Nofollow attribution is an HTML tag that is more or less a command or instruction given to search engine spider not to crawl a link or pages with the intent of passing ‘link vote’ in favor of the linked content or website.

This may be a little confusing if you do not have background knowledge of what link vote is and why it is associated with search engine spider.

How web pages are ranked on search engine result page (SERP): Little background

Search engine service providers especially the notable ones like Google, Yahoo, Bing, MSN and AOL have so many ranking factors (the parameters or things they consider before they rank content on the World Wide Web). Some of which are backlink, title & Meta tags, keywords, social share, etc.

The best performing content on World Wide Web base on the term searched for in relation to these ranking factors according to the algorithm that crawl the page is what you see rank #1 on SERP apart from the sponsor adverts on the upper and right side.

Backlink as one of the most crucial ranking factors is a function of the number of links pointing to a particular web page (called outbound link) which invariably determine its authority. So, whenever you link to content outside your website, (probably to support the facts you’re trying to establish) you build a backlink to that site because search engine spider will count it as a vote of authority if there is relevancy.

How does it relate to ‘nofollow’ tag?

Sometimes, you might want to link a web page without necessarily wanting to pass link juice to it. Again, if you continue to link content outside your website without including the nofollow tag, you might be penalized by Google for suspicious back-link trade.

The WordPress post editor has a ‘naked link’ relationship. By this I mean any link created within the post editor is an automatic ‘Dofollow’ link (i.e. a link vote). You’ll have to manually institute a ‘do not follow’ relationship through ‘nofollow’ tag.

If WordPress post editor has a direct link to any content linked to within it and search engine can follow such links manually with the intent of passing link vote, what about other sensitive features on WordPress like the comment box, widget, etc? Do they also carry a dofollow link default?

The answer to these questions will lead us to the origin of ‘Nofollow’ attribution.

The origin of nofollow tag

In the early days of internet and of course, CMS development, there is nothing called ‘nofollow’ because there was no need for it. As blogging platform began to grow and became popular, people began to devise means to use it to enhance website rank on SERP.

The plan to flood blog comment with links that do not add any value to the content became a good idea because backlink is one of the most important ranking factors. Because of this, web page ranks were manipulated and search results were no longer reliable.

So, on 18, January 2005, Google alongside other two principal search engine providers Yahoo and MSN including major blogging platforms took a step to stop backlink spam that is coming from blog comments. This gave birth to ‘nofollw’ slogan.

All the links on blog comments were automatically set to nofollow. That stopped rank manipulation, but it could not stop blog comment spam. That’s why you might still have to consider a plugin like Askimet.

In furtherance to this, WordPress provides additional settings on virtually all its features where nofollow could be added though manually. We would discuss this next week on our blog post under the title: How to add nofollow to links on WordPress.

Advantages of ‘Nofollow’ tag

– It keep you save from likelihood of Google troubles.
– Gives the opportunity to determine which content to vote for in terms of backlink.
– It enables the save use of affiliate links.
– It prevents link dilution from spam comments.
– It prevent website from unsolicited links.

Disadvantages of nofollow tag

The only known disadvantage of nofollow tag from SEO perspective is the ability to discount link equity. If you link to a site or wrote a quest post on a site with the intention of building links back to your site and the site actually linked to your site but with a nofollow attached to the link. By this, your effort has been discounted from SEO point of view.

However, there is still power in such nofollow link. It can bring in traffic that could be converted to loyal customer. After all, that is the reason why you need high rank on SERP.

To further deepen your understanding on nofollow attribution, below is an infographic by Search Engine Land that expose the visual side of the equation.
The Nofollow Tag

Francis 'Toke
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