Search Marketing Consultant

Web Marketing & Search Engine Consultant

rel = nofollow – we’re never going to hear the end of this

nofollow - the nightmare begins

There has been a significant amount of talk around nofollow and things were piping down when suddenly we were informed that nofollow is an attribute webmasters can use to:

modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity

I’ve heard people rejoicing in forums I follow – I’m not convinced it’s this great option.

The good things:

  • Now we’re sure there isn’t any obscure penalty if you use nofollow on Google
  • We can create a page rank path within our websites

The bad things:

  • People are going to go nuts over this issue of nofollowing links
  • Clients are going to ask stupid questions

Some facts from my (very limited) point of view

  • Internal page rank is only a (small) portion of the picture – we don’t really know how small it is. This brings me back to the days at university, I was in my 3rd year – he once asked:
    "do you know the difference between a mathematician and an engineer ?" Of course nobody knew and his answer was:

    For a mathematician it’s a serious error to assume

    1 – 0,001 = 1

    and it’s just as big a mistake for an engineer to assume

    1 – 0,001 = 0,999

    We’re not mathematicians, or researchers, but professionals – spending time and money on researching the flow of page rank within a website probably isn’t the best way to go: in a nutshell, I don’t believe this is in the best interest of a website.  If a link isn’t necessary then just get rid of it.

  • There are some cases of very large template based dynamic websites where menus, essential to navigation, are repetitive, lengthy, and can be excluded
  • People are greedy, many will do anything for a link – expect a new wave of deceptive nofollow linking

People get lost in technicalities, they see the tree but ignore the forest: a 30% increase on a factor that weighs only 10% is a net 3% increase in performance – is nofollow really worth pursuing ?  No, not in most cases where content is scarce and external linking sucks …

6 Replies

  1. very clever. what do you mean by deceptive no follow linking? do you mean to say they can fool my browser’s no follow link detector plugin? that would make the world pretty chaotic.

  2. no,
    but in principle there are many people totally unaware of this attribute and some will take advantage of this.

    Of course there will be those like yourself who are knowledgeable and will defend themselves, but I see a lot of slime in our future …

  3. Rel=nofollow does not mean “do not follow”. It means, “do not vouch”. Google submitted it to a standards body and got Yahoo and MSN on board.

    What if Yahoo and MSN suddenly decide that adding rel=nofollow to internal links flags a site a being obviously over-SEO’d? If Google rewards you and Yahoo penalizes you for the same technique (which was originally designed only to combat spam comments), the standard is broken and we would theoretically have to resort to cloaking rel=nofollow links.

    I would be surprised if this recommendation from Google lasts.

  4. Well yes there has been a shift with this latest declaration and, as time goes and word spreads from mouth to mouth (or should I say from blog to blog) it will get distorted even more.

    Like I said, in principle I’m not in favor of manipulating internal linking with nofollow. I will be more careful about placing redundant links within a page and do more detailed page level studies to understand just how much attention a link attracts and see if it is really useful – if the users are clicking then there’s an opportunity for removing it.

    Sounds more natural to me and like a solution that will pay off in the long term – we’ll see

  5. I understand how nofollow can be useful with external links, but why would anyone want to alter pagerank within their site if not only to influence ad income?
    Just let nature decide.