Feb 15, 2008 115 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Will Using A NoFollow Attribute Raise Google

Is it true that if you use a nofollow attribute on many of your links, it would raise a red flag at Google in additions to other search engines?

Recently, the viewpoint that using the nofollow with the purpose of controlling the flow of links or link juice is a big red flag in the eyes of the search engines has been expressed by Eric Lander, while some still believe that it doesn't.

The contention being expressed is that the if you ask about "nofollow" from people around you such as anyone in your friends or family or even business owners who use the Internet for their businesses, they are unlikely to know about it in detail. The only people who would have a clear idea about it are SEOs making a living out of search engine optimization.

Consequently, this appears to be a "fundamental flaw" with the usage of "nofollow." This is so because if you want to use it, you need to make the effort to code it into the HTML. Furthermore, once you do that in all probability it alerts the engines that you are not only aware of SEO, but also have gone out of your way to protect your site.

Next, the question arises about the need for the links. This is certainly true for SEO that links are invaluable for the purpose. However, there seems to be a perspective whereby, some are of the opinion, that a "nofollow" is an asset to a site's stature in the search engines. This belief exists despite the fact that nofollows alert the engines that you are making an effort to "keep your tail covered."

Apparently, the publicly viewable PageRank, (those tiny green bars) is better believed to be "mythical measurements" to display the value of a page. Hence, it doesn't seem to be very rational to worry too much about whether or not it's being passed on to others.

While there is no denying the fact that there are indeed some actual measurements of the links which are attributed to a page, but its hardly a quiz that the big search engines would ever let that data be made available to public.

So, what is so different about "nofollows," which is most likely to raise curiosity in eyes of engines about the websites that make use of them. It's like a scenario of a conversation between two people, wherein one keeps talking about something he had hidden in a brown paper bag with him, naturally it would raise curiosity in the other person. And so much so that he would want to take a peek in it. So if out of courtesy the person is shown the contents of the bag and then expected to forget about it, is something that's simply not possible. Whenever, the other person would think about the contents of the bag he would obviously be reminded of the first person.

Similar is the case with "nofollows" and search engines. How can the engines forget them? Whatever links exist on your site are supposed to be contextual. So why should people put a to limit their ability to reason and think that when engines see a nofollow, they would forget all references between any two linked pieces of content.

But the big question still remains, that if you make use of NoFollow for internal navigation and outbound linking would it make search engine spam teams, to extensively investigate your internal practices?

Apparently, not everyone agrees to the issue raised, "Nofollow is a tool to be used like any other," and not about using "click here" as the anchor text because that's how someone else does it, suggests Matt Maghee. While it's true that nofollow being a tool offers functionality to be cashed in during certain circumstances, but not simply because its good to do so.

Similarly it is also true that spam is followed, there are still numerous other things happening for the spam teams to spend their time on, rather than the nofollow.

Moreover, the suggestion that nofollow is going to raise a red flag when you have lots of sites sites doing it, and some are doing it without even realizing, seems unlikely. When websites such as CMS / blog software puts it in place or When Matt Cutts tells people make use of it to use it for reasons not limited to the purpose of paid link reporting only, it is hard to imagine that it raises eyebrows, feels Danny Sullivan.

But this also brings us to another point to ponder about, that the intended use of "nofollows" was to prevent spam, hence if someone uses nofollow as a way to funnel link juice, rather than to stop blog spam, it could very well come under the scanner.

Furthermore, sometimes the white hats could be forced to make use of it in ways its not intended to be, because they "want to see their own methodologies be the most successful ones."

But still others don't really think that it makes heads turn, if you use a "nofollow." Earlier there used to be a consensus about the fact that all those who made use of the "noarchive" tags were considered the odd ones out and then were manually reviewed based on usage of the "noarchive tag," but not in this case. At the same time, the possibility of being manually reviewed if you make use of a Google provided tag or attribute, can't be completely ruled out. Consider a case wherein in close to a 100% of your links make use of the tag, this fact could itself make it stand out a bit too much, thinks Barry.

The discussion continues at Sphinn.

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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