Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Google adds “nofollow” attribute for links

Filed under: — adam @ 11:27 pm

Google is now honoring the rel=”nofollow” attribute in link tags. Basically what this means is that links in comments, and links to your competitors, or links to things you hate can be eliminated from consideration in computing the page rank of the destination page.

MSN search and Yahoo are also adding this:

On the one hand, I think this is a great idea and a long time coming – I’ve often complained that links aren’t all alike and should be treated differently.

But, on the other… I run a small blog, and I get a lot of my page karma from comments I put in other blogs. I don’t see that as necessarily wrong – my comments are always on topic, and if the owner of the blog doesn’t agree, they can always delete the comment or the link. Google isn’t tracking clickthroughs (yet), so they have no way to know if a given link in this context is actually popular or not. Automatically including this tag in the comments section may decrease the level of comment spam, but it’s also going to hurt a lot of small bloggers as well, I think. And if you’re reading the links individually to make the distinction, well… why not just delete the spam ones? This is obviously meant to be an automated measure, and it’s going to catch a lot of legit links too.

It’s just pushing the unknown down one layer, and substituting one set of unknowns (owner links vs. comment links) for another (legit comment links vs. spam links).

4 Responses to “Google adds “nofollow” attribute for links”

  1. Aaron Wormus Says:

    Yes, I totally agree! I really don’t care about their PR, I don’t want the link on my site and I’m happy to let my PR spread out to the people who legitimatly comment on my blog.

    Blog spammers will always be spamming, and will always find new ways of doing it. This doesn’t help me much at all.

  2. chris Says:

    Yah, one of my first thoughts was how will that affect blogging in general? Valid, on-topic comments are part of what makes a blog interesting (that would be the dialog part). I imagine that at least some of the motivation for posting comments is to boost on-topic linkage to one’s own blog.

    It’s kind of throwing the baby out with the bath water.


  3. adam Says:

    Exactly! But, more importantly, it doesn’t do anything to increase the cost of comment spam. Maybe it will reduce the pagerank benefit, but that’s not the only benefit, and without increasing the cost, the cost/benefit ratio for the comment spammers is still VERY high.

    There’s also a very long Metafilter thread on this with some good comments.

  4. Darwin Says:

    I don’t see how you’re losing out notably.. but I guess I’ve never imagined that links left as part of comments contribute materially to page rank. At most it’s a handful (5? 10?) to any given post, and it seems like that would be swallowed up by the weighting of keywords..

    If your comment is on-topic, it’ll be followed from whoever found the original (high-ranked) page anyway, no?


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