What’s the Big Deal with the “NoFollow” Tag, Anyway?

What’s the Big Deal with the “NoFollow” Tag, Anyway?

The “no follow” link ( <a href=”http://www.targetdomain.com” rel=”nofollow”>anchor text</a> ) was created in order to prevent search engines from following links within blog comments. The rationale was simple: spammers constantly use blogs to spam because this gets them better SEO results and higher quality link-backs, and this would stop the spammers. Unfortunately, that logic has proven false.

Spammers have not stopped spamming. NoFollow doesn’t work to stop them. Spammers have other ways of getting rankings. And of course the NoFollow link has gone beyond blogs, and found its way into other types of websites.

NoFollow links should not even be in use if bloggers moderate comments made. If you can pass the “human inspection test”, you should be able to have search engines follow your links. It’s really that simple. But, on WordPress blogs, NoFollow is the default format.

Therefore, they (as in the bloggers) might be trying to build their search engine presence in a legitimate way with linkbacks but getting nowhere fast–without even being aware of the problem.

Why would anyone in their right mind use NoFollow if they are trying to build up online presence value? And just think about the way someone builds up the value of a blog by adding comments–if they present a link, why should they not be given the credit for a link-back?

Why should they be victimized by this “NoFollow” tag when they are not a spammer?

As a matter of fact, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg has said “In theory [the NoFollow link] should work perfectly, but in practice although all major blogging tools did this two years ago and comment and trackback spam is still 100 times worse now. In hindsight, I don’t think nofollow had much of an effect, though I’m still glad we tried it.”

If you link to someone with a NoFollow value, you certainly aren’t really showing any trust to them. It’s like shaking someone’s hand but secretly spraying down your hand with Lysol first.

And then there are all those naive newbie webmasters who in the name of site-protection do the NoFollow tag for every and any outgoing links at their website to “protect the site from page rank leakage”–whatever that’s supposed to mean.

It really gets outrageous after a while. Search engines, even Google, ignore the NoFollow links, but where does it end? Shouldn’t the serach engines be the ones responsible for filtering out untrustworthy links?

Why should they be looking for some “NoFollow” nonsense? And this just kills off text link ads, by the way–kind of like trying to get your wife pregnant while you both use birth control at the same time.

Having said all this, Google is constantly evolving and it has programmed itself to allow at least some following of “NoFollow” tagged links. Yahoo has always been doing this, but then again Yahoo, as important as it is, is not nearly as important as Google when it comes to search engines.

There are key ways in which you can use a NoFollow tag. If you’re doing SEO, only place the NoFollow tags on content pages. Just keep in mind that a website that has tons of unverified links won’t make it big with the webcrawlers anyway, so why waste time and possibly screw up other parts of your website’s SEO effectiveness with NoFollow? Never forget that there are, in fact, some significant SEO benefits from freely linking out.

And what if you sell ads on a blog or on some landing page? well, that’s when you can use a NoFollow tag, since the almighty Google webcrawlers don’t favor followed ad links for SEO purposes.

All in all, you have to know when to use a NoFollow tag. There’s no reason at all to just shotgun the approach. The tag really does not prevent spammers from doing what they know how to do and there are far more effective means of stopping such critters. You don’t want to stop legitimate online business practices in the name of an inferior method of spam prevention.