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Why Do You NoFollow?

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Once upon a time, the prince of SEO, Matt Cutts, said that only a small percentage of web links are nofollowed, and we shouldn’t pay much attention to it.

Matt Cuts O RLY?

I must only be surfing that small portion of the web because I rarely see external “editorial” links that are followable anymore.  I think it’s sad.  Many of these are the editorial links Google originally built an algorithm around, but simply failed to measure the link graph for a publisher’s intent.

Google.  What have you done???

So I have questions for all you bloggers, webmasters, spammers, etc:

The major blog and social media platforms nofollow all posted links by default.  They blame spam, but in this automated world, where they press a button to spam 10k blog comments, is the nofollow really deterring anyone?

We’ve been told that Page Rank scultpting doesn’t work anymore, but are some of us still concerned with leaking Page Rank?  Or have the other signals stepped up to pick up where Page Rank leaves off?

Does having a lot of nofollows signal to Google that you care about them not misunderstanding your endorsement, or does it signal that you really don’t care who you link to?

Or do you think the nofollow is being counted (somewhat) by Google now anyway, and it doesn’t really matter?

Personally, I leave this blog dofollow.  I get a lot of spam that gets caught either by my spam script, or by my own eye.  It’s not difficult to moderate – in fact, it’s actually fun.  I see the comments and get a chance to contribute to the conversation.  My old company used to moderate comments for the NFL and other leagues; it was quite managable.  In the past I had clearly marked rules and regulations for my own sites, where I would clearly state what kind of comments and guest posts I would allow (or turn on the “dofollow” for).  If someone gave enough of a damn to leave me a comment and engage me, I’d like to see them get a little token of my appreciation.

I think the whole nofollow thing is a Google protocol that has gotten out of hand, and in light of Pandas and Penguins, I think we need these good editorial links back.  I think we need a fundamental shift in this industry, but I don’t have the voice to declare it.

What do you think?

 

 


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    Comments

    The comments are do-follow. However, any comments that use keyword anchor text as the name will be removed.

    1. Rick
      May 15, 2012

      Damn straight. In hindsight, I’d bet that many at Google privately feel nofollow was a failure. In many regards it has contributed to link buying/selling and the link graph is screwed up because many of the best (highest quality) links are nofollow.

      That said, if I see a site that has the vast majority of links followable, I’m reasonable confident they’re link buying. Seems to be a common occurrence for those hit with the un-natural lining penalty. Funny how chasing followable links can work against you.

      Reply


    2. Rick
      May 15, 2012

      Damn straight. In hindsight, I’d bet that many at Google privately feel nofollow was a failure. In many regards it has contributed to link buying/selling and the link graph is screwed up because many of the best (highest quality) links are nofollow.

      That said, if I see a site that has the vast majority of links followable, I’m reasonable confident they’re link buying. Seems to be a common occurrence for those hit with the un-natural lining penalty. Funny how chasing followable links can work against you.

      Reply


    3. Jason Nelson
      May 15, 2012

      Good post Bill. The link landscape is crazy now. A lot of people are afraid to have “dofollow” links on their site. I shouldn’t even be commenting here as I don’t want them anyway ;)

      Reply


      • @billsebald
        May 15, 2012

        Well Jason, I’m glad you did comment. And hopefully Google gets its story straight soon.

        Reply


    4. Jason Nelson
      May 15, 2012

      Good post Bill. The link landscape is crazy now. A lot of people are afraid to have “dofollow” links on their site. I shouldn’t even be commenting here as I don’t want them anyway ;)

      Reply


      • @billsebald
        May 15, 2012

        Well Jason, I’m glad you did comment. And hopefully Google gets its story straight soon.

        Reply


    5. John
      May 16, 2012

      Here’s how I see it: A link is either worth publishing, or it isn’t.

      If one publishes a link with a nofollow tag, it is like saying the link is good enough for the readers but not good enough for the search engines… and what kind of logic is that?!

      Reply


      • Mark
        August 17, 2012

        That’s some tidy logic right there John, I wholeheartedly agree with your theory.

        Reply


    6. John
      May 16, 2012

      Here’s how I see it: A link is either worth publishing, or it isn’t.

