It amuses me when I read how bloggers talk about the anchor tag (that’s the link tag for those that don’t know) and the possible nofollow attribute that can be added, and when they say that you should always do one or the other. It doesn’t matter one lick to Google what you mark as nofollow or dofollow, it matters only to you and your site. Using the nofollow attribute conveys a message to Google’s indexing bot, that’s all.
If we go by what Google says about the nofollow attribute, we can assume that we are left to make the decision ourselves, and there is really nothing right or wrong about using the nofollow attribute.
Or is there?
If you are confused about nofollow and dofollow on links, start with the link above to learn from the horse’s mouth what Google has to say about the nofollow attribute. I’ll discuss it a bit here, and I assume you know how it’s implemented in an anchor tag, and then read on to learn how I think about all this nofollow business.
Quick round-up of what nofollow and dofollow is
All links are by default, DoFollow. You have to explicitly insert the rel=”nofollow” attribute into your links to provide this indication to Google indexing bots. Keep in mind though that a system like WordPress, Blogger and many others have taken it upon themselves to change all links into nofollow links, regardless of how you might create the link. That’s why plugins like the DoFollow plugin for WordPress are so popular; it changes those links back to dofollow links, giving you the opportunity to selectively choose which links will be dofollow or nofollow.
The default state of a link is dofollow though.
Think about that a little. If the default state of a link is dofollow, what do you think is mostly out there? That’s right, dofollow links. From the small mom and pop sites that have their techno, whiz-bang kid in the basement learning html and coding up a site that will help them bring in a little extra money through their homegrown ecommerce site, all the way to large scale systems in use by major corporations. You’ll find that many, many sites out there haven’t gone as far as many bloggers have in terms of this fine-tuning we are talking about here.
And it really is fine-tuning. To pay attention to each and every link on your site is likable by those with OCD, but not something high on the priority list of many sites out there.
The only person that cares about nofollow is you
The nofollow attribute tells Google that you are either unsure about the reputability of the destination you are linking to, or that you simply don’t want to pass along any of your page rank to the destination site. Think of it this way, when a site like Wikipedia, which I believe is a PR9 or 10, links to another site, it carries with it a bunch of weight with it. A site with that high of a PR is a valued resource for Google because of the trust that it has garnered over the years. Sites don’t get that high of a PR without being a credible source of information. So when a site like that links to another site, and Google indexes the page and finds the link without the nofollow attribute, some of the PR 9′s weight is going to tell Google that this destination site is credible and trustworthy. Google likes sites like that.
When you link to a site, you should consider if you’re going to vouch for the site or not. It’s why I’m such a stickler about the comments I receive from readers. Not everyone gets their comment approved, and it does actually pain me to see people not get their comment approved. I care, but I don’t care for giving questionable sites a valuable DoFollow link.
An easy way to think about this nofollow business
I liken this whole process to resume references. Given a reference from McDonald’s versus a reference from a Vice President from a fortune 500 company, which do you think will carry more weight when someone reviews your resume? Of course, the VP will always look better.
When Google’s bot visits a page to index it, it will look at each link on the page. If the link has the rel=”nofollow” attribute, then you can rest assured that Google will not follow through that link to its destination to index it as well. Well, it might, but none of your PR will be passed along to it.
It’s like the VP saying, “Umm, yeah, I heard he worked here…”, and that’s about it. The VP isn’t elaborating or giving a glowing review, just a simple confirmation that he’s aware of you.
On the other hand, if the link doesn’t provide the rel=”nofollow” attribute, then the VP is singing your praises and talking about all the at-a-boy’s he had to give you and giving Google the impression that you’re really one top-notch dude, er site.
Kinda makes me feel all warm and fuzzy thinking about it that way.
Simple rules that I follow
If I need to link to a site that I’m unsure about, I’ll add the nofollow attribute. Just like what the Webmaster tools page I linked to above states, if you have reservations about the credibility of the site you are linking to, it is probably best to not pass along any juice. After all, a link is like a vote for another site. You link to it, you are vouching for it, unless you include the rel=”nofollow” attribute.
Every link on my site is a dofollow link, which means I don’t add rel=”nofollow”, and I don’t allow WordPress to do so for me. For me, it’s easier to state which will be nofollow rather than which will not be dofollow simply due to the numbers. I rarely nofollow links here, but there are times when I feel I need to. For instance, affiliate links. They all get the nofollow attribute. Why? For the simple reason that I see no reason trying to promote a site to rise higher in Google ranking when it is I in fact that want to rank higher. In this case, if I rank higher than the affiliate destination page, I stand a better chance of making some money…whereas if the destination page was higher, I might not get as much love from my efforts. It’s a greedy thought for sure, and to be honest I don’t think it really makes much difference to me as I don’t promote affiliate stuff as much as others out there. It’s the principle of it really.
I moderate my comments heavily since I really don’t have any way to say “this comment is nofollow”, “this one is dofollow”. No, all comments by default are dofollow. So this leaves me with having to moderate my comments, which I don’t mind doing as I find it a rather enjoyable part of the whole blogging experience.
Resources for DoFollow blogs and sites
You might notice a few changes I’ve made to my comment form here. I’m now able to promote and instruct commentators on each element in my comment form, showing that I’m a DoFollow blog is one of those elements. I’ve written in a prior post a little about this nofollow business, and it is from Extreme John’s site that I grabbed a DoFollow image to show off that I’m a DoFollow blogger here on WayneJohn.com.
There are also a few sites that attempt to catalog each and every DoFollow blog, and you can submit your blog to them if you like. Other bloggers will use these sites to find blogs to comment on, since they know that the link will be a “good” link. Here are a few of them:
Those are the top three from Google search for “dofollow directory”. You can find more if you like in the search results for those terms.
Are you going to make changes to your site?
So, you might understand at this point that Google really doesn’t care if you are nofollow, or dofollow. The choice is up to you, and it’s only a tool to help provide some context to the Google bots when they come a crawlin’.
Are you thinking the same way I am here about nofollow and dofollow links? Do you have any feelings either way regarding your site or blog? Bring it up below, and know that when you comment, your link is going to be a dofollow link.
That’s just how I roll a yo-yo. (I think I lose street cred each time I say it that way…oh well.)
Wayne John is a health coach for people that want to lose weight, gain weight, improve athletic performance, or simply maintain a healthy lifestyle. Wayne has lost over 55 pounds and improves his current health every day by using simple, straight-forward techniques that anyone can integrate into their lives to achieve the same. Contact Wayne today to realize your own health and fitness goals, or get started now by completing and submitting the free Wellness Profile. He also has been developing websites since 1995 and programming solutions for clients even longer. He'd rather be outside having fun in the sun though.