. NoFollow has to be called a good intention based on its genesis. Depriving spammers of the benefit of link love

Saying ‘Heck No’ To NoFollow
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  • Mike McDonald

    A plugin like Andy describes seems like the ideal solution doesn’t it?  Once a commenter achieves ‘trusted status’ by making a sufficient number of good comments, why not let their links be followed?

    It’s not unlike the plugin we see for comment moderation used by lots of bloggers, like Matt Cutts.  Once you’ve had a comment approved, you no longer have to wait for your comment to be moderated before it posts. 

    Seems like the same line of reasoning could and should extend to your links.  All ‘nofollow’ all the time seems a bit draconian.

    "Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes."
    -Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Michael McDonald Managing Editor iEntry, Inc.

    • freelancemom

      I second Michael. I’d love to see that developed.

      Frankly, I don’t think spammers even know about the ‘nofollow’.

      Blogs would be much more active with legitimate and useful comments if we could reward eachother with a worthwhile link back.

      Isn’t there a way to turn off the default nofollow setting on wordpress?

  • Peter_IMC

    The nofollow atribute has been a flawed idea from the beginning. Google and the others just set this up because they

    • David A. Utter

      I think it’s Diet Sprite that he prefers, but he is a Kentucky guy so he probably harbors a secret longing for Ale-8-One. I wonder if they stock that in the Googleplex cafes?

  • arbpen

    I use nofollow for links that are not necessary for the SE to follow, for example, links to different stylesheets.

    The colors change for the user, but that makes no difference to the SE, so no reason to follow the link. I also use it for certain login areas (of course I also have those areas protected server side, but it’s still less hits).

    I hope that Google and friends do NOT stop obeying the rel=”nofollow” rule.

    • jeff419

      I’m pretty sure Google still follows every link they find, they just don’t count the nofollow ones in their page rank algorithm.

      What you need to keep them out of certain areas of your site is a robots.txt file.

      • tgilbert

        Robots.txt only has limited application in some websites. If you can cordon off the content you don’t want indexed into specific folders, it works fine. But if you want to cordon content like replies or comments, you more often than not need to do it via the link structure, as it will live in a database or in folders which contain content you do want indexed.

        I must admit I did solve my photo problem (below) using robots.txt in the end. But the second example was not suited to this solution.

  • tgilbert

    I disagree that ‘rel=nofollow’ was established for blogs or to stop spam. And the author supports this view by commenting about its use on Wikipedia (which is not a blog). It has much broader applications that are valid. You can certainly establish agreed guidlines about where it is appropriate and where it is not, but there will always be valid reasons for its use.

    Example 1: my client publishes a lot of photos on his forum website, for the benefit of his members, but does not require a login to view them because they are part of what encourages new members. Google indexes the images and suddenly they become content in their own right, attracting users searching only for images and not for the topics they represent. His bandwidth goes through the roof and he can’t afford to run the site anymore unless it is stopped. Solution: noindex, nofollow.

    Example 2: my employer’s discussion website contains both content intended for public information and content intended for policy interpretation. While they are happy for search engines to index the public information content, the policy interpretation content can easily be taken out of context if read out of context. Solution: don’t let search engines index these pages in depth – noindex, nofollow.

    Even on a blog, there could be valid reasons to use ‘rel=nofollow’ – for example, I may think my original comments are more valid than your replies, so I only want search engines to feature my comments (as your replies may not reflect my opinions and may be taken as my views, especially if the users only read the search engine summaries).

    It’s not all about spam.

  • WebGeek182

    Wikipedia, make the right choice to keep their content quality and PageRank high. It was unpopular, but so what. One of the big arguments is that all of these 100’s of thousands of blogs link to Wikipedia, giving them their rank in the first place. True. People can start using rel=”nofollow” in their links to Wikipedia if they desire. – WebGeek

  • johntheadams

    I’m the Webmaster of a very popular karaoke e-commerce site, karaoke2go.com

    We use the rel=”nofollow” tag not only on external links (we don’t use it on reciprocal link-exchanges of course), but also for links to some of our own popup pages.

    We do this on our links to our popup pages because we don’t wish to waste search engine time going to a page that’s going to have the ” meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow” ” tag anyway. You see, search engines don’t just sit around going on wild goose chases through your website. Instead they have this nasty tendency to get tired (after all, even spiders get tired). We use the rel=”nofollow” tag on “non-reciprocal exchange” links such as a link to UPS because UPS doesn’t need our link, and again we want to make things quick and easy for the spider.

    If you were a spider, would you want to be baited with links promising you a juicy morsel only to be shooed-away once you got there? Or have a 10 Meg file shoved down your mouth?

    rel=”nofollow” was not designed to combat spammers, but rather to make it easier for spiders to navigate websites and produce what the Webmaster hopes for.

  • Bud Wiser

    I’ve been against the nofollow tag since it first came in the spot light. I continue to cover it occasionally on my site, www.armyofblogs.com

    In my opinion the nofollow is very ineffective and I might add has a major flaw that even google can not fix! Eventually those nofollow links do make their way on google :)

    But more important then that, the nofollow ignors the fact that most blog spammers spam blogs for traffic, NOT for near worthless BL status from Google.

    Finally, all the nofollow succeeds in doing is penalizing honest contributors. I have never used the nofollow, and as long as some one contributes in a meaningful way, I don’t care if they include a small plug for their site. That’s what the Internet is (or was) all about!

    For all these reasons, and more, I have long concluded, the nofollow tag is EVIL!

    btw, great post, and I have referenced it on one of my army of blogs with full credit. If you had trackback you would have seen that, but thats a nother topic?


  • http://www.goldfishcare.org Neale

    Couldnt agree more this whole external nofollow deal is BS Graet article thanks

  • http://www.stock-market-investors.com Bourse

    I doubt that the “nofollow” tag days are numbered. Certainly it doesn’t get the effect it was created for. So far it really hurts bloggers and only raises other issues. And spammers … well, unfortunately they are too creative and too insolent to be stopped by a single tag.

    I read somewhere though, that the effect of nofollow is already getting its creators into thinking whether it is really working and whether there is reason for bloggers’ protest against it. For example it has been suggested that the nofollow is used as a machine-readable disclosure for paid links, so that those links will not get credit in SE results.
    So I guess it is really possible that the nofollow tag is repurposed. But I don’t expect that to happen soon.

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