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Does using NoFollow for internal navigation and outbound linking expose your site to search engine spam teams to look deeper into your internal practices? Eric feels that nofollow with the purpose of controlling the flow of links or link juice is a gigantic red flag in the eyes of the engines. Your thoughts?
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from kensavage 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 0

well put Bill.

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from MattMcGee 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I disagree with the article and left a comment saying so, but it’s a good discussion worth having and worthy of a Sphinn.

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from EricLander 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Matt, I think I know where you’re coming from and can appreciate your point of view on this and any other matter. The post itself was born out of a discussion that Loren and I were having a disagreement on.  I didn’t write the post to be the contrarian as much as I did to create an opportunity for mixed comments and ideas, Should some CMS’ use the nofollow?  Sure.  Should some site owners be wary of freely passing out links without a nofollow?  Absolutely.  Have I created links using a nofollow or advised clients to use them... Yep, dozens of times. I am however very tired of the borderline evangelical posts that dictate an absolute neccessity of nofollow usage simply because it helps for SEO.  As you indicated on the post at SEJ -- nofollows are a tool that can and sometimes should be used.  I think Wikipedia is a great case in point here.

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from aimClear 2392 Days ago #
Votes: -1

eeesh, this is a sobering dialog. Say it isn’t so. Thanks for raising this Eric and to all for comments.

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from scottclark 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Why not just use javascript links for sculpting? 

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from SlightlyShadySEO 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 3

@Scott: Because Javascript is an ugly, terrible language that is not normally cross-browser(or even cross version) compatible, has a habit of rendering/acting in odd ways, and was no doubt created from a transcription of headstone of a satanic dward who hated the internet and prayed for it’s demise. So ugly. So very ugly.

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from clickfire 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I admit I’ve had the thought, but I don’t believe nofollows raise any kind of suspicion with spam teams. True spam is followed, so why would they care? There are plenty of other things going on out there for the spam teams to spend time on, I would imagine.

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from JamesDuthie 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Interesting discussion and an interesting take on nofollow. While I don’t directly work in SEO, I know those who do and regularly talk to them about it. Interestingly, their opinion in converse… inserting a few nofollow links shows the search engines that you’re considering adn abiding by their guidelines. They see it as a positive way to show search engines that you’re doing what they want you to.

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from dannysullivan 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I can’t see nofollow is going to be an automatic red flag when you have sooooo many sites doing it, some without even realizing it (when CMS / blog software puts it in place). When you have Matt Cutts telling people to use it for reasons not just for paid link reporting, it gets even harder to think that’s going to be taken as a signal.

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from EricLander 2392 Days ago #
Votes: -1

Have we all forgotten the roots of the nofollow attribute?I’m really surprised that no one has spoken about the origin of the nofollow’s usage.  We assume (and I led one to think that way in my writing) that a nofollow impacts the flow of link values on all sites we work with.  While that’s assumed to be true, the nofollow was introduced to prevent spamming in the blog community.Yahoo said as much on their search blog (http://www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000069.html) :I’m pleased to announce that Yahoo! Search is one of several organizations in support of a technique that should help combat weblog comment spam. Others involved are: Google/Blogger, MSN Search, Six Apart (TypePad, MovableType, LiveJournal), and WordPress.Other links of interest on this include:http://blogs.msdn.com/livesearch/archive/2005/01/18/nofollow_tags.aspxhttp://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/01/preventing-comment-spam.html

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from DarkMatter 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I see, so you think that when someone uses nofollow as a way to funnel link juice, rather than to stop blog spam, it might be a red flag. Makes sense, but I think Google editors would have their work cut out for them sifting through the millions of sites just based on Nofollow usage. I could see them using it as an indicator if there were other warning signs of link manipulation coming from the site, but I think a human review of every site using nofollow seems very inneficient.

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from fireflyseo 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

No its not a red flag.  Google want you to use no follow becuase it makes their life easier.  Less links to think about, focus on teh do-follows.  If anything I would say no-follow sites enjoy higher rankings than do-follows.  The way I view it is, use no-follow for crap sites and use do-follow for good sites.  Up to you to decide whats good and whats crap.

