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NOFOLLOW: The Bane of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

At the end of 2009 I told the story of C|Net’s Managing Editor asking me to keep reading his company’s stuff, keep commenting, but not seek attribution. I called him out for that ridiculous request both because I knew his motivation was to hamper my Search Engine Optimization efforts and out of indignation. Honestly, it was mostly about the latter.

Imagine asking someone to an event, putting them up on stage with a microphone, having them express their opinion, but not allowing them to identify themselves. Same thing. Ridiculous.

As an SEO Consultant, I advice businesses on how to get past policies designed to hamper their Search Engine Optimization efforts. And let’s be frank: that’s what C|Net was after. They don’t want readers’ SEO juice to compete with their Search Engine Optimization efforts.

That’s people sabotaging other people’s SEO. What about the computerized element?

A few years back, something called NOFOLLOW was introduced to the HTML standard. As defined at Wikipedia, the purpose of NOFOLLOW is “to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results and preventing spamdexing from occurring”. More to the point is what NOFOLLOW is not for: “the nofollow attribute value is not meant for blocking access to content, or for preventing content to be indexed by search engines”. This one is fun; we can’t even agree on what SPAM is!

Still with me?

I bring this up both because I like to remind you of the Amazing Things that hiring The Answer Guy as your SEO Consultant can do for your Search Engine Optimization and because I’m concerned about where software and people are meeting on the SEO issue.

Over a year ago, I wrote a piece arguing that NOFOLLOW is evil. And if you read that Wikipedia entry on NOFOLLOW you’ll see that Google, an early proponent of NOFOLLOW, has backed off on how they feel about it. But most Web authoring software includes NOFOLLOW code when readers write comments. And while there are steps you can take to stop that, they can slow down your website, which Google doesn’t like.

Quite the choice. Either allow your website to include NOFOLLOW links, a choice that just isn’t “right”, or slow your web site’s performance.

See why you need an SEO Consultant? Search Engine Optimization is complicated!

Last week, I commented at Copyblogger, the web site of Brian Clark, a respected SEO Consultant. To his credit, Brian allowed my post to stay on his site, because I had commented in-context. This in spite of the fact that Brian and I are potential competitors in the Search Engine Optimization business. Kudos, Brian. Coopetition works.

But Brian did something even smarter than keep my comment, which added value to his blog, and allowed me attribution. He managed the attribution. When I wrote my comment at Copyblogger I identified myself as being from our SEO Consulting and Search Engine Optimization page, but Brian altered the attribution to point instead at the top level of Answer Guy Central.

Easy, right? I’m still engaged. I said nice things about Brian Clark and Copyblogger. I got “credit” for my “work”. And Brian reduced the efficacy of the Search Engine Optimization I had performed. He didn’t eliminate competition, he managed coopetition.

And while there’s more to it than that, managing coopetition is what Search Engine Optimization is really all about.

Head spinning? Ready for help with your Search Engine Optimization? Contact the Answer Guy about SEO Consulting.


  1. Those Who Believe in SEO Vs. Those Who Don't: The Big Divide - [...] us as a competitor and didn’t want to make getting to us any easier than they needed to.When Brian …
  2. I Just Became The Owner of AOL, GawkerMedia, and Google! - [...] been outspoken in my belief that when you add a comment to a blog it’s not only OK to …
  3. F-Bomb Conflicts - [...] ask whether it’s time to stop caring what people around you think. When Brian Clark, the very successful Copyblogger, …
  4. Authenticity, Context, and Social Networking - [...] Brian Clark’s a smart guy. And never more than here. [...]
  5. Social Networking, SPAM, and How to Defend (and Offend!) - [...] NOFOLLOW isn’t the answer. On the other hand, CoOpetition might be—so long as the coopetition  attempts you make are …
  6. Everything You Need To Know About Everything - [...] Just managing comments, as that article I referred to a moment ago proves, can be incredibly difficult. Gizmodo does …
  7. Reuters Fights Spam and Your SEO Efforts, AND Does it Right. - [...] I’ve been outspoken about this issue. Going back as far at when the Managing Editor at C|Net scolded me …
  8. Google Just Made Papers Boys Illegal - [...] This made me think about a piece I wrote a couple of years back, NOFOLLOW IS THE BANE OF …

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