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Should I Attach Nofollow To Good External Links?


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#1 mrgoodfox

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 03:00 PM

I'm listing a 2 to 4 useful links on most of my site's pages (mostly to government websites). Should I be making them nofollow or dofollow?

#2 jonbey

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 03:18 PM

Why would you make them nofollow? If you do not trust the pages, do not link to them. If you trust them, link naturally.

#3 iamlost

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 03:22 PM

Can we please drop the idiotic term 'dofollow'?

I have never, ever, added rel=nofollow to any of my links. Granted I take special care with how I handle ad and af links but imo rel=nofollow is working for the SEs for free. Not bloody likely.

This goes a zillion fold for useful further reading type external links. Idiocy from the SEO clueless brigade.
There is significant evidence over the years that sites are actually rewarded for external links (the PR hoarding or sculpting silliness is another IFTSEOCB). Granted, as the publicly stated reason for rel=nofollow changed - as it has several times - webdevs might be given some slack for being confused; but not from me. :D

The use of rel=nofollow on ads, af, and paid links is an easy simple 'fix' for newer webdevs and I understand. But it is not necessary (no I'm not going into detail).

Do as you think best. But for heavens sake please know why you doing whatever it is.

<added>what jonbey said :)

#4 Dr.Marie

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 07:46 PM

+1 for allowing the follow.

I personally believe that linking out to authority sites improves your site in the eyes of Google. If I have a page about repairing blue widgets and I link out to several different authoritative blue widget sites, I think this tells Google that your site is important when it comes to blue widgets.

#5 EGOL

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 07:59 PM

I have a blog and a website that link out to lots of other sites. I always code the links without the nofollow. I link to sites that have information that I don't have or sites that are better about a topic than mine. I think that if I used nofollow on those links it would send a message that... "I don't trust this site".

#6 edf

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 08:58 PM

Yep - Ditch the nofollow. When you link out, you become a hub rather than a dead end. Rumor has it that Google prefers hubs.

Ed

#7 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 09:44 PM

And I'll take the opposite view. Remember my totally awesome, high quality, free html5 template site? The one that sold for 15K and probably could have sold for more if I'd had more time to auction it? Well, folks, I had 4 links on that site to external sites. Google thought those 4 links were paid links. They weren't. Well, actually 2 were, but they were image ads, not text links. The other 2 were text links, but were not paid links. I'd always been under the impression that Google understood image ads were ads. I was wrong about that. In any case, Google slapped me with a PageRank penalty. Had I tried to sell that site with that penalty attached, it would not have sold for what it did. So, yes, I nofollowed those 4 silly links, did a reconsideration request, got my PageRank back, and sold the site not long after.

I slap nofollows on almost all external links on some of my sites. Which ones? The ones that I cannot afford to have Google distrust. The ones that matter to me. Do I like it? Nope. But I do what the master wants.

#8 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 03:52 AM

If you're selling links or advertising that might be misconstrued as paid links, then using "nofollow" certainly protects your interest. But if you're just linking out, there is no reason to use the "nofollow".

#9 jonbey

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 05:17 AM

How did you find out those links were the problem Donna? Did Google tell you?

#10 edf

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 01:28 PM

I totally agree with Michael Martinez.

One of the issues I have reading SEO forums in general is that a lot of the Google reactions people describe are due to selling links or advertising. Unlike Donna, many posters don't disclose at first what's truely going on with their site, so the discussion gets skewed and mis-intrepreted by folks who have sites with no "secondary income" agenda.

So yes, if you have a straight foward e-commerce site for example, link out to quality sites where you feel the information is on-topic and beneficial to your visitors. Again, become a hub, not a dead end site.

#11 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 05:25 PM

How did you find out those links were the problem Donna? Did Google tell you?


I made the assumption that the only reason for a PR penalty would be because of paid links, as that's the standard punishment for such (went from 4 to 0 iirc). So, I nofollowed them, did a reconsideration request, and they acknowledged/removed the penalty. So, yes, after the fact, they essentially told me. I had to be knowledgeable enough from the get-go to guess the reason why though.

