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Google to stop blog comment spam?
w/a rel="nofollow" attribute tag?

 4:12 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)





 4:38 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

First, lets backup and clear up a ton of misinformation about this subject that is out there:

a) Google fully obeys a meta NO INDEX tag. Has never failed once at that function that I am aware of.

b) Google does not support use the "no follow" in the robots meta tag. The attribute means nothing to any of the modern search engines. There is no requiement on the engines to obey the tag as there can be any number of ways to discover pages other than from the links on that page. If you put a page on a public server that a browser can get too - then the search engines are under no obligation to stay away from that page or not list even the url. If you don't want a page or the url in a search engine - then don't put it on the web or specifically block it with a bots.txt.

I can not see Google inventing a new tag to address problems with it's own methodology. If google introduces a new tag or obeys an old one, there will be a headline story in SEO, "Google Admits Page Rank Problems". It would be the first public admission by Google that their algo is still based around links and that there is a problem with that methodology.

If Google were to publically admit a problem with link counting methodologies, it would send a signal to every seo on the web to dust off the algo crackers and fire up the link buying campaings because it is open season.

To give us the "no follow" tag, would be the best SE spam tool we could be given. It would effectively stop comment spam, but blow open the doors to blog spam the old fashioned way...bring it on.


 8:07 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

apparently, it is confirmed.



 8:19 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

[blog spam the old fashioned way..]

what is the old fashioned way?


 8:25 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

That giant blowing sounds you hear are seos registering new blogs at record paces.

Google owns blogger. They want to devalue links, they know exactly how to do it it on all the major apps on the web.

I just can not see them doing it - it is an admission that they are losing the game. It is a capitulation on the issue of linking.

The old gray mare pagerank aint what she used to be...


 8:47 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Brett is correct.

If Google do this it basically says that any old links will do to fool their algorithm.


 10:13 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I guess there is fixing the problem (which to do already internally), and then there is fixing it in the brain of those that are left still spamming.


 10:31 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

The proposed "solution" (adding a
rel="nofollow") sucks badly in a technical sense too. It is a completely non-standard (although validating), user-agent-specific bit of cruft - a throwback to the old days of creative attribute creation by browser makers. The attribute has no meaning outside of a very narrow context (one spider from one search company), has no guarantee of future compatibility and is meaningless outside of that context.

What would happen if MS and Yahoo invented their own attributes, all incompatible, in order to control their bots?

<a href="http://example.com" rel="nofollow" rel="msn-noindex" rel="slurpnot" rel="nah-its-spam-mate">link</a>


 10:39 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Paging Brett Tabke, Paging Brett Tabke...

This is a PR stunt combined with a little magical SEO detection script.

Who gripes the loudest in the technology space? Bloggers!

Who complains on a mass scale, and who is the media starting to listen to? Bloggers!

Bloggers get all happy because they think it'll stop blogspam. The initial press on this will be HUGE. Once they figure out it doesn't do a damned thing, they won't complain about Google, because Google did something about it!

Non button pushing SEOs get all happy thinking blogspam comments are being devalued because of this magical tag.

Button pushers have been lighting my IM window up all day LMAOing. They think this is absolutely hilarious.

Google gets wise - hello, here's a bunch of norel tags. OK, fine, ignore the ones on pages called mt-comments, because we really don't care about blogspam in the first place.

After we've done that, let's look at all of the SEOs out there that are trying to make recip links look like one ways! Wowowowowow... a new way to catch SEOs!

Once again, I have to hand it to Google. They're smart.


 10:59 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I totally agree Jake, but all this is going to do is push the low grade spammers into content stealing. It also is the first admission by Google that their core product offering has a problem. This is the kind of stuff the financial world movers take notice of.

From everything we've heard today in front and behind the camera - it sounds like this is going to come to pass.

So, lets post it:


 11:02 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google (etal others) took action today to apparently to stem the tide of intentional link postings on blogs, guest books, open forums, and diary sites. People have developed robots that will post links to websites within those guest books and diary sites. The trend of unwanted diary and blog site links (sometimes referred to as LinkSpam within the SEO community) has grown multiples in the last year.

Google today introduced a new attribute to the html href tag that will allow people coding links to add an attribute so that Google will not count those links in it's algorithm. Thus, they take away any real world or perceived advantage by spamming with links.

<a href="http://www.example.com/page.html" rel="nofollow">click here to be spammed</a>


This is the first ever public admission that it's patented core algorithm PageRank has problems holding up in the real world. I can not remember a single other step Google has publicly taken to specifically address a problem with its core technology. A problem that several Google engineers told me on background today that they handle these problems in the algo any way. As one anon source at the plex said today, "...there's fixing it for us, and then there's fixing the perception of it."

The effects of this action with be minor to some, but major to others. Those newer blog owners that don't understand how easy it is to redirect a link so that it doesn't count in search engines will hale the new attribute as a major plus.

I think every owner of a blog, guest book, diary, or forum on the web would tell you that there is a problem with robots dropping links on pages.

Even here at WebmasterWorld with our custom software we spend a significant amount of time fighting spam drops. Those webmasters with generic off-the-shelf software where they don't know how to change simple form values or post locations go through a daily routine of cleaning their sites of link spam. However, one has to wonder - can those clueless blog owners have the intelligence to add a simple tag to a link?

What will this mean for SEO's?

While it will effectively eliminate the comment spam game, it will increase the value of actual blog spam. We all have read those blogs that are nothing but spam links to other sites owned by the webmaster. That type of fake story and generated comment sites are going to increase by multitudes.

As those that created and used comment spam are driven away from blogs, they will look for other ways to work the algo. The first and foremost will be with stolen content jammed back on to blogs. It is clear to me that content theft is on the rise again - the action today may increase that escalation even further.

All-in-all, I think this is a step in the wrong direction for Google, but I hope it works and will try to reserve final judgement for awhile.


 11:22 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I really don't care one way or another about blog spam or google's PR image or whether SEOs start going nuts with blogging.

I like that it gives me another tool to tell put in a link to a bad neighborhood without having to resort to javascript.

All told, I expect that the world will give it a giant ho-hum and keep going the way they have been going all along. It isn't revealing any big failures that no one knows about. It is just offereing people a tool to make them feel like they can make a difference over an annoying situation.

And it certainly is not going to have any impact on any old guestbooks that are hanging around and have been ignored by their owners for years. They certainly aren't going to rush out and upgrade their software.


 11:25 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

so the bloggers that already delete the comment spam will now delete comment spam that have been automatically tagged with the new nofollow tag? Yeah - that sounds like it will work....


 11:27 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

It could also affect log spamming if stat programs implament it.


 11:33 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

While it will effectively eliminate the comment spam game

No it won't. Comment spammers aren't after active blogs that are deleting comments.

Active blogs are just innocent victims of the true intention.

See oilman's comment...


 11:37 pm on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google does not support use the "no follow" in the robots meta tag. The attribute means nothing to any of the modern search engines.

Brett, are you sure about that one?


Googlebot obeys the noindex, nofollow, and noarchive meta-tags. If you place these tags in the head of your HTML document, you can cause Google to not index, not follow, and/or not archive particular documents on your site.


 12:00 am on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sorry for the dumb question, but if Google is no longer following links from mt-comments pages, what difference does this new tag make to bloggers? It looks like mt-comments pages are no more on Google anyhow.

Continued over here:

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 4:04 am (utc) on Jan. 19, 2005]

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