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from EricLander 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 1

fireflyseo -- Having been involved in SEO for some time, I’m 99.9% sure that Google distrusts the run of the mill "SEO" providers.  Why?  Because most SEO’s are looking for some way to benefit their clients, their efforts, etc.  Even those wearing the whitest hats want to see their own methodologies be the most successful ones.There are many reputable SEO’s out there.  I’d like to think that this group makes up the core of Sphinn’s Users -- which is why I’m thrilled to see such a hot debate here.  But there is a larger group of those gaming the systems, using what is a blog spam prevention tool to manipulate the flow of pagerank on their sites.To DarkMatter’s point, the only way Google could trust the usage of nofollow (and dofollow’s) would be to complete a hand review of every instance where it’s used.  That’s unreasonable, but there’s still some concern there on how these items are used.In an effort to protect their indexes and SERPs, would it not be in the best interest to review sites using nofollows differently from those those who do not?

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from Sebastian 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It makes no sense. Google sooooo wants everybody to use nofollow on UGC and whatnot, so they can’t use it as a red flag too (even if they’d do but tell us they don’t, somebody would reveal it some day). Also, check out small business forums, Web designer hangouts, and places like that, where you find nofollow advice/tutorials too (most of them didn’t get it but that’s a completely other story). I’m paranoid myself, but I don’t buy it. If there would be a nofollow pattern that sets a red/SEO flag, I’m quite sure that I would have discovered it.

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from EricLander 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sebastian -- You’re on my side I think... :)  Like you, I don’t trust everything that Google says.  The core of this issue is that nofollow is intended to police or prevent spam on sites that display UGC.Why then are SEO’s using it to control PageRank on static sites?Why is it such a big deal when buying or selling links?Finally, I commend you on pointing out that "most of them didn’t get it but that’s a completely other story)".  While I agree that many do not get it -- it’s not a different story.  It’s the core of my issue with nofollow’s usage!I love that this is an ongoing debate, but it will forever be open ended.  Like all conspiracy theories, it’ll be one word against the other.  I’m pretty sure Matt Cutts has more clout than I do in this world though...

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from Sebastian 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Eric, when you read the nofollow category on my blog you’ll discover that exactly that is why I code rel="nofollow crap". The link condom’s sneaky morphing from "don’t pass reputation" to "don’t count the link and don’t use it for discovery crawling" as well as its totally different usages (PageRank sculpting, castrating paid links and affiliate links, UGC, ...) confused the hell out of most folks that should be able to understand it. Rel-nofollow is a neat tool, but it’s for search geeks only. Everybody else needs a consultant to implement it, respectively remove it where it’s not suitable.It is, however, a different story because this thread is about the question whether link condom patterns can set SEO flags at search engines or not. I vote for not.BTW, I’m pretty sure that Matt told the truth when he said that rel-nofollow doesn’t set red flags at Google.

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from JohnWeb 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Despite the fact that I don’t believe anyone has given an anecdotal evidence to even suggest that such a bias exists, I think this is just another one of those possible metrics that on the face could look like a good thing to look at, but in reality could be weighted either way.  Too much nofollow may look like a sites been SEO’d, then again it could be a theme, a plug-in, someone going overboard with something they read at WMW, etc.  To me this sounds like watching the back-clicking, domain names, domain age, TLDs, or even valid HTML code.  Some people would argue that a w3 compliant site should rank higher than a coded mess because that shows that the site is professional, on the other hand w3 compliance is easy to institute by an bot generated site as well, and mom-n-pop who are putting out their site in FrontPage98 are less likely to meet w3 standards.  The same argument can be made for domain names, if I’m looking for information on apples (the kind you make pie out of) or the Amazon river, I sure don’t Google sending me to their domain namsesakes.  So the metric cuts both ways, making it unreliable.  For every SEOd site out there using NoFollow there are probably 10 using it that have never used the term SEO, just think of all the wordpress and blogger sites alone.

