Don't Listen to Them. The Nofollow Has Value.

Google came out with their nofollow statement two months ago. Looking back on this statement, I wanted to throw some ideas out there on why I am still looking into quality sites that have nofollow links and the results we have seen in removing nofollow tags.

Why go after quality sites with nofollow links?

For starters, this does not mean dropping comments in blog comments, high quality site or not. Engines certainly have the ability to identify comments through page segmentation and generally don't believe this to be a good use of anyone's time. Also, these are links that are completely out of control, to some extent, and out of context from the original intent of the writer.

Wikipedia is a good example. Many of us have edited articles that are dear to use (updating the Mets 2009 injury plagued season has been a highlight for me) and many of us have tried to add links. Some links I thought were relevant have been removed within 5 minutes. This is a good thing. Human editors that pay close attention to pages is valuable. Spammers need not post a junk link as it'll get zapped. How does an engine not take this level of monitoring into consideration?

Human editing + a respected resource like wikipedia = something the engines will take into account. nofollow links are tracked by Google. These have appeared a number of times in webmaster tools. Google knows the links that are on Wiki even if it doesn't follow through to those pages. I can't believe that a link on wikipedia is not a value added link. Linkjuice may not pass, but having a lasting link on big W or any other credible source that is human edited & still nofollowed is something I will spend the few minutes to get. Google knows it's there.

Should I remove the nofollow tag?

I've tested removing a few nofollow tags from a site, I've had a site remove them entirely from the dropdowns. This hasn't made any reportable impact on rankings for those pages or the rest of the site. If you want to remove some, go ahead.

Why did Google come out with the nofollow statement?

Lets review:

1. Google is greedy (for indexing pages) 2. Pagescultping prevented engines from accessing pages 3. Google releases news that the nofollow, in short, absorbs value that could be passed to other pages 4. New sites no longer implement pagesculpting 5. In a perfect world, existing sites remove the nofollows & Google indexes millions of pages

The contact us, about us, privacy policy, shipping instructions pages, usually nofollowed, contain addresses, phone numbers & other data that will help engines identify geographical information about the website. These most likely have no inbound links and if there's no sitemap.xml loading these into WMTools, Google doesn't index this information. Opening up this data can only help Google to make a better decision on what to show.

There are plenty of do-follow linking opportunities available if you search the right places and ask clients the right questions. Don't believe that SEER focuses a large amount of time chasing down nofollows, but there are some we believe carry some type of value, even if they're not passing linkjuice. All in all, don't shun a quality site where you can gain a relevant link just because it's a nofollow.

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Adam Melson
Adam Melson
Assoc. Director, Business Strategy