Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The NOFOLLOW tag and blogging

In my investigations on the differences between the WordPress platform and Google Blogger I was initially disappointed that a NOFOLLOW attribute was not offered when a link was added to a blog post.

It had been my suspicion that the attribute had been added automatically to hyperlinks that visitors had added to comments on Blogger. I had not checked this but I have on posts that I had made on WordPress. I now find that this is common practice in the case of blogging software. In fact the practice is rife with the large sites and it has been a source of criticism by the "community". I can see the naysayers point of view as this is not well understood by the small website owner or the blogger.

I think that is a case of "Do as you would want to be done by". In that if you link to a website you should be treated in the same way as if they link to you. By adding the NOFOLLOW attribute large sites were getting inbound links from the unwary were they were not giving the same in return. I have adopted the stance that I will not give a site that I link to unless I have a link back to me. As I have no way of determining this I place a NOFOLLOW attribute on ALL my hyperlinks.

When I was placing links on my website I either put them in an area where the search engines were banned or I just placed a link to a "links" page that stated that I had the links and if you wanted them you would have to write and ask for them. Thanks to Google Blogger I discovered NOFOLLOW.

Hard-coding the HTML it is a fairly easy task to add this attribute, as it is will Blogger. WordPress is somewhat more difficult but not impossible. The reasons for Google adding this to the Blogger platform is somewhat different as it was a made a requirement that if you had Adsense on your blog you would be penalized unless you used the attribute. I guess this was so that you didn't have 2 outbound links to the same website on your blog, one that they benefited from and the other you do - the net effect was that the one you had cancelled out the one that they placed in the Adsense ad.

A Google Adsense ad is a "Paid" link.

To add the NOFOLLOW attribute to a WordPress post or page you need to install a plugin and use "shortcode". While this is a little cumbersome, I am sure that it is worth it in the fact that ranking is not degraded as a consequence. In fact, I learn't about [shortcodes] and WP.

The syntax that you have to use in WP is better off documented here as the Nofollow plugin by bitacre will expand the shortcode to the required hyperlink syntax.

[nofollow href=""] Site wanted to be not followed [/nofollow]

The text in red needs to be replaced by the site you want to link but not give ranking credit. In WP you can see the {shortcode] when the post is edited and it appears as a normal link in the post.

I checked this by looking at the source code of the webpage when I had the plugin active and when I did not. I also checked that hyperlinks placed in comments have the NOFOLLOW set by default.

There are many versions of this plugin - I only tried the one from bitacre. The Bitacre website is also an example of a website built using WordPress. They do have an error on the post relating to Nofollow.

I have an examples of this on my WordPress blog and I will continue to use this technique for all outbound links.

How does nofollow work with the Social Graph API (rel="nofollow me")?

Google also add some "get out of jail free" advice. This is to allow their social networking scheme to work. If you want to a person to link to you in your profile and want to link to them, they have added an extra "me" microformat to the nofollow attribute.

With rel="me nofollow", Google will continue to treat the rel="nofollow" as expected for search purposes, such as not transferring PageRank. However, for the Social Graph API, we will count the rel="me" link even when included with a nofollow.

To me this is an admission that they are really concerned about the ranking behavoiur of the Googlebot algorithm.

The added proviso that if you can verify ownership of the link than you can remove the nofollow. I am left wondering whether the users of Google Social Apps are even aware of the nofollow.

If you are able to verify ownership of a link using an identity technology such as OpenID or OAuth, however, you may choose to remove the nofollow link.

You can read exactly what Google say about this in the link above.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In addition to the current speculation on how Google handles the rel="nofollow" attribute, my concern is that it could also be used to depreciate the value of links to websites where it is used.

The "clamp-down" on those that think that they can promote themselves in this way is only likely to get escalated.