OK, I admit it, I used to be the kind of guy who was tied up with using nofollow links to channel PageRank authority to my blogs self-serving links. But I recently read a blog post over at Blue Jar, and subsequently found a great WordPress plugin for Nofollow Reciprocity, which opened my eyes to “dofollow” blog links.
For the uninitiated, nofollow tags are attributes which you can add to your href link tags to tell Google And Yahoo not to pass page trust or authority to the link target:
<a href=”http://www.google.com” rel=”nofollow”>Google</a>
Google has stated they won’t even follow or index the link, but a number of SEOs, myself included, don’t necessarily believe that claim. But for the purposes of this discussion, all we really need to understand is that Google definitely doesn’t pass PageRank value through nofollow tags. So how does that help you? Arguably, you can channel more link authority to your own pages via your internal link structure. So how does this hurt you?
Unfortunately, the use of nofollow tags has really impeded the original concept behind the open and free exchange of ideas on the Internet. Since so much traffic is dependent on Google today (and one can argue that the Internet as a whole is way too overly dependent on Google) the excessive use of nofollow tags hurts everyone’s chances of ranking well in Google. And by everyone, I mean the majority of website owners which own relatively small sites and blogs. As a result, there is less traffic to all our sites, which means less exchange of ideas.
Google relies heavily on links to rank pages in their search engine index. We know that the more relevant, quality links you have to your site, the better chances you have of being ranked for the keywords used in those links on Google. But if all the links coming to your site are nofollow, Google is probably going to discount all of them and you won’t rank well at all. It’s mostly small site and blog owners who are going to suffer from this cycle, hence the idea behind Nofollow Reciprocity. The Nofollow Reciprocity plugin for WordPress automatically tags links to large websites which use nofollow as nofollow links, effectively treating them the same way they treat you.
Large site owners, such as Wikipedia, etc., all make use of nofollow tags. They don’t care if they don’t pass any PageRank or authority to your website, because they’ve got plenty and there’s nothing you can do about it. But what we can do about it is start spreading link authority amongst ourselves. By allowing “dofollow” links (there’s actually no such HTML tag for “dofollow”, it’s just a regular href link without the nofollow attribute) on your blog comments or on your website, small site owners can begin allowing link authority to spread, thus fostering the free exchange of information on the web once again.
Are you using nofollow links? If you’ve got WordPress installed, you are, since WordPress (and some other blogging platforms) add nofollow tags to all comment links by default. This was done primarily to discourage spam commenting. The theory is that if your links are worthless to them, spammers won’t bother bombarding you with them. The problem is this discourages commenting in general, since, well, your links are worthless. You can use Semiologic’s Plugin to remove nofollow tags from your WordPress comments.
If you want to check out who’s using nofollow links on any web page, install Aaron Wall’s SEO plugin for Firefox. When enabled, it turns all the nofollow links on a web page to red so you can easily spot them.
So it’s official – all comments on my blog are now “dofollow” links!