Google’s Insidious “Nofollow”

At the beginning of the year, Google unveiled a proposal to help combat blog spam. The idea was to label all links that spammers could have inserted with rel="nofollow" which would instruct search engines to not use the link to boost the site’s rank. The problem is that links in comments which could have been inserted by spammers could also be valid links by valid commenters. These valid links would no longer get ranking. Not only has rel="nofollow" failed to prevent blog spam, Michael Hampton argues that it is an insidious move by Google to decrease blogs’ rankings in search results.

If your blog software inserts nofollow, then in order for you to give another blog Google juice, you have to go out of your way to link to them without nofollow, such as in your blogroll. It is no longer enough that your reader left an insightful comment or a trackback to his blog with more information. Now, as far as Google juice is concerned, it is as if all of your readers were never there and you had received no comments or trackbacks at all.

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As we’ve seen, rel=”nofollow” is Google’s way of having bloggers effectively delist themselves from search engines under the guise of protecting them from comment spam. If you want your site to have more Google juice, and who doesn’t, people have to link to you without rel=”nofollow”. It’s that simple. Nofollow hurts the entire blogosphere, and if carried to its extreme, will result in most blogs being relegated to obscurity as they drop out of the top 100 search engine results.

IO Error: Nofollow Revisited

Go read the whole thing. There are some really good quotes there, including some from an interview with a comment spammer. If you have a WordPress blog and want to disable nofollow, try out my Screw Nofollow! plugin. Unlike other nofollow plugins, this one doesn’t play around… it’s a two-line script that kills nofollow dead, right away. Eh, why reinvent the wheel? I hadn’t seen Dennis’ plugin before now, but his does the job perfectly. The other plugins I’d seen would let rel="nofollow" stay for a few days, but Dennis’ plugin kills them instantly.

Comments

  1. says

    Meh, I’m not convinced that Google had bad intentions here. It is not that hard to give another blog credit in your post, thus avoiding the “no follow” link method.

    As for it lowering Page Rank…my page rank has only gone up since this started being used.

    There sure seems to be a lot of Google-bashing going on lately. I wonder if Google has become to mainstream for many of the internet elite.

  2. says

    Denis, it looks to me like the third filter is unnecessary. You don’t need to strip it out of the comment going into the database if you’re stripping it out of the comment content as the comment is displayed. Or am I reading that code incorrectly? Anyway, I don’t see any nofollow links in my comments.

  3. says

    I think I left mine to leave the nofollows in the comment’s body. But I left them alone for where commentors put in their website address. Once seemed enough and it might help discourage the spammers.

  4. says

    I’m in general against nofollow but I think it will also help bloggers who don’t know how to fight comment spam any other way. Another side benefit to bloggers is that they can use the tag selectively to keep certain links they use from getting pagerank.

  5. says

    I’m not sure if it’s the nofollow or my MT 3.16 upgrade or a new version of MT-Blacklist. Or the fact that I moderate old entries (they can still post it just goes to moderation if that entry hasn’t been active for x number of days. But if someone posts to an old one and I approve it, it’s not considered active for y number of days this is a very powerful MT-Blacklist function.

  6. says

    Spammers have said outright that they don’t care about nofollow. Think: why would they want to get their Google Pagerank up? So they have higher prominence and get more clicks. Well, nofollow or not, links on blogs are still links. That’s the entire “model” for e-mail spam. Get people to click on the links. So nofollow or not, they’re going to keep spamming.

    Gary, moderating old entries has been very effective for some people. Many bots will “scrape” your site and then come back weeks or many months later and deliver a payload.

    Agenzie, it’s only helpful if is has a demonstrable benefit. The first person to show that spam on blogs has decreased as a direct result of nofollow will get my full attention… but I’m not going to be on the edge of my seat on this one.

  7. says

    why would they want to get their Google Pagerank up? So they have higher prominence and get more clicks. Well, nofollow or not, links on blogs are still links. That’s the entire “model” for e-mail spam. Get people to click on the links. So nofollow or not, they’re going to keep spamming.

    True, but nobody is claiming that the no follow links by themselves will stop spam by itself. Its just supposed to remove some of the incentive for doing it.

  8. says

    Their incentive is still clicks. Clicks via Google or clicks via e-mail and millions of blogs are still clicks. Google may be a great way to drive clicks, but if Google is no longer a viable option for them, they’re not just going to give up. I’ve certainly not seen spam attempts decrease since the beginning of the year. And don’t forget that nofollow is harmful to blog ranking in search engines. Part of the reason that blogs are ranked so high is because they all link to each other. Every comment with an author site link is a Pagerank transaction. Eliminating these will cause blogs to drop.

    Even if nofollow could reduce spam by 25%, it wouldn’t be worth it for the hit that blogs would get on search engines.

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  11. says

    I don’t believe in rel=”nofollow” either. It doesn’t reduce the spam. The only thing that reduces spam is a good spam filter.

  12. says

    I just found out about the “nofollow” today. Anyway, it looks like I’m a little late to the game, but it doesn’t seem to make sense to me. It looks like Google is looking for a short cut in order to regulate thier search engine rankings. This would create less work for them while it hurts the blogging community. I think this sucks.

Trackbacks

  1. Nofollow revisited

    It’s been about four months now since Google introduced nofollow to the web. Since then it’s been adopted by every major blogging platform, as well as many other wiki, forum and CMS platforms. Now that nofollow is everywhere, it’s ti…

  2. Sechs Monate danach ist von der Aufregung nichts mehr zu spüren. Erfahrungen im Umgang mit »nofollow« wurden gemacht. Selten kann man nur noch über »nofollow« etwas lesen. Nofollow revisited, Google´s Insidious ‘Nofollow’ und Nofollow considered harmless sind die beiden wichtigsten persönlichen Statements zu diesem Thema. Google verzeichnet 1.320.000 Treffer bei der weitweiten Suchanfrage nach nofollow. Ganze 54.200

  3. [...] Bad Behavior, to keep bandwidth wasting, email harvesting, and spam posting bots out of this site. Permalink Redirect, to ensure that redirected permalinks (those entered without a trailing slash) return a 301 permanent redirect message. Screw Nofollow, to disable the rel=nofollow attribute in the comments area. Search Hilite, to highlight search terms when visiting from any popular search engine. Search Pages, to allow pages to be searched as well as posts. Spam Nuker, to manage spam deleted by WordPress’ default anti-spam tools. Translator, to present MacManX.com in 9 different languages (including English). WP-ContactForm, to provide a contact form and hide my email address from spam bots. [...]

  4. nofollow – 6 Monate danach

    Im Januar 2005 sollte ein neues HTML-Attribut das Internet revolutionieren und Spam-frei machen. Google verkündete seine strategische Allianz mit Blog-Herstellern und Suchmachinen-Konkurrenten gegen Spamer. Was hat nun »nofollow« nach…

  5. [...] For Movable Type, simply disable and remove the nofollow plugin. For WordPress, install the NoNofollow plugin and set the number of days to 0 (zero). Update: Mark Jaquith has posted his Screw Nofollow plugin for WordPress which is smaller and less complicated. [...]

  6. [...] Mount… – Invision Power Serviceshttp://forums.invisionpower.com/index.php?showtopic=234053 Google’s Insidious “Nofollow” [ Tempus Fugit | TxFx.net ]http://txfx.net/2005/05/23/googles-insidious-nofollow/ The NoFollow Failure, NoFollow = NoBias [...]