I have a question about the No Follow tip. Can you explain why you would not want a search engine to follow a link, and what types of links you would use that on?
Though I gave a brief answer in the comments section of that post, pointing out that nofollowing links is mostly for Search Engine Optimization purposes, I’d like to expand on the topic a bit more and provide examples of where and why we nofollow certain links.
What is NoFollow?
According to wikipedia:
is an HTML attribute value used to instruct some search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index. It is intended to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results and preventing spamdexing from occurring.
As many of you know, the number of links and where they’re coming from is a part of the ranking formula for most search engines. Though recently Google has given more of a focus to brands, the evidence suggests that quality links (from trusted web-sites) still plays a large role in determining where a site is listed in a search result. The NoFollow attribute is still used to fight spam but has expanded to become a part of SEO strategy.
When to Use NoFollow
When you do not want to pass link power to a website you should use the NoFollow attribute to inform search engines that your link is not to be used for the purposes of ranking. Though it was implemented to prevent spam comments from building ranking power by placing their links all over the web, what it really comes down to is do you want to help the site you’re linking to.
For instance, I NoFollowed the link to the wikipedia article on NoFollow, not because I don’t like wikipedia but because they already have so many inbound links and inherent trust in the eyes of the search engine that a link from this blog basically has a negligible impact on wikipedia’s search rankings. In other words, even if I did not include the NoFollow attribute the link would still not help wikipedia much but would cause other links in this article to be a little less powerful. I don’t think they need any more help in ranking highly on search engines so I made the link a NoFollow.
You can sometimes use the nofollow attribute on your own site too. For instance, if there’s nothing on your contact page other than a contact form, you should probably add a nofollow attribute to it. That way, your other links get a little more link juice because your linking power is concentrated over fewer links.
A few other places where the NoFollow attribute makes sense is to any social networks you link to (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin etc.), any huge sites that already rank high in search engines (Wikipedia, New York Times, etc.) and any sites you simply do not trust but must reference (spam blogs, pirated software sites etc.). Concentrating your link power to a few trusted sources who will benefit from the extra links is a crucial part of SEO strategy and helps benefit your own site and other sites you link to.
When to Not Use NoFollow
Again, it comes down to due you want to help the site you’re linking to. For instance, my link at the beginning of this post to Coree’s blog, Market Like a Chick, and to our post on basic HTML tags does not include the NoFollow attribute. We trust both sites and think they represent a value to our readers and should have their rankings improved, so we left the links as regular DoFollow links. Further, we want to benefit readers of this blog so we pass link power to Coree’s blog and to our own blog.
So, don’t go NoFollowing each and every single external link on your site as part of your SEO strategy! If we all did so then no one would get any link power and the web would collapse. OK, maybe the consequences would not be quite that dire, but if you NoFollow every link then you’ll probably be less likely to get quality links in return. When we link to other bloggers, small businesses or other sources that could benefit from a higher spot in search engine rankings we leave the link as a regular link that does pass power to the source.
I tried to keep this post brief and broad to give a general overview of the NoFollow attribute. If there’s any areas you’d like more specific information on leave a comment and we’ll help you out.
Thanks to zenera for the lovely picture of the search cat.