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To Follow or to Nofollow…

TJ Welsh

Bloggers have been plagued with spam for as long as they have been around. But even before blogs, spammers were wreaking havoc for website owners. Many of you are familiar with the history before blogging; but for those of you who are not, here is a brief run down.

Back in the early 2000’s, prior to the infestation of blogs, the web was full of guest books. Guest books gave owners interaction with those that visited their site by allowing visitors the opportunity to post a message and other information. Spammers soon realized the guest books weren’t being monitored, and began placing links in order to generate traffic to their sites. This became such a problem that Google and other search engines began looking for a solution. Shortly after guest books appeared, blogs arrived which brings us to where we are today. Unfortunately, the spam tactics on guest books are now being used on blogs. I did a search for scuba diving comments and found this example:

The anchor text link goes to a weight loss website. With spammers inundating blogs, similar to the example above, it was even more important for search engines to find a solution. Back in 2005, Google introduced their Nofollow attribute to the world of blogging in order to combat spam. The nofollow tag has been added to numerous social media sites such as Blogger, WordPress, Modblog, Technorati, and others in an attempt to reduce spam. Now comments posted on these and other sites look like:

Visit my <a href="" rel="nofollow">keyword </a> site

as opposed to the normal:

Visit my <a href="">keyword</a> site.

This ensures that page rank from a credible site is not passed to a non-relevant and often non-credible site. This is a nice feature for those that do not monitor their blog comments, and it prevents spammers from taking the link juice to their site. However, a major problem with nofollow is that website owners try to persuade others to participate and make comments on their blogs. The users that participate frequently and give valuable feedback should be rewarded for their efforts, and rightfully so. That reward should come by way of links to the sites they reference in their comments.

There are tools available in order to remove the Nofollow attribute such as the plugin I found for wordpress. You can set a limit on the amount of comments a person has to leave before dofollow feature kicks in.

The fight against spam will always be around, but hopefully you will find yourself on the winning end. The best thing to do, is to monitor your blog comments and filter them. It’s better for everyone.

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