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Group of SE's Introduce New Tag Support
<a rel="nofollow">
encyclo




msg:239875
 12:20 am on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

OMG the details are coming through. The guilty involved in this initiative are:

  • Google (Search and Blogger)
  • Yahoo (Yahoo Search)
  • Microsoft (MSN Search and presumably MSN Spaces)
  • Six Apart (for Movable Type and Livejournal)
  • WordPress

    Not just Google, but all the major players in the search and blogging spheres. However, this is a Google initiative.

    The specific method described is correct, and the rel attribute is designed to mark "untrusted links".

    blog announcements:
    [blogs.msdn.com...]
    [sixapart.com...]
    [ysearchblog.com...]

  •  

    Hanu




    msg:239935
     12:58 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Bot content for bots - human content for humans. Been doing that for years.

    But, but, but, ... but that's ... CLOAKING! Oh no!

    But seriuosly: There's a zillion ways to hide links from the bot or to tell it not to follow links. This rel="nofollow" is just one more way to do the same thing. No need to franzy.

    graywolf




    msg:239936
     1:35 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    If McDonalds, Wendy's and Burger King got together and met in secret with a plan to eliminate ketchup from hamburgers, it's would be unfair trade practice and would be considered collusion.

    If Ford, Chryser, and GM got together with a plan to eliminate gasoline from cars, it would be an unfair trade practice, and considered collusion.

    When Google, Yahoo, and MSN get toghether behind secret doors, be they real or virtual, in a premeditated manor to eliminate something that's collusion.

    Despite the fact that blog spam may be unsavory it's not illegal.

    saoi_jp




    msg:239937
     1:43 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    This is good news for our niche directories that get spammed with irrelevant submissions.

    Directory owners may be putting this link tag attribute in as default anyway, for all the free inclusions. This also allows an opportunity for directory owners to drop this attribute for the links of "special people" (members, advertisers, trusted editors, etc)

    For that matter, forums could include this by default, and only drop it when a member's posts reach a certain number, or if the person is manually selected as trusted.

    encyclo




    msg:239938
     2:04 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Some random thoughts:

  • Is there an agreed specification from the interested parties detailing how this attribute is to be used, or is the precise implementation down to each search engine?

  • The "nofollow" value is a copy of the robots meta tag standard. Does this new attribute work in the same way? In other words, does the spider refuse to follow the link in accordance with the robots exclusion protocol? From the announcements, it appears to mean that a spider will follow the link but not credit a backlink, so why use an attribute value which indicates otherwise and can easily be confused with the existing meta tag value?

  • Are there any other supported rel values, such as "follow" or "none" (again, as this resembles the robots meta tag, there is scope for confusion)? In case of conflict, which value is used?

  • Multiple rel attributes cause a validation error. How would someone who may be already using a rel attribute for another purpose (eg. rel="external") be able to use the nofollow value?

  • Can the attribute be used for internal links or only for external links? Or is this dependent on an arbitrary decision by each SE?

  • The attribute is supposedly for "untrusted links". As I have no control over any external website, should I therefore be putting this attribute on all external links?

  • If everyone uses this attribute for external links (and the probability is that the attribute will soon be in widespread use in many CMSs), what will happen to the PageRank concept?

    I'm a rank amateur at this compared to many here. If I can think of at least a dozen ways of misusing this attribute, I'm sure the pros will be brimming with ideas. Surely, if you can control the value of your links at a granular level on each page of your site, this is a wonderful tool for removing decisional power over ranking from the search engines and placing it in the hands of site owners?

  • Webwork




    msg:239939
     2:09 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Do you see a winner here? [home.austarnet.com.au]

    I sense the old guard advancing: "Thus, from the ashes of the yellowpages, arose . . .

    (drum roll please)

    An increasingly viable online yellowpages . . .

    I hear a distant tsk-tsking and tittering of old men in suits.

    mykel79




    msg:239940
     2:15 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I wonder how this applies to outgoing links helping set the theme of your page. I guess a link with rel="nofollow" doesn't count towards setting it?

    encyclo




    msg:239941
     2:19 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Also, we probably all know this page:

    [google.com...]

    To quote:
    Make pages for users, not for search engines.

    How does this search-engine-specific attribute fit into this guiding principle? It has no meaning whatsoever for "users".

