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follow or nofollow? SEO Dilemma of Linking

follow or nofollow? SEO Dilemma of Linking

While every one around the SEO corner is busy hoarding the page rank of their site using nofollow attribute in quest to rank the important pages of a website, I am quite sure this practice (page rank sculpting) is just an accident waiting to happen as webmasters will abuse it up to an extent that Google will do what they have done to ‘keyword meta tag’ – start ignoring it.

After the public announcements and claims done by Rand Fishkin, Stephen Spencer, Danny Sullivan and even Matt Cutts, that directing the link juice to the important pages of a website improves the Search Engine Ranking of a website, the SEO community is using nofollow on anything they don’t want to rank for, claiming it a ‘wastage of link juice’ otherwise. But I personally believe that this nofollow practice is taking the SEO community no where, as webmasters have a license to get away to rank their websites even with a poor internal navigation and hence poor user experience.

So obviously the nofollow era is facilitating more spammy websites making it to the top of the Search Engine lists. It’s just matter of time, when Google will take an evasive action.

If we have a look at the origin of a nofollow attribute, we find that nofollow attribute was made with the primary motto to combat comment spam (which it has failed miserably as comment spammers are still employed). Further Google found that nofollow can also help Google bots to firstly determine the most important pages out of huge websites with complex blog categories in little time and secondly the webmasters could use nofollow while linking to some website content which they don’t want to get associated with and vote to. Here is a recent precise statement made by Matt Cutts on use of nofollow attribute:

“The nofollow attribute is just a mechanism that gives webmasters the ability to modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity. Plenty of other mechanisms would also work (e.g. a link through a page that is robot.txt’ed out), but nofollow on individual links is simpler for some folks to use. There’s no stigma to using nofollow, even on your own internal links; for Google, nofollow’ed links are dropped out of our link graph; we don’t even use such links for discovery. By the way, the nofollow meta tag does that same thing, but at a page level.”

Now getting back to my anti-nofollow visionary, the nofollow tags also facilitate a fake information architecture. As we know Google ranks the sites with solid internal navigational architecture higher on SERP as these are the sites which provide rich user experience to the Google users as the important content is just 3 clicks away, nofollow isn’t helping to their cause. Coz what most webmasters are doing at the moment is hoarding the page rank and shooting it on the targeted pages even when the target page is nothing but pure crap and weakly linked from other pages of the site.

Having said that, please don’t take me wrong, as I am not questioning the effectiveness of page rank sculpting, because it’s working great at the moment, but I am not too sure how long will this nofollow rampage last: I am afraid not too long. So I have a simple advise to give – use nofollow but only after you have crystallized your internal navigation and don’t rely 100% on this nofollow ploy as you might soon see Google derank the websites with weak internal structure indulging in page rank sculpting.


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