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The Decline Of Nofollow



October 12th, 2008 21:37 pm | by Ed |

Some time back, in an effort to take some of the value out of comment spam and link spam, Google and then other search engines implemented rel="nofollow". Specifically they said that any link with that attribute would not be followed as their spiders crawled the net.

Now I'm beginning to think that the bright spring promise of the value of rel="nofollow" has not only burned past it's summer and autumn, and headlong into winter so far that you can smell snowmobile exhaust on it.

I'm saying this because of some interesting experimental results that I saw on MasterLink Internet Marketing this morning.

There the interesting tale is told of a posting with a very specific keyword linked in the comment section of a blog on which the links were all treated with rel="nofollow". The idea is that if rel="nofollow" worked the way Google & Co. say it will, then the following three statements would be true for the link:

Google (and any others claiming to honor rel="nofollow") would NOT follow the link to the page it linked to.

They would NOT count that link in calculating PageRank link popularity scores for the page it linked to.

Finally they would NOT count the anchor text in determining what terms the page being linked to is relevant for.

According to the results of their little test, The page in question did in fact rank in Google for the keywords used. It's looking very much like the ONLY thing rel="nofollow" is good for is helping Google decide not to pass pagerank by way of links that contain rel="nofollow".

And of course, there's the little detail that the whole rel="nofollow" thing is a mis-use of the "rel=" attribute of the anchor tag. Here's what htmldog.com says about it.

rel can be used to specify the relationship of the target of the link to the current page.

Therefore, "nofollow" is not and cannot ever be a valid value for rel.

I think that, just for the heck of it, I'm going to conduct an experiment of my own. I'll publish the results here when it's done.

Technorati Tags: spider, link experiment, pagerank, comment spam, experiment, link spam, google, pass pagerank, nofollow

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