5 Reasons why nofollow will not follow

When I first read about the “NoFollow” link attribute, I was quite impressed. “why not?” I thought… it certainly makes a lot of sense in the fight against keyword spamming and artificial linking.
Over time, however, and especially these last few months, many things changed in the industry, especially regarding the “link buying” issue.
After carefully examining numerous cases, I have come to the conclusion that “NoFollow” will not stand.
Here are my top 5 reasons why…

Follow :-) to read the explanations…

1. nofollow is not a real web standard

Even the wikipedia definition of the nofollow attribute clearly states nofollow is a non-standard attribute. The main problem is that most content management systems and platforms cannot support it, the HTML validation tools cannot support it and the most problematic issue is that except for people in the SEO industry, nobody really knows about it, therefore the adoption of its use is done only in heavily SEO oriented organizations.

2. Link Laundering is only the start

Check out Andy Beard’s interesting, yet spam-oriented loophole strategy. How long do you think until more and more will invent such strategies? Will this help clean the web, or will it make it even more “dirty” and filled with spam and duplicated content?

3. Is nofollow a myth? Or does Google actually follow the nofollow too???

We’ve seen evidence that Google and Yahoo! read nofollow links, follow them, and use them during the searching-indexing-ranking processes. Take a look at Yahoo!’s back links counter and you will surely find links from nofollow environments. We’ve seen many cases where nofollow links where the key differentiating factor in ranking boosts. Is it true or is it a myth? Is it truly a way to clean the web or to declare you are SEO knowledgeable? If I do adopt NoFollow on my websites – does this mean I am selling links? Should that raise the red flag for Google about my actions? Is it really cleaning spam or is is Blackhat SEO bait?

4. Link Love is History?

Authority sites have begun implementing NoFollow…

Sites selling links have begun using nofollow.

  • Magazine sites
  • Blogs – nofollow the comments
  • Wikipedia – nofollow your outgoing links
  • Sponsored blog posts – nofollow the links.

So what’s next? Yahoo! directory? Business.com? Links from PRweb? Digg? Stumbleupon? Facebook? Businesswire? so what links do count? only .edu and .gov? Where does that leave Bob and his Online Fruit Store? Where will he and other sites receive Link Love?

5. nofollow is taking the core out of the world wide web – pure linking.

The web is based on hyperlinks, guiding our surfing experience. Even pagerank is based on that concept. I am suggesting in this post that Nofollow undermines the very nature of the web! The largest, most influential organization on the planet, along with its two rivals is attempting to set the rules of the game… in their favor. This is why, in the long term, the web of the masses will win. The web of “mom and pop” online stores, blogs, geocities pages, social networks and the web of content written by users for other users to read, use, reuse, syndicate, share, link, print, send and do whatever they want with it, with no “big brother” issuing a “license to link” and taking the website owners for a “test drive” every time they link, or they won’t get their permit.

Your thoughts are most welcome!

Categories: General, SEO, Web Marketing

6 Responses so far.

  1. Marc Levy says:

    Great post… couldn’t agree more! Whilst no-follow is no doubt very useful for controlling link flow internally within a site, having it attached to external links has done nothing but make the dark side of SEO even darker!

    Links make up the web… so who knows what the future holds! The only way to escape this mess is for the big search engines to work off an algo that does not rely on links. Can you ever see that happening????

  2. Marc Levy says:

    ps. I see you no-follow your blog comments ;)

  3. Ophir Cohen says:

    Marc- Thankyou for your comments.

    With regards to your no-links algo I have a few notes:
    A. Google collects valuable information from users through the various services such as gmail, toolbar, reader and most importantly – Analytics.
    As of now, they do not state whether they are and/or intending to use it for their ranking algorithms or not. I can only guess that they most probably are testing that and will use it in the future to a certain extent.

    B. There are quite a few patents google registered with regards to link evaluation. One of the most interesing subjects is the temporal linking algorithm which takes into account the time factor and link freshness. We’ve seen this in some cases where new links “boosted” our rankings for a while, and then cooled down. So here’s another direction.

    With regards to your second comemnt – Yes, I also use nofollow in my blog comments and that’s for 2 main reasons:

    A. Even if I don’t like it, this is the new rule in our game.
    B. It does reduce in a way the interet of comment spammers from spamming me continuously.

    You can see that in the posts I do not put nofollow, and actually at this point I don’ think I will, as I control the content myself. In websites with no or little moderation such as UGC (user generated content) sites such as flickr, delicious and so on, the little/no moderation creates a huge spam loophole which is expoilted by blackhats.

  4. Marc Levy says:

    Thanks for the in depth explanation and tips… always good to get a response from a high level SEO.

    I for one completely agree on no-follow for blog comments. Most people don’t have time to moderate every blog comment dropped and as you said the spammers take huge advantage of this, which can lead to you unknowingly linking to bad neighbourhoods..

    This is definitely one area where no-follow is useful for external linking. Keep up the great blog!

  5. Olivier Amar says:

    Number 3 sounds very familiar… I think I remember making a comment very similar to that one and being told I was wrong (after I explained it, however, I was given a window of doubt and then told I was speaking on a plane higher than most could understand). Nice to receive backing in a blog by a high level SEO guy!

  6. John Illnes says:

    The official claim is that links with the rel=nofollow attribute do not influence the search engine rankings of the target page. In addition to Google, Yahoo and MSN also support the rel=nofollow attribute.

    i think it helps indexing

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