Nofollow is an HTML instruction to Search Engines not to consider the link destination as endorsed by the link originator. Google, Yahoo, Bing and other high quality Search Engines use links as one factor in considering the importance of a Webpage. So, very simplistically, if two WebPages are identical except that one has more incoming links (sometimes called backlinks) than another then the Page with more incoming links will generally appear higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). If the originating Page includes the HTML rel=”nofollow” then the target of the link won’t benefit from the link (in terms of Search Engine ranking).
Why use nofollow?
There are valid uses for the nofollow attribute; say a Blog post refers to spam sites and links to the sites then the Blog won’t want to effectively endorse the spam site and so will include rel=”nofollow” on the link. Wikipedia, for example, includes the nofollow attribute on all external links so that people don’t add a link to Wiki pages purely to attain a link from a high ranked site such as Wikipedia. Blog software such as WordPress by default included the nofollow attribute in all comments so as to avoid blog spamming.
Of course there are two sides to the nofollow story; by Wikipedia, for example, defaulting to nofollow this means that valid links are not given credit (in terms of Search Engine ranking). The nofollow attribute was introduced by Google to assist in determining which were ‘important’ links and which weren’t. Therefore by including nofollow on all links the original objective of nofollow is lost.
Harrys Travel is now dofollow
As part of my SEO experiment I have decided to reverse the WordPress default of nofollow on comments on the Travel Information Website. I have activated the Dofollow WordPress Plugin and included the ‘U Comment I Follow’ image at the end of each post. The idea behind this is that it will be interesting to see if a higher proportion of visitors comment when they are aware that it is a ‘dofollow’ site.
So, as Shakespeare didn’t say ‘to dofollow or to nofollow, that is the question’.