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from EricLander 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

John, I agree with you. There are thousands of sites using using nofollow attributes purposefully and as intended.And, this is but one more potential element that could factor in the ranking algorithms. I’m not suggesting that it’s this massive red flag like hidden text. I’m merely suggesting that by using nofollows in some of your links, you’re potentially alerting the engines to some sort of link manipulation.I believe that it is in the best interest of the engines to factor that in. As the title of my original post suggests, this is a question for debate. I think my stance is clear in that (my opinion is that) the engines have a strong reason for wanting to evaluate nofollows in some sort of ranking or filtering of pages as they are crawled.On SEJ, I just posted the following situation. Exaggerated, but still a question worth your thought:If a site has 1,000,000 inbounds, ALL of which are nofollowed with the same anchor text, do you think Google will simply discard those links in their figures?

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from Halfdeck 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 2

"If a site has 1,000,000 inbounds, ALL of which are nofollowed with the same anchor text, do you think Google will simply discard those links in their figures?"1,000,000 inbound links with the same anchor text WITHOUT rel=nofollow would raise an eyebrow.REL=nofollow does the same thing META robots nofollow does, except on a per link basis, instead of page wide. If something is invented for a specific purpose, it doesn’t mean it can’t be used for something else. Does the word evolution ring any bells? Are we incapable of thinking outside the box? Besides, debates/polls are no substitution for experience.If you don’t like nofollow, why not start by removing nofollow from SEJ’s comments? If no one used nofollow, Google would stop trying to shove it down people’s throats. Using it when its use suits you and then bashing it when it hurts your pocketbook is nothing short of hypocritical.Most SEOs will recommend 301 redirecting non-www to www to consolidate PageRank. The only real difference between a 301 redirect and rel=nofollow is that people don’t associate 301 redirects with Google’s jihad against paid links.Of course I believe Matt Cutts said nice things about nofollow (he clearly said nofollow does not raise a red flag) in part to encourage more people to use nofollow. That, however, doesn’t make his points less valid.

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from EricLander 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Rocking commentary Halfdeck, and you’ve put me in my place nicely.  While being the Associate Editor over on SEJ, Loren hasn’t given me full on control of the site... yet. :)That said, it is a site where UGC is everywhere.  In that case, a nofollow on a UG link isn’t a bad thing, right?The strongest comment I’ve seen is this one... and I concede to your points HD:Most SEOs will recommend 301 redirecting non-www to www to consolidate PageRank. The only real difference between a 301 redirect and rel=nofollow is that people don’t associate 301 redirects with Google’s jihad against paid links.

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from EricLander 2392 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Miguel, a reader over on SEJ pointed out an article from Danny posted on SEW’s Blog in January of 2005 on this matter:Google, Yahoo, MSN Unite On Support For Nofollow Attribute For LinksIn it, Danny says:“You definitely DO NOT want to use the attribute on links to your own pages. Do that, and you’ll deprive your own pages from the chance of influencing how your other pages rank.”I also enjoyed his choice of wording on:"Think of it as a way to flag to them, "I didn’t post this link -- someone else did.=)

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from dannysullivan 2391 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Heh -- been ages since I looked back over that. I also wrote:Having said this, I’ve no doubt some people will try playing with the new tag as a means to "hoard" PageRank that’s passed on to only a few pages in your site. For example, your home page might link to 25 of your internal pages. Using the new attribute, you could exclude all but five of these pages. Do that, and you might possibly cause Google to give those five pages more credit ...Maybe. Perhaps. And perhaps the search engines may make other changes down the line. Rather than get tricky with this tag, I’d recommend using it as intended for now -- as a means to flag that there are certain links on your web site that you didn’t place there. And now we’ve had advice that got sparked in particular by Matt last year encouraging people to use nofollow as a way to pick and choose with of their links they want to pass credit with. But back then, he said:"It doesn’t mean that it is a bad link, or that you that you hate it, just that this link doesn’t belong to me."Obviously, today I’m sure he’d give a different quote to say that nofollow doesn’t mean that the link isn’t yours, or that you don’t trust it, but that you don’t want to pass along credit. Because it’s hard to say nofollow is just for links you don’t trust if you’re also telling webmasters to use it for their own link.Overall, I still don’t think nofollow is a red flag. I think if Google wants red flags, there are far better things for it to use.  