      If one publishes a link with a nofollow tag, it is like saying the link is good enough for the readers but not good enough for the search engines… and what kind of logic is that?!

      Reply


    7. Scott
      May 16, 2012

      Leveraging and having the ability to sell or offer follow links has been abused by some so GOOG puts obstacles and tactics in place to scare and make things harder. Folks now do more nofollows as they think that is what GOOG wants and is safe.

      The big boys still trade direct links in private networks and can take sites that are nothing to hero in a short time by dropping them into these networks.

      IMO nofollow links have value and are part of a healthy link profile so I still get them for my clients.

      Reply


    8. Scott
      May 16, 2012

      Leveraging and having the ability to sell or offer follow links has been abused by some so GOOG puts obstacles and tactics in place to scare and make things harder. Folks now do more nofollows as they think that is what GOOG wants and is safe.

      The big boys still trade direct links in private networks and can take sites that are nothing to hero in a short time by dropping them into these networks.

      IMO nofollow links have value and are part of a healthy link profile so I still get them for my clients.

      Reply


    9. Capn' Midnight
      May 16, 2012

      I don’t nofollow. A real link graph is a wild link graph, so it’s Google’s burden. I run a lot of affiliate sites – some may I say are on the spammy side, and I’ve never seen a benefit from nofollowing.

      Reply


    10. Capn' Midnight
      May 16, 2012

      I don’t nofollow. A real link graph is a wild link graph, so it’s Google’s burden. I run a lot of affiliate sites – some may I say are on the spammy side, and I’ve never seen a benefit from nofollowing.

      Reply


    11. Cliff
      May 16, 2012

      You should link to relevant and helpful content so I just assume a non-follow could potentially hurt your own relavance. I only non-follow when I link to a google search phrase since they aren’t perm links.

      Reply


    12. Cliff
      May 16, 2012

      You should link to relevant and helpful content so I just assume a non-follow could potentially hurt your own relavance. I only non-follow when I link to a google search phrase since they aren’t perm links.

      Reply


    13. gioseo
      May 16, 2012

      But we actually don’t have any better ideas than nofollow, right? I think nofollow prevents lot of spam links.

      Reply


    14. gioseo
      May 16, 2012

      But we actually don’t have any better ideas than nofollow, right? I think nofollow prevents lot of spam links.

      Reply


    15. Jeremy McDonald
      May 17, 2012

      I’ve seen far too much nofollow. To me it doesn’t make sense. Either you accept it to be legitimate, non spam and worth publishing or you don’t!

      Reply


    16. Jeremy McDonald
      May 17, 2012

      I’ve seen far too much nofollow. To me it doesn’t make sense. Either you accept it to be legitimate, non spam and worth publishing or you don’t!

      Reply


    17. Gerald Martin
      May 17, 2012

      I understand why people are scared of those do-follow links; one of the reasons is that it’s a huge bait for a lot of web spammers. I wouldn’t want my site to be the home of a lot of robots (or even people) who are only there to just leave their links behind with the mindset of getting link juice from me.

      SEO people have been talking about “balancing” the no-follow and do-follow links because they still think that no matter what attribute a link has, it’s still a link and it can still bring a site traffic. Businesses still hire SEO companies that have that link building mindset. Even the line of SEO resellers are also going for link building with that mindset.

      Reply


    18. Gerald Martin
      May 17, 2012

      I understand why people are scared of those do-follow links; one of the reasons is that it’s a huge bait for a lot of web spammers. I wouldn’t want my site to be the home of a lot of robots (or even people) who are only there to just leave their links behind with the mindset of getting link juice from me.

      SEO people have been talking about “balancing” the no-follow and do-follow links because they still think that no matter what attribute a link has, it’s still a link and it can still bring a site traffic. Businesses still hire SEO companies that have that link building mindset. Even the line of SEO resellers are also going for link building with that mindset.

      Reply


    19. LaurentB
      May 17, 2012

      I always believed somebody who can’t control its content shouldn’t open comments.
      Nofollow blew up in Google’s face for all the reasons you state.

      Reply


    20. LaurentB
      May 17, 2012

      I always believed somebody who can’t control its content shouldn’t open comments.
      Nofollow blew up in Google’s face for all the reasons you state.