For a site that I would never consider selling, I would not care about a PR penalty. But since I knew I was going to eventually sell that site, I did not want to have the price lowered because buyers didn't want a PR0 site. As it was, when I sold, it was a PR5, and that helped generate interest.

So, my dazzlindonna blog...I'll never sell it. If they penalize me for the zillions of links I have on it that don't have nofollows, I don't care. But if I ever considered selling it, you can bet I wouldn't risk a PR penalty.

#12 Pete

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 10:30 AM

I made the assumption that the only reason for a PR penalty would be because of paid links, as that's the standard punishment for such


I didn't know there was a penalty for paid links. This is worrying, but I don't understand how could Google can know whether links are paid for?

e.g. I have a paid link, but it's an image ad, would that be penalised? I also have image links that aren't paid for, i.e. I link to sites I like and use an image to make it more interesting. It would possibly look like I was paid for the link rather than linking out of the goodness of my heart.

I have had people asking to pay me for text links (i.e. "relevant" links within a body of text) , but i refuse on the grounds that I don't want any advertising that appears not be advertising.

So my question is, what sort of paid links get penalised and how do Google know they are actually paid for?

Edited by Pete, 26 January 2012 - 10:31 AM.


#13 jonbey

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 10:40 AM

Funny, as I was listening in on a Google Webmaster hangout yesterday and the topic came up, but just as Matt Cutts started to explain how Google determines paid links another Webmaster interrupted to repeat his question (I think). Very annoying! But, from the bit I caught, they just look at trends, networks etc. He said that generally people selling links are operating on a set of servers and they probably downgrade the network for its links etc. I think ...

#14 Pete

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 10:49 AM

He said that generally people selling links are operating on a set of servers and they probably downgrade the network for its links etc. I think ...


Ok, so your bog standard paid for banner ad is OK?

Is it that if something looks like an ad it's fine, but if something is pretending to be just part of the site content and rather than obviously being an ad, then it's another thing altogether.

#15 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 10:59 AM

Nope, Pete, it's not OK. I made the mistake of misunderstanding something that Matt Cutts said a while back. The gist of what he said was that they can understand an image ad is an ad, so I thought I didn't need to nofollow them. Unfortunately, he was talking about ads that go through some sort of script, javascript perhaps, like the kinds of ads that are served by ad networks (like adsense, etc.). But a regular old, hand-implemented image ad, that is just plain old html, does need a nofollow on it, or Google may very well think it's a paid ad (which of course it is), and penalize for not nofollowing it.

Regarding how they know what's a paid ad and what's not...that's long been the question - and argument - generated by webmasters the world over. Many will complain that Google will get it wrong, or competitors will falsely report them for paid ads, etc. But here's the short answer. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how they know. It doesn't matter if they get it right or wrong. You have to accept their judgment regardless. They are the masters of the SERPs, and we are merely disgruntled slaves, running around trying to please our masters. Unless of course we decide that we don't care if we rank well or not in Google. But this discussion doesn't apply to those people, anyway.

Long story short - you can get a penalty for serving standard blog image ads that are paid ads (in Google's determination, true or not) if you haven't slapped a nofollow on them.

#16 jonbey

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 10:59 AM

I got the impression that what he was saying was the algo could pick up when many sites on one server may be linking out to many other sites, sometimes the same sites but on different domains etc.

e.g. if someone wants to game Google they hire an SEO to get links. That SEO uses various properties that he manages and these are often on the same network (not all SEOs are sloppy!). Sites are usually dropped domains that had a little PR in the past. If 30 out of 300 domains on 1 server, all different niches etc, all link out to the same 10 websites, all without nofollow etc. then that could alert the spam crew that some unnatural linking is going on. A quick investigation may result in a link building company being found as the owner of those domains. Bingo!

At least, that was my take on it. Maybe I read too much into a few words. But if I was looking for paid links, those are the types of patterns I would be interested in.