    [edited by: encyclo at 2:20 pm (utc) on Jan. 19, 2005]

    Easy_Coder




    msg:239942
     2:20 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    -->So what if all webmasters start using this tag for all their external links
    Lets do it FOR ALL LINKS... We'll control the web by disallowing crawling activity. Kinda like webmasters on strike.

    whoisgregg




    msg:239943
     2:49 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    If Ford, Chryser, and GM got together with a plan to eliminate gasoline from cars, it would be an unfair trade practice, and considered collusion.

    What if they get together and decide to force the consumer to pay for extra features like air bags and seatbelts?* Is that collusion? Or is it something less sinister?

    * Of course, it didn't happen that way. But surely they would have been applauded if they'd taken the initiative. Even if those features don't always work, sometimes do harm to the operator, and in the case of seat belts don't even work unless the operator properly implements them.

    GaryK




    msg:239944
     2:59 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    If companies got together to try and eliminate the need for gasoline in cars would that really be an anti-trust issue in the USA? It clearly would be an anti-trust issue if the same companies collaborated in trying to set the price of gasoline.

    How in the world can companies coming together to set a standard that has nothing to do with price be affected by anti-trust issues? Might some spammer or group of spammers try and challenge this new "standard" in a court of law citing anti-trust issues because this new tag has adversely affected their income?

    Signed,
    Ignorant in Miami

    [edited for clarity]

    [edited by: GaryK at 3:03 pm (utc) on Jan. 19, 2005]

    rogerd




    msg:239945
     3:00 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    There's nothing illegal about competing firms getting together to establish a joint technical standard, as long as it doesn't harm the consumer, involve pricing or related issues, or somehow disadvantage competitors not in on it. Typically, cooperation on technical standards benefits the consumer by increasing cross-brand compatibility. Clearly, a single attribute is better than multiple attributes like,
    <a href="http://example.com/" googlebot="nofollow" slurp="dontfollow" msnbot="neverfollow" oddbot1="keepout" etc.>

    pageoneresults




    msg:239946
     3:11 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Let's clarify a few things about link relationships and anchor relationships. I do believe some of the terminology is getting mixed up based on my interpretation of the standards.

    Link relationships have been around for quite some time. I've been using them for years to group collections of documents together.

    For instance, links defined by the LINK element may describe the position of a document within a series of documents.

    The roles of a link defined by A or LINK are specified via the rel and rev attributes.

    rel = link-types
    This attribute describes the relationship from the current document to the anchor specified by the href attribute. The value of this attribute is a space-separated list of link types.

    rev = link-types
    This attribute is used to describe a reverse link from the anchor specified by the href attribute to the current document. The value of this attribute is a space-separated list of link types.

    The term granular was mentioned by encyclo. If the search engines really want to get granular, this is probably the method of doing so...

    Although the above discusses the link element, this also applies to the anchor element. For example...

    Site A links to Site B
    <a rel="sponsor" href="Site B">Anchor Text</a>

    Site B links to Site A
    <a rev="sponsor" href="Site A">Anchor Text</a>

    Note in the above example that I've used both rel and rev anchor attributes. The rel expresses the relationship between Site A's link to Site B. The rev expresses the reverse relationship between Site B's link to Site A.

    Okay, there is much more than that. If you follow the links above and bury yourself there for a few hours, you'll find a wealth of information pertaining to A and LINK relationships.

    By the way, I'm going to assume that all of those involved with this initiative have created what is called a profile. The exact reference is as follows...

    The meaning of a property and the set of legal values for that property are defined in a reference lexicon called a profile.

    The value of that rel="" is determined by the entity that is creating the profile.

    Additional Information

    [edited by: pageoneresults at 4:46 pm (utc) on Jan. 19, 2005]

    blaze




    msg:239947
     3:11 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Holy shmoley!

    You thought you saw Google dance before?

    PageRank everywhere is going to be radically restructured.

    This is going to rewrite the web as we know it.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with Blogs - blogs are a complete red herring here (though maybe, in the future, it will be more important as Blogs become more mainstream)

    Hold onto your hats, folks! We're in for a wild wild wide.

    vabtz




    msg:239948
     3:15 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I am glad they finally did this. its been a serious problem on forums for ages

    in other news i see the tinfoil hat crew came out of the nuclear shelters over this

    Hester




    msg:239949
     3:30 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    rev = link-types
    This attribute is used to describe a reverse link from the anchor specified by the href attribute to the current document. The value of this attribute is a space-separated list of link types.

