Home > Archive > No-follow tag and link popularity
January 30, 2005
Tag and Link Popularity
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Much has been said lately about Google's
recent initiative to support the 'no-follow' tag
in an attempt to combat blog comment spam. Here's our
What is blog comment spam and how does it look like?
Leaving comments in blogs usually means filling up a form with four fields: one for
your name, one for your email address, one for your URL, and one for your comments.
Let's look at some of examples of spammy comments:
What you see is irrelevant copy (nice site!, etc.) and a keyword-stuffed link anchor
text, usually pointing to off-topic, high margin sites.
What Does the no-follow tag look like and what does it do?
Instead of linking to another site like this:
a link using the 'no-follow' tag will look like this:
<a href="http://www.anothersite.com" rel="nofollow">Another
When a search engine sees a 'no-follow' tag in an HTML link, it will not follow it, nor
assign link popularity to the destination page. Search engines are encouraging blog
software vendors and blog owners to use the 'no-follow' tag in blog comments and signature
links. The theory is that if search engines stop following those links, spammers
will stop posting.
Are spammers the only problem?
Unfortunately, no. Many websites have achieved high
Pagerank and search engine
rankings due mostly to links left by their webmasters in blog comments and signature link
sections. While those comments and signature links may very well be relevant to the
topic being discussed, their purpose, most of the time, is just to inflate the link
popularity of the website belonging to the person leaving the comments. Being link
popularity such an important component of good search engine rankings, this is clearly a
loophole that needed to be closed.
While some webloggers are complaining that Google is throwing away the baby with the
bathwater (punishing spammers and legitimate contributors alike), the truth is that
comments and signature links in blogs are intended to point readers to other websites,
resources or blog posts that may be of interest to them, and to foster a sense of
community. Their objective is not (and never was) to increase the link popularity of
weblog visitors' websites.
Will the nofollow tag be effective?
This measure may or may not stop comment spam. After all, humans can still see
and follow spammy links, so spammers may still see some value (albeit significantly
reduced) in continuing to post comments. What this measure will certainly do is to
make link popularity more difficult to achieve. It will force webmasters to work
harder and try other avenues to get links, for example, through directory listings, through syndication
of useful articles with a link to their sites in the resource box, or simply the old
fashioned way: by offering content so remarkable that other webmasters will feel
spontaneously compelled to link to: just what the search engines intended when they made
inbound links an important ingredient in their ranking calculations.
It is important to note that Google's 'no-follow' tag recommendation applies only to
comments and signature links, not to the original posts. Links made from original blog
posts will still be followed, indexed and weighted by the search engines.
You can freely reprint this article provided that you include the following resource
Mario Sanchez publishes The Internet Digest ( http://www.theinternetdigest.net
), a growing collection of Internet marketing articles, tips and resources, and SEO
Tutorial ( http://www.seotutorial.info ) , where
you can learn the basics of search engine optimization in four easy steps.
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