As for buying 1 banner link, I guess nobody would notice or care. But then, once you have that first hit, can you stop?

#17 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 11:05 AM

As for buying 1 banner link, I guess nobody would notice or care.


And yet, I had 4 measley links. 4.
2 were image ads, paid. 2 were text, non-paid.

You'd think no one would notice or care about that either. They noticed. They cared. They penalized.

---

And just to clarify. None of the links were to any kind of link network sites. The 2 text links were to my own sites. One image ad was to a topically relevant site by a friend of mine, and one image ad was to a topically relevant large, well-known site. None were through any kind of broker or anything like that.

#18 jonbey

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 11:13 AM

Yeah, I remember you saying. I personally think that you got unlucky, the fact that you had to remove them to get the PR back is sad and a reflection on how sometimes (as we all probably know) Google get things wrong. But such links should not be nofollow, as if they were, were would the natural links be?

I wonder now, if you added rel="me" instead of rel="nofollow" would that have helped? Which then leads to a new question, does rel="me" change the weighting of a link?

#19 Pete

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 12:07 PM

Ooh, this is making me think. If I add a nofollow to the paid ad, perhaps my customer will notice and complain. OTOH, I can tell him it will improve the page rank and so be good for him even if he isn't getting the value of the inbound link, he should get more traffic if Google depenalise me (assuming the was penalised in the first place which I'll probably never know).

Then all the links I have that appear as if they might be paid links (but aren't) I can make them nofollow, I've got nothing to lose anyway and possible, if Donna is right, something to gain.

#20 jonbey

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 12:29 PM

Last year I actually removed nofollow from a lot of links that I normally had it on, just because I felt that it may send the wrong signal. I used to nofollow my twitter and facebook links, as well as other like flickr - just because they all nofollow links back. But then I thought, I trust these places, why have nofollow on them?

#21 Rachael

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 04:08 AM

Nofollow links will not provide you with any benefits, only dofollow links are followed by the search engines.

#22 jonbey

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 05:54 AM

Nofollowing links will provide huge benefits!

#23 Pete

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 06:02 AM

I hope nobody minds if I bump this thread, it's so full of contradictory advice, I wonder if there are any new insights. I have changed external links to rel=nofollow( apart from links to my own sits, and haven't specifically noticed any advantage/disadvantage.

#24 jonbey

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:48 AM

Yeah, it is such a confusing area. One SEO person recently suggested that I added nofollow to links on one of my sites. I trust them as an SEO as it was their advice that helped me recover from Panda, but at the same time, the advice makes no sense. I raised it with a Googler who said that if the links are natural, do not nofollow them.

The risk in my part is that someone could easily assume that the links are paid and that would result in a penalty. It really is a shame that we have to consider such things now. A clear sign that PageRank based on links is really screwed. Even natural links are under constant suspicion!

#25 iamlost

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 10:56 AM

Let's be really blunt about rel=nofollow:
* if you use it on most/all external links you are telling the SEs:
---you only link out to what you believe are untrusted sites and/or to sites that pay you in some fashion.
---that you believe in the antiquated silliness of PR hoarding and/or 'sculpting'. Actually what you are probably doing is wasting accrued page value.
---shining a spotlight on your own 'exempt' sites.

* if you use it on most/all external links you are telling other webdevs:
---you are an SEO lemming.
---that they may not want to link out to you.

Note: There is evidence that rel=nofollow is largely ignored by the SEs, certainly for any of the public reasons for using it. It does, however, give them cover when they want to slam a site.

While I still have never added rel=nofollow to any link I can understand those that feel that including them on paid links/ad links is a caution worth taking. However, I can see absolutely no reason for adding it to non-revenue, user value additional reference links.

#26 glyn

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 06:00 AM

If you are spending time on such trivialities you are doing things wrong. However unmasked affiliate links is now something affiliate managers should worry about. If you have clean domain with swme anchor you couldget hit



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