Yesterday I challenged you to look at nofollow in a different way that you had before. It’s not something that destroys our potential for building online relationships or communities. Throughout that post, I focused on dispelling several myths surrounding the dofollow vs. nofollow debate. Today we’re going to look at the third and final myth.

Note: Nofollow is a tag created by Google that identifies a link as one that should not be followed by search engines and as one that should not pass Page Rank through it into the linked site. It tells Google that although we are linking to the page, we are not vouching for or against its quality.

Myth #3: NoFollow is Evil. You are wrong for using it.

People are convinced that nofollow is evil. I actually hear people talk about it and pass moral judgment about it. I even heard one man use the word terrorist when talking about those who use the nofollow tag.

I’ve heard many people say that the first thing they do at a new blog is to determine the status of their comment links and that if they are dofollow it is a sign that the blogger is a generous, giving person. What!? People are actually kinder and more generous if they use dofollow links? That’s crazy. The follow or nofollow of a link has absolutely no bearing on the character of the blogger. It doesn’t make the blogger evil, unkind, or ungenerous.

Nofollow protects webmasters from harmful, random, or irrelevant links that can actually slow the growth and development of our communities by holding back the number of people who would otherwise be able to find us and join us through search engines.

Here’s some information from Matt Cutts explaining to us exactly how Google views comment links.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/v/NQfOhncTXRU[/youtube]

By reducing the low quality links in the comment section, you can boost your authority in Google’s eyes and improve the number of search engine traffic that you receive. This allows more people to be drawn into your community, and that’s better for you and for those people who have now discovered and been helped by your content.

I enjoy having posts with 50+ comments, and if I lose some of that, I know the ones that stopped commenting were only here for links anyway. The others comment because they have something to add, and I would rather have those comments because they are genuine.

Keith Bloemendaal from Hot Blog Tips

Interesting Note:

Did you know that CopyBlogger, Problogger, Chris Brogan and many others use the nofollow tag at their websites? These are people who are building powerful communities around their respective niches. Nofollow is not a community killer.

Group Reflection

The comment links on Site Sketch 101 are mixed with both follow and nofollow. Once you’ve posted 15 comments across the site, every comment that you have posted including the recent post link that appears at the bottom of each comment will automatically have the NoFollow tags removed.

I want to reward people who are actively participating in the conversation, but I don’t want to attract a bunch of drive by commenters who are only in it for the link. Once I’ve seen and approved those 15 comments then I know that I trust their links and that I can respect and reward their input.

Important Note: All of the trackbacks at Site Sketch 10 are dofollow. I believe that responding to one another with opinions on our own websites is a terrific way to build broader conversations throughout the blogosphere and I want to do whatever I can to continue encouraging this type of communication.

This is the balance that I’ve decided to claim in this debate. It allows me the comfort of knowing that I’m giving back to those who area part of the conversation but also that I’m not promoting a false sense of community by essentially paying people to comment.

What do you do at your website and why?

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

32 Comments

  • I agree with your conclusion Nicholas.

    What I get from this is that there is nothing wrong with do-follow. It just needs to be implemented in a structured manner that will prevent the system from being a free for all. For every commentator I usually check their site just to get an overview of their background. I can manage this because my site is new and the traffic is manageable.

    Question: How do you set your site to automatically give do-follow after a specified number of comments? My site has do-follow and I would love to do that.

    Thanks for this awesome debate. It really was enlightening.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: How to Highlight Author Comments & Edit Your Reply Button in Thesis =-.

    • Robyn from Sam’s Web Guide » You’re right. There is nothing wrong with either one and as I stated, I use and enjoy dofollow links in my comment section. Having said that, I’m not a naive follower of a broad cult movement. I’ve carefully calculated both sides of the issue. I’ve not held back from viewing the serious drawbacks of both sides and I have then built an informed position.

      I use a plugin called NOFF which stands for Nofollow Free. It allows the option of creating follow or nofollow based on the comment count of each author. For me, that provides the perfect happy medium.

      I’m glad that you’ve been enjoying the conversation here.

  • Keith says:

    I have actually considered using do-follow on a case by case basis, but I have been so turned off by these advocates of do-follow that insist on becoming irate about the topic. It is almost as bad as getting a Democrat and a Republican in the same room.

    I stand by my choice to change to no-follow on my site, and I still get plenty of comments, my traffic has increased, and the quality of comments has increased.

    When I removed do-follow from my site shortly after taking it over, I announced it in a blog post. There was a huge debate in the comments. But the only thing I saw people saying was they do it to be support other bloggers and businesses. This is true ignorance to me. The comment links don’t get weighed nearly the same as content links, and I would rather show my support by linking within a post to other sites I support.

    One final note, I prefer to decide who I “vote” for, not just because they leave a great comment because let’s face it, a great commentator doesn’t always have great content on their own site…
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Twitter: How I Follow =-.

    • Keith » The truth is, you have nofollow links only because you are a big meanie and you don’t care about people. Now, of course, I know that’s not true because I know you, but there are many people that I’ve seen express that toward you when they saw you make the shift at your site.

      I hope I’ve shown enough merit in these articles to demonstrate that I fully support both decisions. And I have also noticed the change in comment quality at your site. I’ve actually been seeing some really terrific discussions going on over there.

      I also agree with you concept of the vote. We should reserve the right to pass that vote to what site’s we feel deserve a vote and not just to everyone that leaves a random comment.

