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What is rel=nofollow, and Should I Use It?

Posted 2009-06-09 in SEO

Scriptalicious Blog

The nofollow tag (as it’s commonly referred to), is an HTML attribute proposed by Matt Cutts of Google and Jason Shellen of Blogger.com in 2005. It is a recommendation on behalf of search engines to add a special identifier to links that shouldn’t be counted towards search results. For instance, unmoderated blog comments might be a candidate for nofollow attribute.

An example link using the nofollow attribute:

<a href="http://scriptalicious.com/" rel="nofollow">

Whether to use the nofollow tag or not is a personal decision. Google recommends it, yet lots of people disagree with it. Adding the nofollow attribute to your outgoing blog comment links, paid links, and any other unmoderated links is going to help keep your nose clean with Google. However if you disagree with the recommendation, as I do, there is certainly no requirement to use the attribute.

Search engines such as Google push for website owners to add the nofollow tag to paid/sponsored links, in an effort to thwart search engine ranking manipulation. Several shortcomings of the approach, in addition to search engine leaders’ huge stake in online advertising, have not been received wholeheartedly by the Webmaster community.

Despite the response, Google in particular is of great concern to professional SEOs and webmasters with search engine rankings on the line. Advertisers equally need to decide if nofollow links are worth buying any more. The nature of the market sets up the honest website owners to be damaged the most. The Internet is still very much the “Wild West”, and without any kind of accountability online, people will simply find new ways to get around the tag. As the criteria for a quality link tightens up, webmasters get more sophisticated, and the line between SPAM and “real” websites continues to blur.




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