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Back in 2005, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft created the “nofollow” tag to fight blog comment spamming, which started when SEO specialists took advantage of the fact that search engines recognize links as “votes”. This move has changed the way SEO specialists understand link building, and helped them align linking strategies with the guidelines of search engines, particularly Google.
While the reason for the creation of nofollow tags is clear, many website owners and webmasters still have no idea why they need these attributes and when to use them.
As an Internet marketing company that focuses on helping business owners see the relationship between SEO and online success, RefractROI understand the concerns surrounding the issue. We want to make things clear once and for all, so you will learn the benefits of “follow” and “nofollow” links.
Let’s start with a brief history.
Before the spamming, SEO specialists used links to boost their sites’ authority, therefore increasing their rankings on the SERPs. When you link to another page or website, Google thinks you’re giving your “vote” to that page or site. That’s how Google PageRank works – it determines how authoritative a site is by looking at the number of inbound links it has, among other factors. A page becomes more popular and is more likely to rank high on search results if it gets more links or votes from other websites.
There was no problem at all until SEO specialists found a way to abuse the linking scheme. Because SEO back then was a game of numbers, spammers began dropping links on websites’ comments sections. They used those links to outrank competitors and gain more traffic. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft took notice, hence the creation of nofollow tags. Webmasters implement this by adding rel=”nofollow” to the HTML code.
You can implement the follow tag by adding rel=”dofollow” to the link code or by leaving the original code as is. Google treats this as a vote to the landing page or website. This automatically boosts the authority of the page you’re linking to, but it costs your own site a vote. Simply put, you share authority with the sites you link to.
Why follow? SEO experts would agree that do follow links are beneficial to your site, as long as you link to authoritative websites or to the content that is relevant to your niche. Let’s put it this way: the value you add to your reader, along with the deals you close because of the positive experience you provide, are worth the vote you share with popular websites. Simple as that.
The main purpose of a nofollow tag is to prevent links in blog comments from passing credit and help site owners gain control over their link building strategy. Adding this attribute allows webmasters to avoid throwing away votes by preventing spammers from flooding their blog comments section with numerous links. Google led the campaign against comment spamming to help users find the right information they’re looking for on the Web.
Smart use of nofollow tags is key to maximizing the benefits. In paid links, for instance, you can use this attribute to keep the links people buy on your site from passing credit. This way, you can avoid being penalized by Google.
Link drops are among the problems encountered by websites that allow people to post comments. Adding nofollow tags to the links that other people create helps keep bad sites from getting credit from you. To give you a clearer picture, the links within comments should get the rel=”nofollow” attribute.
Do you allow anyone to contribute content to your site? When contributors provide links to other sites, Google might think you’re endorsing those sites. What if the landing sites are bad sites or have a bad reputation? Bad links spell trouble. Adding the nofollow attribute is a way to tell Google not to count a link as a vote and that you’re not vouching for links to bad sites. It allows you to instruct robots not to crawl a specific link.
While all these guidelines in implementing nofollow and follow links are no doubt helpful, a true SEO expert must take these with a grain of salt. After all, SEO is an opinion game. Whether to use these attributes or not depends on your understanding and judgment on the site you’re optimizing. RefractROI, a leader in search engine optimization in Denver, is here to guide you on the right track and help you make the right decisions regarding your Internet marketing campaigns.