What to do with your NoFollow Tags now

So as reported on this site in two previous posts, Google in their infinite wisdom has decided to kill the nofollow tag. What’s more confusing is they did this (they say) a year ago without anyone really noticing. In fact a lot of the big SEO players where still shouting from the rooftops about PR sculpting. But what are the options if you have used nofollow throughout your site ?.

In the the original post on the removal of nofollow I mentioned the general reaction to the removal of this tag. But what’s more interesting is what are the options, to leave the nofollow tag in or remove it completely.

The best description from this is given from Matt Cutts himself:

From Matt Cuts http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/ blog entry:
“So what happens when you have a page with “ten PageRank points” and ten outgoing links, and five of those links are nofollowed? Let’s leave aside the decay factor to focus on the core part of the question. Originally, the five links without nofollow would have flowed two points of PageRank each (in essence, the nofollowed links didn’t count toward the denominator when dividing PageRank by the outdegree of the page). More than a year ago, Google changed how the PageRank flows so that the five links without nofollow would flow one point of PageRank each.”

Disadvantages of leaving Nofollow Tag in your site

1) If you have a page of PR 6 and had 6 outgoing links on that page with 3 followed going to good pages for organic rank and 3 nofollowed going to pages such as the Contact, About Us and Privacy page. The expectation was the 3 links would get a PR of 2 each with the nofollowed links passing no PR at all. Now those 3 followed links will just get a PR of 1 each and the nofollowed links will also get a PR of 1 each but this PR will not get passed to those pages, it will just vanish …. DOH !!!

2) A site with a lot of nofollow links will not appeal to other sites when they consider linking to you. Professional link builders are put off by a nofollow tag and although many of them may be worthless links. You still may be missing out on some good links.

3) using the nofollow tag to simple ensure pages are not indexed by Google can be remedied by use of the robots.txt file.

Why the Nofollow Tag may still be useful

1) The use of nofollow should still be adhered to on paid links. This is something Google recommend and I would keep it in for them.

2) Nofollow can still be good when linking to a site that you don’t want to be associated with i.e. when mentioning a site in a story you may want to link to

3) The original reason the nofollow tag was brought in was to combat blog comment spam. Guess what, it’s still a good option for this but as mentioned above it can also put users off leaving comments. If someone leaves a good comment, I don’t think there is anything wrong with allowing a dofollow links. I personally have an automatic nofollow plugin for comments due to an overwhelming amount of spam in my first weeks of this blog. I may think about changing this.

My Thoughts

Google have said this is a change they made a year ago. If your site was heavily PR sculptured and is performing well, I wouldn’t suggest tinkering with it to back out the nofollow links. If you want to, do this gradually. Test a page and then see how it responds. Going forward you can leave PR sculpting to one side and concentrate on other factors.

I have some nofollow links hanging around this site, especially on tag and archive pages. I am not really sure about keeping them or removing them … PLEASE COMMENT with your OPINION !!!


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About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.