Follow that link!

Making the rounds this week: IO Error’s critique of “nofollow”, the link add-on that was supposed to stop comment spam, but hasn’t even slowed it down. He suggests that it was never intended to: it was simply a sneaky way to lower blogs’ rankings in search engines.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the idea of being able to tack a note onto a link and tell Google not to treat it as an endorsement. But the way it’s been implemented in most blog software—blindly applying it to all links in comments—is overkill. Legitimate, useful, interesting comments should factor into the resource’s ranking, for all the reasons IO Error provides.

Where rel="nofollow" does help with comments is in devaluing the spam that slips through your filters overnight. If a search engine bot happens to crawl your page between the time the comment hits and the time you see it and remove it, nofollow will at least make the spam less effective. Of course, you only need it active for a day or two (depending on how often you check). Once you’ve cleaned the junk out, you want what’s left to get the rank boost it deserves. I’ve been using the No Nofollow plugin to do this since March.

In short, I don’t think that rel="nofollow" is a bad idea in itself. It’s just being used the wrong way.

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