13 Reasons Why NoFollow Tags Suck

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13 Reasons Why NoFollow Tags Suck

The NoFollow link attribute (rel=”nofollow”) was originally created to block search engines from following links in blog comments, due to the amount of blog comment spamming.

The theory is that if spammers are spamming in blog comments to get better SEO and anchored links for their sites, NoFollow would render such spam useless. Problem is, spammers still spam.

Now, NoFollow has been adopted beyond blog comments. Wikipedia is now using NoFollow for external links and Google recommends that paid links use a NoFollow attribute.

Here are 13 reasons why NoFollow is a failure.

1. NoFollow = NoWorky. Using NoFollow in blog comments, the original intent of the tag, does nothing to discourage comment spammers. Using other anti-spamming tools such as question, math and plugins such as Akismet and SpamKarma for WordPress is much more effective.

2. If a blogger moderates comments, there is no need for a NoFollow attribute. “Everyone who passes a human inspection should get the link love.”

3. Since the use of NoFollow in comments on WordPress blogs is default, many bloggers do not even realize they are using NoFollow.

4. NoFollow=NoValue. Why use NoFollow on sites, text ads, and blogs if there is no value in terms of search engine indexing? What if they made the Yahoo! directory nofollow? Would anyone continue to purchase listings? Obviously the value of that directory would be zero of nofollow tags were applied to the listings.

5. Linking to someone with a NoFollow attribute is a sign of not trusting them. It’s like reaching to shake someone’s hand, but stopping to put on a pair of latex gloves.

6. No Follow sucks because the search engines (particularly Google) can’t make up their mind about when and how it should be used, thus causing confusion among inexperienced webmasters who do STUPID things like No Follow ALL outgoing links from their website to “protect the site from page rank leakage” and other silly ideas.

7. No-follow is a poor search engine’s solution to conceal its own failure to rank websites appropriately. What’s next, No-linking?

Search engines should be able to develop a method of identifying and devaluing links to spam sites which were placed in blog comments. Why should everyone who posts in blog comments suffer from the actions of a greedy few spammers.

8. Commenting on a blog post is the same as adding more relevant to that blog post. A thought provoking one sentence post can lead to pages of comments. If someone takes the time to help build your site’s content via posting comments, it is professional courtesy to give them some link love.

9. Putting NoFollow on Wikipedia is like putting Grey Poupon on a Spam sandwich.(Or like putting perfume on a pig.)

Taking Wikipedia to task over nofollow is fun but ultimately you need to take them to task for why they implemented nofollow in the first place – that is, to prevent spam. Which in turn means that the way Wikipedia was setup was flawed because it opened itself up to easy spamming.

Therefore, instead of just letting Wikipedia take the easy way out (because ultimately it’s an important resource for many people and replacing it would be tough), they should look at ways into changing their systems so they are not as open to spamming any more.

10. Text link advertisements which use a NoFollow make no sense. If you want to spread your Google juice, why use a link-condom?

11. Even WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg says NoFollow was a failure; “In theory this 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.”

12. Search Engines follow NoFollow. Yahoo has been known to count NoFollow links as backlinks in SiteExplorer. So, if you’re goal in comment spamming to to build backlinks, which builds your site’s value in terms of selling advertising (TLA, ReviewMe, SEOmoz’s PageStrength and other metrics programs use Yahoo Backlinks as valued criteria), NoFollow is useless.

13. NoFollow Sucks. Check It!

What are your thoughts on NoFollow? Do you support the use of NoFollow in Wikipedia or as a way to identify paid links?

Have more reasons why NoFollow is a failure? Please feel free to share them below.

[Thanks to Carsten, Greg, Ahmed, Dave, Everett, Gemme, and John for contributing. You’ve all been NoFollow’d!]

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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