    Guess that solves the problem of links already using the 'rel' attribute. Just add to it like this:

    rel="home nofollow"

    Er... if that works. (Classes in CSS can be chained this way.)
    Multiple rel attributes cause a validation error.

    D'oh!

    encyclo




    msg:239950
     3:52 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    rel="home nofollow"

    Yes, this should work according to the specifications. It of course remains to be seen whether the syntax is supported by the search engines or whether it could lead to confusion.

    I wonder if there would be support for setting the nofollow attribute for links to alternate content:

    <link rel="alternate nofollow" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS feed" href="/index.rss" />

    pageoneresults




    msg:239951
     4:02 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Multiple rel attributes cause a validation error.

    Just performed a test of this validating against XHTML 1.0 Strict and multiple rel attributes do validate.

    encyclo




    msg:239952
     4:08 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Sorry P1R, I had made a mistake - I was trying to combine multiple rel attributes rather than placing multiple values in one attribute. So,

    <a href="link.htm" rel="nofollow" rel="sponsor">

    Is invalid, whereas:

    <a href="link.htm" rel="nofollow sponsor">

    Is valid.

    Labyrinth




    msg:239953
     4:14 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Honestly, I have difficulty seeing what all the fuss is about.

    To the bloggers who think this is going to fix anything: did turning off html links in posted comments deter spammers from your blog? Didn't mine.

    Button pushing spammers use the shotgun approach, not a smart bomb. For every blogger who uses the new tag, there will still be thousands who don't -- why on earth would spammers stop?

    Now the spammers (and spammers-to-be) KNOW that the SEs give value to blog links -- no more wondering about that.

    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I do believe I'll go turn off comments in my blog.

    whoisgregg




    msg:239954
     4:28 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Now the spammers (and spammers-to-be) KNOW that the SEs give value to blog links -- no more wondering about that.

    Blog links passing value is well known, that's why it's a problem. Plus, "security through obscurity" applies here I think and is a flaky protection scheme.

    People ought to know how much links matter to search engines considering how much search engine results matter to people.

    HughMungus




    msg:239955
     4:44 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Thanks, caveman, I thought you were thinking of something more insidious than what I was thinking.

    OMG, this could radically and negatively change the face of the entire web, since the web no longer has a face except thru the eyes of SE's, for the most part.

    This is the part that fascinates me, but, not what search engines think (which is how it is now) but rather what blog owners/webmasters think.

    HughMungus




    msg:239956
     4:52 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Also this new tag will help only those blogs where the blog is updated by its owner.

    For bloggers running their own software on their own server, yes. For bloggers using a third-party to publish/host, it would be easy. Blogger, for example, could add "no follow" to all comments on every blog it hosts/publishes simply by re-publishing all of them (over time, of course).

    caveman




    msg:239957
     5:10 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    HughMungus, nah I'm just flummoxed over the basic issues here. We can sticky Jake later for the insidious ideas. :-)

    >what all the fuss is about

    Well, for one thing, there ain't been much to talk about for a while. After six slow news months, we finally got something. Say, maybe they're planning a big new update and this is a diversionary tactic. :-)

    My confusion at this early stage centers around the observations/opinions that:
    1) it will do far less than is being suggested WRT cleaning up the problem of blog spam, yet,
    2) it continues the trend of tilting the game in favor of larger sites and SEO's who have the resources and/or skills to to fully leverage this for PR manipulation.

    In other words, on it's face it seems counter to the interests of the SE's.

    Will this new initiative be more effective than it seems?
    Possibly, but it requires awareness, understanding, and broad-based involvement beyond that which might be expected to occur.

    Will this new initiative really tilt things in favor of larger sites and more knowledgeable webmasters?
    I think so. Yes, the points are validly made that various other tactics already exist to fool SE's, link parters, etc. WRT hiding links. But most if not all of these other tactics are at least slightly cumbersome.

    Now, a webmaster has, with the simple use of a sanctioned tag, the ability to manipulate PR with pinpoint accuracy. This tool, in the hands of savvy webmasters with analytical 'button pusher' skills and tools (as covered in Jakes recent threads) give, for the sake of argument - a 10%-15% advantage to those savvy webmasters.

    Your average small website owner simply doesn't have the time, interest or ability to get into that kind of analysis. The word granular has been appropriately used now a few times. That level of SEO will not be widely implemented.

