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5 Reasons I Like the NoFollow Tag

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 15 years and 13 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

I just got done reading yet another article considering the nofollow tag on GW’s blog, and after following his technorati tag for nofollow, I found near nothing but negative feedback on the tag from bloggers (who it was intended to assist). For this reason, I thought I’d try to defend the tag a bit, and provide a voice of dissent, and encouragement to G standards creators.

I have removed the nofollow from my comments, as I think most of the intentions of the tag were misdirected, but there are worthwhile applications from a development standpoint for the tag. I agree with Greg who leads us to dofollow and Jim on some of nofollow, but I think there are points to which everyone has overlooked.

Top 5 Reasons I like the NoFollow Tag

  1. With a simple plugin that is widely available I can see areas of untrusted linking and try to determine the logic.

  2. It’s a “backup” solution to indexing errors and passing link credibility to metas at a lower level in site development code. Think of it like voting for higher levels of credibility within your own sites structure.

  3. We’ll rarely ever again be able to know which links “count” anyways without highly unnecessary testing anyways..
  4. It’s helped to bring a whole mountain of new misinformation on “how to do SEO”, which was desperately needed, because frankly, I think it was getting about far to EASY to practice SEO about two years ago. I mean really…do you think they’re going to BRING BACK toolbar pagerank accuracy?
  5. With dynamic publishing technology improving, and duplicate content being a constant issue, more flexibilty over what gets indexed and credited by the search engines could possibly be a good thing in cases.

Nick calls it:
knee-jerk bandaid hurredly implemented to get bloggers and blog vendors off of Google/Yahoo’s back.

Which it did somewhat. It helped everyone be a little liable for the stupidity of newbie blog owners who couldn’t control their code from empowering spammers.

Nofollow is NOT really bad for the internet. It just changes things a bit, and perhaps has some substantial benefits that weren’t necessarily originally intentional.. It aids the engines in identifying block level content that is not trustworthy. It mainly hurts promisciuous linking, and assists with more precise indexing of content at the dynamically developed link level of content versus the higher page level meta tags previously available.

Nofollow will not stop spam, but it could potentially help when trying to overcome some site indexing issues at lower levels of a sites development hierarchy.

It really wasn’t the solution to blogspam, but it does potentially give trust passing flexibility for dynamically generated links which could potentially be an important variable depending on your site type and userbase.

I won’t use the nofollow on my comments anymore, but I will snip urls with an ironfist and hurl tiny bananas at anyone trying to linkdrop. It’s kinda hip to bash nofollow, but the bottom line is it gives a bit more flexibility as a webmaster or developer when making decisions about search engines and users.

What really cracks me up about most the griping is that myself included we are all using freely available software where the companies were just trying to maintain lower liability by not supporting potentially highly offensive spam. The blog software companies and SE’s now have their asses covered, and we now have a new tag to experiment with.

While my true feelings for the tag are probably ambivalent at best, as it will likely lose mass adoption and be minimal for any kind of effectiveness on near anything before too long. It DID change the link profile of the web, however, if only for an internet instant.
Tags: Nofollow

Comments on Nofollow at

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  • briang

    I have two issues with the nofollow tag
    1)Isn’t one of Googles goals to have it’s bot see the same content as viewers? If I write a web site that delibertly shows googlebot different content, I’m considered a spammer. but isn’t the nofollow tag doing the same thing in reverse?

    2) It seems that an important way to develop backlinks is to become part of the net community. Posting on blogs, posting on forums, joining social networks etc. Yes, these sites can also be abused by spammers. But they can also be used by people who want to legitimatly promote their site by posting relevant content. Spammers will allways be there, if not with comment spam then thell find other methods. But if we take away legitimate web site promotion, aren’t we tempting people to go to blackhat SEOs

  • Hawaii SEO

    Hi Todd,

    This is interesting for me.

    Why didn’t you post a comment on Grey’s blog?

    You could have said:
    “I disagree and this is a short synopsis of why.”

    Instead of hogging the comments on Grey’s blog with a long dissenting rant, you could provide a link to your post in his comments so people who are interested in reading more can do so.

    You would also get some link love because Grey doesn’t use No Follow.

    (Or is this rude)

    Just wondering. Sometimes I feel compelled to post long comments but I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to link a comment to my blog either because that might also be rude.

    What is your preference? You can read more of my comments on the subject Grey’s blog.

  • Neil Patel

    The bad thing about the NoFollow tag is that certain search engines don’t follow them.

  • Lea

    Nofollow is a convoluted subject.
    It is valuable (for us) that newbs have it on their blog – when they abandon it, the spamming-to-death will have no value.
    It is a zero-sum for experienced bloggers, provided their software lets them turn it off.
    Perhaps what the various blog software needed to do was write in enough smarts that the software could detect an abandoned or unmoderated blog?

