- Posted by Eric Lander
- On February 18, 2008
- 4 Comments
To say that my nofollow theory was criticized last week would be an understatement.
Admittedly, I used some fiery words that got people all riled up. I did that for a reason. Is a nofollow attribute going to be one “gigantic red flag” ? Of course not — but I’ll be damned if that’s going to limit my article’s readership.
C’mon now… That’s sick. Add in 545 results for “NoFollow: An SEO Red Flag?” on Google — and I’m thinking I raised a halfway decent debate if nothing else.
No Legs to Stand on!
As Chris Boggs points out, my theory has no legs to stand on. I’m okay with that, because it’s simply an opinion. Somewhere along the lines the readers of the article over on SEJ began to interpret opinion as fact.
Did I not use clear enough language? Here are some examples of how I thought I set the tone of the post:
• “Until this post, I have not shared my view on the “nofollow” attribute. It is my belief that”…
• “What I do not understand though is the warped perspective…”
• “Why then do we limit our ability to reason and just assume that the engines see a nofollow and forget all references between two linked pieces of content?”
…These lines, and the core of the entire post set the tone for a discussion on the topic which is exactly what I was after.
The Double Negative
For those of you playing along, the title of this post is a double negative — again, an intentional move on my part. You can bet your ass I’ve got legs to stand on — and here’s why.
First, the post was publicly created to start a discussion and debate. It did that.
Second, it called the use of nofollow into question. a “rel=nofollow” was created as a social media device to limit the association of a page to those commenting or dropping their links on that page. Using this attribute in non-social media is case where SEOs have taken the element out of context for their own needs.
If engines do not see that as some sort of signal, I don’t know what could be.
Matt Cutts Kool-Aid, Anyone?
Since I’ve challenged some of you to think a bit “outside the box” (hate that cliché, but I’m tired, bear with me!) so far — let’s not stop there.
One thing I make it a point not to do though, is to drink Matt Cutts’ Kool-Aid.
On my SEJ post, Matt placed the following comment:
“It is my belief that using the nofollow with the purpose of controlling the flow of links or link juice is a gigantic red flag in the eyes of the engines.”
Nope, it’s not. Or at least, not at Google. I wouldn’t know about Yahoo/MSN/Ask, of course. :)
Sorry kids, this is where my chosen language comes back to bite me in the ass. See, I went out on a limb and used a silly adjective like “gigantic”. In turn, Matt’s comment can be seen as completely safe both by those opposing my view — as well as those supporting my view. Hell, I believe him on that (other than the fact that he told me my opinion was not true… How can one’s opinion not be true to them?)
One problem here is that “gigantic” got you to read. “Gigantic” got you worried. “Gigantic” got the debate going.
But “gigantic” is interpretive. With so many ways to distrust Google, the use of nofollow is likely seen — and noted as well. (Just check in on Webmaster Central if you’d like to see nofollows to your site being noted.)
Consider this — When a tree falls on a car, it’s seen as minor damage by the news station covering a storm passing through the area. For the 16 year old who poured every penny into getting that car running, it’s a gigantic problem.
It’s always about perspective.
So Matt, you need to step in and clarify a bit on this? If I run a static site and I use the rel=nofollow attribute on my links in a manner of influencing the distribution of link authority — does Google make note of it at all? If so, is it possible that the note made is then referenced at any other point in time, for any purpose?