Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nofollow links

Inbound links are very important for the success of a web page. Google considers those inbound links to calculate the web page's pagerank. The more inbound link a page has got, it means higher authority is assigned to that page and the page appears higher in the search results. The higher the page gets into search result, the more chance it has got for user visiting it. 

Earlier for Google, pagerank was a very important criteria to decide the location of page in a search result. Though with time Google has been moving out of it and it is one of the signal among more
than 200+ signals that Google evaluates to decide the location of the page in the search result. In spite of this, still pagerank is one of the important criteria in the scheme of things.

A whole industry sprung up around this pagerank business, when Google became popular in the beginning of 2000. For page rank, people start planting their links in all possible ways on popular web sites, which included both good and bad ways. The special targets were comment section an forums. Bots were run to fill the legitimate pages with spammy links to achieve better page rank.

It was matter of time when Google noticed it. Google realised that the inbound links were getting filled with spam. To stop that in 2005 they introduce the concept of nofollow attribute.

nofollow Attribute

Whenever a site puts a link to another site, the link is displayed as

<a href="">Follow</a>

By default this becomes a follow link and if this link is put in a page, it will result in the page linking to it passing it's link juice or pagerank. So if a high pagerank page provides a link with no nofollow attribute, the linked page will get a share of the high pagerank.

If the site does not wants to pass the juice the the linked site, the link can be change as

<a href="" rel="nofollow">No Follow</a>

This results in the page providing the link not passing any share of pagerank.

If you want the page to not to pass pagerank to any of the linked content, this can be provided in meta tag

 <meta name="robots" content="nofollow" />

How to find if link has nofollow attribute

To check if the link put in a page has a nofollow attribute, right click on the browser and click on "View Page Source". Similar functionality exists in all browser. This shows the html of the page. Search for the link anchor tag in the page and see if it has rel attribute or not. For example in wiki page of Google Search, the link to Google is provided as nofollow

<a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">Official website</a>

Places where nofollow is required
  • Spammy content - If you link to a page which is spammy than you do not want to link them to you. Google sees it a big negative when your outbound links are connecting to spams. It's quite common for spammers to fill the comment section or forums with spammy links. You can either curate them manually to ensure that only good outbound links are existing on your page or you can by default out rel="nofollow" on the anchor tags by default. I would say still to curate it manually and keep only those comments which are relevant and genuine. Too much unrelated content in comment can spoil your keywords distribution also. Moreover when some genuine reader reads your post, they also want to read relevant comments and not junk and spam. So keep your place clean. Remember Google crawls your page as a bot and it cannot make those semantic judgements about post and comment section.
  • Paid links: Any advertisements or promotions should be linked as nofollow. Google does not wants it's search quality to be impacted by such links. These links are put not to enhance content but to earn money.
  • Pages relevant for Humans: Pages like registration and login are only useful for human users. Bots cannot register themselves. If they can do in your site, than believe me you are in trouble as there are bots who will register and post the spam. So put links of those pages with nofollow attribute.
  • Pages which are authenticated: Pages which can only be reached by putting some sort of credentials should also be put as nofollow. If search bots try to access those pages they will get non authorized error. It's a good discipline and saves search bots from looking for pages which cannot be accessed.It's about providing good experience to bots. 

Should I not comment on forums and other posts

You should comment on forums and other posts as this helps in building community. Look it from the perspective of building a discussion. If it requires to post a link to one of your page do it but if it's helping in discussion. Even if it has a nofollow attribute, if the quality of comment is relevant, search bots may not follow but people will follow that link and it helps in traffic.

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