    It is becoming scary for us pros, with G’s continual insistence that any link that is paid for should be nofollowed. I have sites where I sell links, but the link must meet my TOS. Those links are extremely on topic and add value for the visitor – why the heck would I nofollow them?
    Will I nofollow these clients? Nup.
    Will Google ban me for this one day? … I don’t know.

    (and Hawaii SEO? Trackback is the way thats handled )

    (Todd, this textarea is tiny! Could you make it a bit wider?)

  • maxpower

    I’ve written a lot about nofollow in recent days. I feel strongly that nofollow does more harm than good. I’m not a tinfoil hat type at all, but I can’t believe google thought that nofollow would curtail webspam. Instead, I think it was introduced under the guise of fighting spam but it’s real purpose is to segment the web into two camps; 1. editorial content, and 2. non-biased content.

    The problem with this idea is that all content is biased in some way, so who is to say which opinion (bias) is correct?

    I don’t know the answer, but I do know that by using nofollow on my blog, I am discounting all the opinions found within it. Meanwhile, other sites don’t use nofollow and are still “editorial” in nature. When google computes its rankings, it factors in nofollow… guess who comes out on top?

    I’m not saying that nofollow doesn’t have its uses, but the blind wholehearted use by all bloggers is certainly no good for the blogging community.

  • Briang

    “Those links are extremely on topic and add value for the visitor – why the heck would I nofollow them?
    Will I nofollow these clients? Nup.
    Will Google ban me for this one day? … I don’t know.”

    I don’t think I’d want to pay for a nofollow link.
    If Google doesn’t like the way you run your site that’s Google’s problem.

    Maybe this whole issue goes back to over dependence on links for ranking. Not that it shouldn’t be a factor. But it seems that it’s such a major factor in ranking, that in encourages link spam. Which is the whole reason the nofollow tag issue came up.

  • Igor M.

    Todd … Ok … great, you allow the links, BUT what about the whole issue of google ranking you by who you link to? I mean … this means that your site will link to many other sites and even though they might be relevant, you never know what neighborhood those guys will link to.

    On the other hand … this is my first comment on your blog and part of the reason for the comment is the clean link I’ll get … but comments are legitimate.

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  • spitbook

    Does removing nofollow have an effect on ones site? If not, then everyone should just remove it.

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  • Automotive SEO

    Nofollow was the BEST thing to happen to SEO in a long time.

    Those who have been in the business have faced the websites who have had an army of bloggers, posters, sig bandits, and the good ol’ guestbookers who googlebombed their way into the top spot with adwords and affiliate laden sites.

    nofollow evens the field a bit by forcing real techniques, quality content, and true link-building versus the standards that were in place a year or so ago.

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  • kalpesh

    I seriously hate nofollow tags. If you want to protect from spam you can moderate and delete comments. Why penalise serious bloggers who visit your site, become loyal readers only to be treated at par with spammers. nofollow may be SEO technique but it can hamper the spirits of serious bloggers who want to contribute genuinly.

  • Dan

    To follow up on spitbooks question “Does removing nofollow have an effect on ones site? If not, then everyone should just remove it.” I don’t know the answer to this but am curious to see if someone out there has more information on this.

  • mlankton

    I have no problem with nofollow. Google is in the business of making sure that serps and pr mean something, and if nofollow helps maintain that integrity then who are we to argue. I certainly am more interested in building a sound foundation for my site, and link schemes and pr manipulation sound like just as easy a path to tearing your site down as building it up.

  • Paul Counts

    I really enjoyed your article on the NoFollow Tag. I used to hate it, but I recently discovered some great benefits to it, some of which you mentioned in your post. The big thing that I found to use it is when you have it on a blog and you are passing Pagerank to and StumbleUpon, etc. By implementing it you can limit the amount of outbound links from your domain which really can help you.

    One other great benefit is to use the NoFollow Tag on affiliate websites where you do not want Google to penalize your website for having too many affiliate links.

    If you used properly you can make the NoFollow tag an effective SEO strategy.

    Great post!

  • the reo guy

    Here’s my issue with nofollow vs. dofollow.

    -decreases spam, even though comment moderation should be in effect.

    -encourages users to write relevant comments that bring overall value to the actual post
    -blog authors can choose whether or not to approve the relevant comment and give out the link love

    Now, when will we know whether or not Google will penalize people that use dofollow? Does anyone have any information on what Matt Cutts thinks of dofollow?

  • John Illnes

    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

  • Save Information

    Great info man,,, but what’s the benefit from nofollow in the future?

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  • amreekandesi

    I removed the nofollow tag from my blog a while back, and havent had any problems related to spam levels suddenly going up.