    Sanctioned link cloaking.
    I'm still trying to get my head around this. It seems to create for the SE's far more problems than it solves. Which is why I keep wondering if I'm missing something. Wouldn't be the first time that that happened however.

    Cavemom's favorite joke: Q: "Why is the spinning mouse?" A: "The more he spins, the much."

    insight




    msg:239958
     6:18 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I wonder if DMOZ/ODP would get a little relief if they turned this on.

    I doubt anyone currently using redirects on outbound links (this site included) will replace them with rel="nofollow" attributes. Who would want to give up knowing what links individual users clicked on?

    I agree with some of the sentiment expressed earlier in about "nofollow" being a bad value. I would imagine Google will interpret it as "dontpasspagerank".

    As a side note, there's been a tremendous amount of effort put into controlling 3rd party comments on a site (limiting HTML posts, moderation, banning, etc.). It seems most of these problems would just go away if comments were hosted by the poster and only referenced "backlink:" style to the original page when requested by the reader.

    I've always thought it was kind of silly that browsers don't keep a mailbox-style archive of form POSTs.

    top5jamaica




    msg:239959
     7:25 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    not cool the implications for lin exchanging, thats for sure. now you'll have to be sniffing through page source to ensure that a link exchange webmaster isn't stiffing you

    landmark




    msg:239960
     7:48 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    PageRank everywhere is going to be radically restructured.

    This is going to rewrite the web as we know it.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with Blogs - blogs are a complete red herring here.


    (Quoted by blaze)
    I agree entirely - I think folks are maybe missing the bigger picture. What if DMOZ used this on all its outgoing links? That would cause the biggest change in SERPS ever. What if every Joe Webmaster used it? What the heck would be left for the search engines to index?

    Does anyone agree with this analysis?

    instinct




    msg:239961
     7:58 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Another huge benefit for the SE's:

    The size of their links database has just dropped substantially and therefore the number of calculations needed to determine Pagerank (or similar) has dropped.

    Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what percentage of links on the entire web blog/forum/guestbook links account for?
    (If I had to guess I'd say anywhere from 5-20%... someone more well informed might have a more accurate figure.)

    Now, add in the fact that many webmasters are going to use this attribute in their own internal (and in many cases - external) linking structure. This could account for another 5% (or more?) of the web's total links.

    Regardless, there is a going to be a *HUGE* reduction, in the total number of SE visible links on the web.

    SE updates just got a whole lot quicker/easier.

    Dance Google dance! [Fires gun at floor near Google's feet]

    :-)

    walkman




    msg:239962
     8:50 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    all you people who link with click tracking, 302 generating scripts, PLEASE use this tag! Thank you!

    I wish the SEs would come to a standard on that too. It took all of them just hours to agree on something good.

    webhound




    msg:239963
     8:59 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Good! This will greatly eliminate the bogus blog, etc... forum backlinks and help clean things up a little.

    BigDave




    msg:239964
     9:45 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    What if every Joe Webmaster used it? What the heck would be left for the search engines to index?

    But they aren't going to. Not even everyone that should use it will use it.

    Sure there will be people and sites that abuse it. It's not like you cannot abuse the system in the exact same way right now.

    The majority of the web is produced by people that are scared to even look at HTML, much less do something minor like adding this attribute.

    To get some idea about how many people would use this for any sort of SE advantage, go look around the web and see what percentage of the images have ALT attributes. I suspect that nofollow will be much lower.

    Not to mention, the search engines can certainly evaluate the usage of nofollow on a site and even make that a ranking factor. If things become too bad, they can even decide that they will ignore that nofollow and go ahead and use those links in PR calculations. But I doubt that it will come to that because its usage will be limited.

    jayjay




    msg:239965
     10:09 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

    If the search engines will use site / page context to determine whether or not (or how to) use nofollow, I imagine that largely counteracts the value of nofollow in the first place.

    In other words, if context is required or highly useful, the best indicators of context are not the invisibles on the page like rel attributes (or meta tags), but the human text on the page and the HTML markup that renders page layout since that is what the SERPs will reflect, and is the "product" the engine's customer is looking for.

    I do agree that this context will need to be used: I see nofollow as subtratcing from efforts to make search engines more contextually useful.

    This 135 message thread spans 5 pages: < < 135 ( 1 2 [3] 4 5 > >
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