I think it’s time we all agreed that the “nofollow” tag has been a complete failure.
In other words, if I post a comment on your blog, and my comment includes a link to my site, people can click on that link to see my site as usual. Ordinarily Google would see that link and view it — as it views most hyperlinks — as an implicit endorsement of my site. This would ever so slightly boost my site’s ranking in Google search results. But if your blog software adds the nofollow tag, Google won’t give my site any added weight at all.
The half-baked idea was that if everyone adopted nofollow, it would quickly make comment spam pointless. The thinking was that comment spam is aimed at creating lots of links to a certain site, thereby boosting that site’s rankings in Google searches. Example: If I fill your comment pages with links to haiku, then maybe Google will start to believe that my haiku site really does have something to do with haiku.
Since its enthusiastic adoption a year and a half ago, by Google, Six Apart, WordPress, and of course the eminent Dave Winer, I think we can all agree that nofollow has done … nothing. Comment spam? Thicker than ever. It’s had absolutely no effect on the volume of spam. That’s probably because comment spammers don’t give a crap, because the marginal cost of spamming is so low. Also, nofollow-tagged links are still links, which means that humans can still click on them–and if humans can click, there’s a chance somebody might visit the linked sites after all. Heck, if we really wanted to eliminate comment spam, why don’t we just get rid of hyperlinks altogether?
Worse, nofollow has another, more pernicious effect, which is that it reduces the value of legitimate comments. Here’s how:
Why should I bother entering a comment on your blog, after all? Well, I might comment because you’re my friend. But I might also want some tiny little reward for participating in a discussion, contributing to the content on your site, and generally enhancing the value of the conversational Web. That reward? PageRank, baby. But if your blog uses the nofollow tag, you’ve just eliminated that tiny little bit of reciprocity. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather just comment on my own blog. And maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll link back to you.
This blog entry was referenced by a Yahoo search expert which had his own words of wisdom regarding this train of thought:
Look. Linking is part of what makes the web work. If you’re actually concerned about every link you make being counted in some global database of site endorsements, you’re probably over-thinking just a bit. Life’s too short for that, ya know? Link and be linked to. Let the search engines sort it out.
I think the line “Let the search engines sort it out” is the most educated thing I’ve heard any search employee ever say! The most ironic part of the Zawodny post is how his Google AdSense is displaying a banner from Txt Lnk Ads. Good for those guys getting prime pub.