SEO-No! Wikipedia Nofollows Outbound Links

    January 22, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

If using a well-made Wikipedia entry to boost a site’s PageRank has been part of your search optimization strategy, you will have to cross that tactic off the list.

SEO professionals have spoken at search oriented conferences about the benefits of being listed in Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia has taken a step that those search optimization pros won’t like very much.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales asked the site’s administrators to set all external links to have the ‘nofollow’ attribute. This deprives linked sites of the benefit they normally got with search engines from those links.

Wikipedia administrator Brion Vibber said in an email to Wikipedia’s mailing list that rumors of a “search engine optimization world championship” contest targeting the site had come to their attention in recent weeks.

Several marketing professionals commented on the change, and said that it removes one motivation for spammers to go after Wikipedia. Rand Fishkin approved of it even though it impacts an area where he works online:

“I’m glad to see that Wikipedia has shifted back to nofollow on all outbound links. What surprises me is that a relatively small-time SEO contest was the catalyst.”

Seth Finkelstein also said the change should dispel the myth that Wikipedia is purely a user-driven site:

“Let me be clear – in many cases, I think Jimmy Wales’ decisions are right, and in fact a necessarily corrective to the impulses of crowds. But they sure are top-down CEO-type actions. The propaganda of Wikipedia should be proven transparently false every time one of these events happens.”

Andy Beal thinks Wikipedia deserves a taste of its own medicine:

“In response, any future links to Wikipedia from us, will include a NOFOLLOW. Maybe if we all take that approach, Wikipedia will lose its PageRank and won’t have to worry about link-spam any longer.”

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.