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from sza 2391 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Someone’s asking you a question. You answer it. But actually he was asking that question to sort out deaf people from those who can hear, and then shoot the latter.Would anybody find this OK? Morally acceptable? Even a little bit?Google officially advising people to use nofollow on their own sites, and then applying nofollow, even to the slightest degree, as a signal against you would be analogous to the above mentioned situation. No way they can do it without losing credibility. I think they are not yet arrogant enough to do such a thing.

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from wheel 2391 Days ago #
Votes: 0

sza, you better think again.  I’m pretty sure Google could give a flying rats ass about losing credibility in the SEO community.  They’ve already twisted nofollow once to suit their purposes, I claim that they might do so again.  See?  I’ve got a pattern behind MY speculation.  They’ve already done it once.I doubt Google’s going to just use nofollow to slap SEO sites.  But I do expect that using nofollow, when the only people outside of forums and blogs that use it, is a good indicator for Google that you’re doing SEO.  And I doubt there’s any reason why in the future they won’t use that information to their benefit and our detriment.  Unless folks really think that they sit around and have meetings over concerns about ’losing credibility’ in SEO circles.Nofollow on it’s own won’t get you hammered. But when Google takes it’s next adverserial step against SEO’ed websites, you should fully expect that it will be taken as one signal amongst others that you’re doing what you’re not supposed to be doing.  It’s data, it’s there.Two choices:  Don’t use nofollow.  what does that make your site look like? There is 0 risk that you’ve provided Google with another signal that you’re doing SEO.  Do use nofollow and you’re either using off the shelf social media software, or you’re doing SEO.  Thanks, I’ll stick to the first one.Argue all day long that they will/won’t use it, but the fact is it does send a signal, Google’s shown they’ll use whatever information they can to nail SEO, and Google’s continuing to move aggressively more and more against SEO’s.

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from Halfdeck 2391 Days ago #
Votes: 2

There’s a difference between making wedge adjustments, tweaking tire pressures, and cutting off the fender. Of course nofollow on internal links to pages other than auxilliary pages is a loud signal that your website has been SEOed. But thinking Google’s gunning against SEO tweaks that makes Google’s job easier is what I call being paranoid.

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from sza 2391 Days ago #
Votes: 0

wheel, I see you don’t trust Google at all. I don’t trust them that much, either, but there’s a wide Rubicon between a) using whatever data they happen to get hold of, and b) using data they malevolently cajoled people into providing, to the detriment of those people.That’s not about losing credibility in SEO circles. That’s about losing credibility, period.

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from beussery 2391 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Eric,I’m half with you on this because Google does say to use nofollow when you can’t "vouch" for a site being linked to and also because of it’s initial use in preventing spam.  What pulls me back in the other direction is the use of nofollow in the site where it was "invented":http://www.cs.unc.edu/~cutts/

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from AccuraCast 2389 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Eric, I think Yahoo! are misrepresenting the eventuality of nofollow as a causality. The "nofollow" tag was recognised by W3C back in 1997 to prevent robots from accessing certain parts of a site that were not meant to be indexed. The rel="nofollow" attribute, strictly speaking, was meant to be an extension of this directive. The fact that it’s ended up being used primarily to prevent blog spam is just an unfortunate eventuality of poor marketing ethic.

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from incrediblehelp 2368 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"Im willing to bet that the only person to know about the nofollow is involved in SEO. This represents a fundamental flaw with the use of the nofollow." Great quote. So are we to believe Google has gifted only the people who know of nofollow attribute the ability to out-rank others that don’t use it? LOL, hardly. In fact even if this PR Sculpting does work, it probably does on such a small level comparable to other SEO techniques it is not even worth doing.

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