Until this post, I have not shared my view on the “nofollow” attribute. It is my belief that using the nofollow with the purpose of controlling the flow of links or link juice is a gigantic red flag in the eyes of the engines.
Who Knows About nofollow?
Let’s start here with the audience who actually knows about this little attribute. Ask the random small business owner about it. Next, ask friends and family who don’t run any web sites, but still use the ‘net on a daily basis. Then, ask an SEO about it.
I’m willing to bet that the only person to know about the nofollow is involved in SEO.
This represents a fundamental flaw with the use of the nofollow. In order to use it, you need to make the effort to code it into the HTML. Once you’ve done that, you might as well alert the engines that you not only aware of optimization, but you’re willing to go out of your way to protect your site.
But, Links Are Needed!
Yeah, I get that. Anyone involved in SEO should realize that links are a major component to the equation. Big deal!
What I do not understand though is the warped perspective that makes some believe nofollows to be an asset to their site’s stature in the engines. Using a nofollow alerts the engines to the fact that you are trying to keep your tail covered.
We already know that (public) PageRank is some sort of mythical measurement that monitors the value of a page. If those little green toolbar values are nothing more than eye-candy, why should we care about whether or not it’s being passed on to others?
I know there’s some real measurement of links attributed to a page… But I’m also not naive enough to believe that Google (and other engines using similar stats) would ever make that data available to the public.
nofollows Raise Curiosity
If you and I were having a long conversation, and I kept referring to something I had tucked away in a brown paper bag that I’m carrying, you’d be interested — right? Of course! You’d even want to see what’s inside the bag too I bet, especially if I opened it up right under your nose.
Being nice, I’d let you see what was inside the bag — and then immediately require you to forget how or why you ever saw it.
That entire situation would be nothing but nonsense. There is no way you could ever forget how or where you came across whatever it was that was inside that bag. You wouldn’t let yourself forget it — and you know you’d always remember me when you thought back to what was in there.
This is what a nofollow is like for the engines. Links are intended to be contextual. Why then do we limit our ability to reason and just assume that the engines see a nofollow and forget all references between two linked pieces of content?
What’s Your Take?
Call me a conspiracy theorist if you’d like, but I’m more interested in having a strong discussion on this. Have an opposing view? Please, do post it below in the comments area.