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Does “Nofollow” Attribute Work? Google Says Yes, Studies Say Otherwise

Below you will find some awesome reads about PageRank and NoFollow that you can read AFTER you read my post, of course :]

http://www.thegamereviews.com/story-1-Google-NoFollow-on-Links-working.html
http://www.michellemacphearson.com/do-nofollow-links-count-redux/
http://www.fastblogfinder.com/can-nofollow-links-hurt-you/
http://www.seomoz.org/blog/pagerank-sculpting-with-nofollow-still-works/
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/discussion-once-more-at-wikipedia-about-the-use-of-nofollow/4164/
http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/006800.html
http://www.jonwaraas.com/nofollow-test-results-are-in/
http://www.bubub.org/rel_nofollow_test.html
http://www.seomoz.org/blog/an-update-to-our-testing-on-pagerank-sculpting-with-nofollow

Before we get started I would like to say that I DO NOT believe in the NoFollow attribute. Not in the sense I don’t believe in the ethical use of it but in the sense that I don’t believe it works. The only thing I believe it’s good for is keeping you from getting a penalty when linking to a site which is banned by Google. Otherwise, I think it’s fairly worthless. Now that this is out of the way, let’s begin with the blog post :)

One of the popular trends over search engine optimization over the past few years has been to use NoFollow tags on your links as an attribute that tells search engines the linking page doesn’t apoint editorial trust for the resource it’s referring with a link. The reason you would want to do this is to cut off the flow of Page Rank and other SEO benefits that links receive, in order to prevent others from receiving it or redirecting it to other areas on your own website. However, many individuals now wonder whether NoFollow tags still work at all.


When has NoFollow Traditionally Been Used?

There are several different times that the NoFollow tag would traditionally be used. The first of this is on blog comments and forum links.dofollow-nofollow-links

Due to the abundance of spamming and other illicit and annoying strategies, webmasters began putting NoFollow on these links in order to tell the search engines to disregard them completely.

That way, no matter what kind of poor or blackhat websites tried to get links from you, the NoFollow would stop the spread of your “link juice” or your Page Rank value.

Another method for using NoFollow was for Page Rank sculpting on your own website. You could NoFollow specific pages within your website, in order to build it up higher on other pages of your site.

Since your PR is distributed throughout your entire site and all of its pages, with less pages getting it distributed, the theory was that this would help the pages included get higher PR values.

But does it still work?

Google and other search engines seem to have shifted their views on the NoFollow tag these days, in large amount due to the over usage of it to try to alter Page Rank and search engine rankings, as with PR sculpting described above.

Now, Google has recommended basically that NoFollow only been used on blog comments when you really wouldn’t trust what’s being put out there. In other situations, the usage of NoFollow has now been frowned upon.

When used within your own site, you are essentially manipulating the rankings and algorithms to try to get certain pages more favor within the rankings.

Of course the search engines don’t take kindly too this, and so when they see this happening your site can be marked as a black hat website, and could even be delisted or penalized in the rankings. It’s a serious consequence for a strategy that was probably never quite as effective as people hoped for.

Additionally, even when you do use NoFollow tags on your standard outbound links, some of your Page Rank value is still passed through! That’s right, even with that tag, the fact that there is a link at all means that some of your PR value is leaking out anyway. Therefore, the NoFollow tag has become somewhat obsolete, because it’s either viewed as being black hat, or it fails to truly do what it was originally created to do.

What it Means for the Future

The world of search engine optimization is always changing. That means that while the NoFollow tag has gotten some bad press lately, it doesn’t mean that it’s always going to remain that way.

It also means that just because Google or one search engine or platform speaks against it, it doesn’t mean that other services will do the same, and it doesn’t mean you have to abandon some strategies that you find are truly valuable or effective.

However, always keep in mind that when you engage in activities that are manipulating the way the search engine formulas evaluate your website and rank your website, you are putting yourself at risk for falling into a black hat or illicit category.

That’s a chance that in most cases you do not want to be taking, and using NoFollow for PageRank sculpting is currently being considered in that light.

Stick to using NoFollow on blog or forum comments that you really don’t want to vouch for at all, and the impact will be minimal and you will not lose any ground either. In other cases, open up your links because NoFollow is no longer being accepted and worked with in the way that it was originally put out there.

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