      Reply


    21. Mike
      May 17, 2012

      Kind of thought provoking. We just do what Google says without really thinking about whether it makes sense or not.

      I mean, Google is usually on top of link changes before SEOs pick up on it. So maybe the nofollow is dead, or at least weak. Kind of like how pagerank stopped mattering heavily YEARS before we found out.

      Reply


    22. Mike
      May 17, 2012

      Kind of thought provoking. We just do what Google says without really thinking about whether it makes sense or not.

      I mean, Google is usually on top of link changes before SEOs pick up on it. So maybe the nofollow is dead, or at least weak. Kind of like how pagerank stopped mattering heavily YEARS before we found out.

      Reply


    23. Douglas Thomas
      May 17, 2012

      I think NoFollows are counted in some way — they’re only slightly less correlated than links according to http://www.theopenalgorithm.com/correlation-data/links/ — that can’t be ignored by the algorithm. It might be a simple count vs. link juice passing with anchor text.

      Either way though, I think it’s standard to have comments and most signature links in forums be no-followed, and that’s because of the spam value there. While it’s easy to manage most blog spam, forum spam is much harder to sift through, and either is still too much of a pain if something gets through.

      I feel that most legitimate blog commenting is aware of the situation and aren’t expecting much value from the link itself, but use it for marketing one’s own personal brand.

      Reply


      • Jay
        June 14, 2012

        i agree with the first part of what Douglas Thomas is getting at:

        “I think NoFollows are counted in some way — they’re only slightly less correlated than links according to http://www.theopenalgorithm.com/correlation-data/links/ — that can’t be ignored by the algorithm. It might be a simple count vs. link juice passing with anchor text.”

        this has been our assessment through trial and tribulations.

        nofollow is to be used to your advantage. we leave our sites follow, and apply nofollow where we please, as we please. Your just controlling your juice flow that’s all and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s part of running a website and leveraging for your ultimate gain. That’s the goal of any website.

        it’s fascinating really

        i wouldn’t understand why people would be scared to give them at their discretion.

        Reply


    24. Douglas Thomas
      May 17, 2012

      I think NoFollows are counted in some way — they’re only slightly less correlated than links according to http://www.theopenalgorithm.com/correlation-data/links/ — that can’t be ignored by the algorithm. It might be a simple count vs. link juice passing with anchor text.

      Either way though, I think it’s standard to have comments and most signature links in forums be no-followed, and that’s because of the spam value there. While it’s easy to manage most blog spam, forum spam is much harder to sift through, and either is still too much of a pain if something gets through.

      I feel that most legitimate blog commenting is aware of the situation and aren’t expecting much value from the link itself, but use it for marketing one’s own personal brand.

      Reply


      • Jay
        June 14, 2012

        i agree with the first part of what Douglas Thomas is getting at:

        “I think NoFollows are counted in some way — they’re only slightly less correlated than links according to http://www.theopenalgorithm.com/correlation-data/links/ — that can’t be ignored by the algorithm. It might be a simple count vs. link juice passing with anchor text.”

        this has been our assessment through trial and tribulations.

        nofollow is to be used to your advantage. we leave our sites follow, and apply nofollow where we please, as we please. Your just controlling your juice flow that’s all and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s part of running a website and leveraging for your ultimate gain. That’s the goal of any website.

        it’s fascinating really

        i wouldn’t understand why people would be scared to give them at their discretion.

        Reply


    25. Mike Neal
      July 5, 2012

      I would suggest that No Follow links MUST be positively factored into Google’s algorithm, more so now than ever (perhaps they were *completely* discounted in the early days,) for the simple reason that many of the sort of links that they used to use as signals are now NF, that the remaining websites that still use DF are decreasing as people are scared to have their links DF through fear of being treated with suspicion and/or being bombarded with spam. But I don’t see the this shift being any different to any other shift. Once a ranking factor is fully understood/identified it can be gamed, once it’s being gamed, the SE’s have to switch the game up (unless it’s a pure ‘site quality’ factor) . Doesn’t matter whether it’s links, keyword tags/stuffing, hidden text etc. If 100% of sites on the web used Nofollow on all of their outbound links, I can’t see Google abandoning one of their biggest ranking factors.

      Reply