    • My inflammatory nature says to blacklist the ip’s of the complainers 🙂
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Dreamin’ Like a Superstar =-.

  • I’ve been using dofollow for about a month. I can’t say that it has swayed the number or quality of comments I do get (which isn’t much). After watching the Matt Cutts video, I’ll probably go back to nofollow, and just let the top commenters get the dofollow juice. I’ve been seeing an up tick in spam comments which manage to get past Akismet lately. No point in letting Google think I’m linking to some male enhancement pills because one slips through right when I won’t be near any computer to do any cleanup for a while.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Alyssa Milano’s Nikon FA =-.

    • K. Praslowicz » That’s exactly right. And always keep in mind that you can create a system like mine where the comments become dofollow after they have posted several and have shown themselves to be a respectable member of the blogging community.

      Your example about linking to a male enhancement site and not being able to delete it until the next time you come back to the internet is a great example of why nofollow does have a place in our circles.

  • Jimi Jones says:

    I really appreciate this post as it sums up my position exactly. Enough of the demonizing those who remain or have switched to no-follow.

    I personally think no-follow is the better, safer choice, not because I’m selfish, just protective of my site and brand.

    By the same token, I see those who are using Do-follow as bloggers who have simply made a choice that they have every right to do. I see it as a matter of choice as opposed to right or wrong.

    Like Keith, I prefer to share the love on a personal basis by linking to sites that I support.

    Let’s build some relationships before raiding the link-love cabinet.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Build Your Brand with Twitter Directories =-.

    • Jimi Jones » Exactly. I’m not sure why the dofollow community rallies together and forces people to believe that it is a questions of right or wrong. It is really a question of preference. It’s not a moral debate. As you mentioned, Nofollow can provide the security to protect your site which may be exactly what some webmasters need.

      I also agree with both of you that linking within the content is much more meaningful than gaining links through comments. This is also why I dofollow my trackbacks because that type of conversation is so much more meaningful to me.

  • Bill Bennett says:

    I agree with you.

    And I like the idea of giving some types of comments dofollow and others nofollow.

    Do you have any tips on how to get the most out of the NOFF plug-in?
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Old era newspaper office libraries =-.

  • I don’t even see why it matters…does anyone really pick and choose sites to read/comment on based upon do-follow/no-follow?

    I guess I’ve just never understood the fascination.

    I’m with you Nick, as we talked about several weeks ago. I just don’t understand why some people worry about it.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Dreamin’ Like a Superstar =-.

  • Adrienne says:

    I didn’t know this was a serious issue. I don’t consider leaving a comment based on this or if a blog has comment luv.

    I was sadly told to only leave comments on comment luv sites. I no longer follow this person.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Spend My Money-Wii Fit Games =-.

    • Adrienne » Exactly. People are actively preaching that you should only follow and participate on sites that use dofollow, commentluv and keywordluv.

      This actively creates communities that are only used by other bloggers. Of course, my blog is geared toward people that are bloggers, but not all blogs are. Why should a blog about metal detecting, or a mommy blog or a blog that appeals to regular, non-webmasters have to even worry about all of this?

      Anyone who tells you that you should only comment on sites like that is doing exactly what I’m talking about. They are making a moral decision, a question of right or wrong. It is not a question of right or wrong. It is not a question of sticking it to the man. It is a question of preference.

  • Ron Leyba says:

    Great move here Nick! I think, this is the most effective way to include or employ the nofollow or dofollow links.

    This is what I call “case to case” basis of giving back to your avid fan and followers.

    The true benefit of this thing is now you can determine those people that are real followers that loves to be here and read all your wonderful post.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Webthesurfi Rugs Webdesign =-.

  • I see a lot of bloggers talking about this and I agree with Nathan. Who cares? lol If I like someone I’ll come back to their blog and comment. I don’t even know how to tell if a blog is one or the other. I just don’t care. I enjoy the interaction with the community and I’m learning a lot from it.

    • Richard Scott | Jewelry Secrets » I like that attitude and that’s exactly the attitude that I want to foster in the community at Site Sketch 101. Let’s jump in and rally around the topics and the discussions…not around the “What are you going to give me if I talk to you?” attitude.

  • I don’t really care whether a site’s comment links are nofollow or dofollow. I believe that when I leave a comment, someone would definitely click and drop off to my blog. I need real people more than Google rank/backlinks. 😀

  • Don Gilbert says:

    Wow Nick, that’s great. Glad I stopped by again and started reading the older articles.

    This is really the end all to the “never-ending” debate. You laid it out point by point and debunked all my arguments against nofollow. (I was one of those people that judged others based on their use of nofollow. lol)

    I love the idea of filtering dofollow links based on the number of comments left by the commenter. What plugin do you use to manage that?
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Crystal Lake Web Design =-.

  • Andrew Crump says:

    Well I had no idea what this was until I read this. Sounds like a real ‘debate’.

    I did not set up my blog but I just checked and it is set to ‘nofollow’.

    The pagerank in google in n/a so it really makes not difference.

    If the pagerank improves then I will make sure its changed to dofollow… share the love.

    ‘Question: How do you set your site to automatically give do-follow after a specified number of comments? My site has do-follow and I would love to do that.’

    This seems like a happy medium. Can it be done?

  • Thomas Frank says:

    I like your way of doing things. While you don’t want to reward spammers, I think it’s important to give benefit to your true fans – especially at a site that’s dedicated to helping people build their own blogs and communities.

    Is there a certain plugin you use to do this?

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