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Some nofollow links appear trusted anyway

 12:54 pm on Jul 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

In going through some backlink information in my GWT account I found that several links in Wikipedia are appearing as backlinks. Since I know that wikipedia places nofollow on all outbound links I went looking at other sites with links to my site and found two others with nofollow apparently being ignored.

Question: does google ignore the nofollow tag on some sites that it deems trustworthy?



 6:37 pm on Jul 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've read and heard several Google reps address this. Google always handles every no-follow link as they originally stated: it is dropped from the web graph and no PR or anchor text influence flows.

The WebmasterTools report may show some no-followed links at times. That listing is just for the webmaster's information, but not an indicator of any ranking effect from those links.


 7:03 pm on Jul 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

If Google doesn't use nofollow links, why does it keep records of them?

Possible Answer:
The nofollow links are part of a site's overall link "profile". A naturally-acquired profile will normally have a significant number of nofollow links. But People who "build' links artifically often focus on getting only dofollow links. Google could use the resulting out of balance profile as an indication that artificial link-building has occurred.


 5:42 pm on Aug 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

For my personal opinion I believe google does give weight to certain nofollow links, especially that of wikipedia. They really have no reason no to.

It may have lowered the spam attempts for wikipedia but google knows it's still an authoritative link, and I would think they adjust accordingly, manual or not.


 10:40 pm on Aug 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

They really have no reason no to.

Except for their continually repeated public statements that they do not. Yes, Google has been known to spin things and spread some fog over various issues - but in my memory, they have never stated one thing and intentionally do the exact opposite.

I believe google does give weight to certain nofollow links, especially that of wikipedia

Is this belief on the level of an appealing concept, or do you have data that suggests that it may be happening? Most of the time, links from Wikipedia are already pretty strong pages even without a boost from those no-followed links. Makes it pretty hard to test the idea.


 4:20 am on Aug 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

It was purely speculation and I don't have any hard proof that they give weight to Wikipedia nofollowed links.

I did recognize that when W placed the nofollow links on pages I had W links from, they didn't lose any standing in the SERPS. But that was a long time ago.

Im out of the loop with W but I dont even know why they put nofollow links on their outbounds anyways. If I were Google I'd want those links to get the trust they deserve hence my speculation, no proof though. :(


 4:26 am on Aug 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for clarifying. We have many readers, so it's good to keep brainstorming separated from information of the "harder" variety.


 7:07 pm on Aug 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I agree with TimeTraveller, from purely personal experience. I'm talking only about Wikipedia links.

Nothing absolutely hard and fast to prove it beyond belief, but a link from Wikipedia works wonders as far as I can see.

I understand entirely what tedster says, black and white lies Google doesn't do, grey lies yes. But there is a whole pile of opportunities in semantics.


 8:00 pm on Aug 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Isn't it possible that nofollow links from Wikipedia and other authoritative sites could increase so-called "trust rank"? Or if nothing else, as I mentioned above, couldn't such links make a site's backlink profile look more natural (and therefore more legitimate), thereby indirectly improving its rankings, or at least avoiding penalties? I'm not trying to argue this matter either way, but am just suggesting possibilities.


 10:24 pm on Aug 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

With Wiki being volunteer edited, it's very difficult to get links to a site unless just about everyone agrees that the link is worthwhile. Thus I would suspect that the site being linked to may be viewed as having some authority.


 10:07 am on Aug 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

I used to have a link from a Wiki page to my home page with my main target phrase in the anchor. I could always tell when a competitor had changed the link to their page as I would drop and they would rise. One day a meta editor got interested in the ever more frequent changes and wrote to me telling me to stop. They obviously warned others off as well as the link has not reappeared. I've found a quieter page to put it on now.

Also just a note on internal nofollow links. On my main site I changed the links to admin, copyright etc pages from nofollow to a set of links on a page pulled into an iframe. I did this when Googleguy (sorry Matt Cutts) did his blog post on the subject. Not doing as well now down from #1 to #3 to 5.




 1:07 pm on Aug 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Interesting, Sid. As another data-point, I switched one site from a nofollow to an iframe collection for the utility links and it saw no ranking change at all. That was about 4 months before the news broke from Matt.


 1:28 pm on Aug 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google always handles every no-follow link as they originally stated: it is dropped from the web graph and no PR or anchor text influence flows.

But Google never said that nofollowed links have no influence whatsoever on rankings, which is what we care about, afterall.

For my personal opinion I believe google does give weight to certain nofollow links, especially that of wikipedia.

This is my experience:
In my country, few people publish content in English; that means that it is easy for me to obtain links in wikipedia (my sites have hundreds of links, just a handful of which posted by myself).

Links have very different effects on rankings.

Links in top tier wiki pages (say, the page about my country) have no noticeable effects in rankings. The topic is so broad, that there is little I can add of signficance; my links are usually in the References section, along with hundreds of others; few people click these links.

Links in too specific pages, that hardly anybody visits, have no effect in rankings.

Links in pages with an specific theme and general interest (say, a city which happens to be visited by the Pope and gains the world's headlines) have a noticeable effect in rankings; usually my link is the only one in the External Links section, and is clicked often; over time, my page moves to #2, right after wiki's.
Google sends users to the wiki page, and from there they go to my page; as I provide much more complete information about the topic, users (hopefully) will send Google signs that they benefited from my pages.

It looks like Google attempts to evaluate how much information my page aggregated to wiki's in benefit of the users, and rewards accordingly.

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