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"nofollow" links, PageRank, and authority
EditorialGuy




msg:4596599
 1:22 am on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

We get at least several unsolicited links a week from the largest information site in our sector. Usually the links are in forum posts, placed there by moderators or topic "experts" who direct members to our articles in response to questions.

Trouble is, the links are "nofollow," which means we have probably 1,500 or more links from this site and its international subsidiaries that aren't giving us a drop of PageRank.

Is it possible that we're getting any other benefits (other than direct referrals) from those links? Or is Google just ignoring links from the megasite in question, from Wikipedia, etc. altogether? If the latter is true, then one has to wonder what value links have as "citations" (the pre-PageRank role of links) or "votes" (Google's current view of links). Are millions, or perhaps billions, of genuine citations being banished to oblivion while an equal number (or more) are mere currency for reciprocal linking and link selling or buying?

 

Planet13




msg:4596942
 4:22 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Don't short change John Mueller. He does much more outreach than Matt, just with a much lower profile.


Agreed. His videos are a must watch if you are concerned about penalties, links and the disavow tool.

Planet13




msg:4596943
 4:30 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Getting back again to the ORIGINAL questions, there are discussions that flare up in the link development forum here about linkless citations. Pretty much most of the long time people who contribute heavily to that thread suggest that there seems to be some benefit to getting even a mention of your URL, even when it isn't linked.

We know that the algo is tremendous at understanding language, so I wouldn't be too surprised if even the mention of a site, or a personality, in proximity to certain topics, would help associate that site or personality.

diberry




msg:4596962
 5:56 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

- If millions of nofollow links from Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, and other megasites or corporate sites aren't affecting the link graph, then why does Google worry so much about paid links (which presumably would be easy to detect and neutralize if used on a scale that was big enough to influence the link graph)?


This is almost unrelated, but you just got me thinking: is this why Google can't simply "ignore" links it suspects were bought or bargained for? Is it that no-follow links actually do have some positive effect on the link graph, and effectively "no-following" paid links wouldn't fully disable their effects?

Robert Charlton




msg:4596978
 8:21 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

...why Google can't simply "ignore" links it suspects were bought or bargained for?

diberry - On a great many paid links, Google did that for a long time. It's clear that Google eventually came to feel there needed to be a punitive aspect to paid link exploits it considered sufficiently spammy, or else there would be nothing to discourage link buying.

It anything, I fault Google for not applying penalties earlier, as I think the assumed permissiveness left many link buyers believing that there would be no negative consequences. Thus, some of the confusion now. I'm assuming that Google waited until it believed it had a reasonable handle on false positives.

The above said, I was not happy with nofollow when it was introduced (by the three major engines), as I felt it was dangerous to mess with the ecology of the web. Given the blog comment spam situation, though, it's likely that the engines had no choice. I'm sympathetic to those not getting link credits for editorial links.

Google's change to counting nofollowed links in the denominators of PageRank calculations... effectively turning nofollowed links into PageRank black holes... was IMO intended to reduce PageRank hording via nofollow on existing links. But...

a) I don't think that everybody got the word that you lose PR on the nofollowed links... and...

b) some sites (like Wikipedia, I assume), nofollow their outbound links to reduce the motivation of spam and probably not to horde link juice. I suspect, though, that dofollow links from Wikipedia would provide such a strong boost that editors would be even more reluctant to allow them than they are now.

With regard to the original post...
...we have probably 1,500 or more links from this site and its international subsidiaries that aren't giving us a drop of PageRank

It's unlikely that Google would count the 1,500 as anything close to 1,500 if they were treated as dofollows. Even with freely given editorial links and not sitewides, I'll venture a guess that Google dampens the effects of multiple editorial links from a domain or from an IP, though perhaps not as deeply as with run-of-site links that are not editorial links.

Regarding citations... beyond eyeball moments and traffic, citations could potentially have a co-occurrence effect via phrase-based indexing, and it's likely that this effect would be stronger on high authority pages. There are a great many issues involved here, though, which I doubt that Google has solved.

I speculated a bit about some of those issues in this thread from 2010 [webmasterworld.com...] ...and I'd say much the same now.

The question of nofollow links brings up a lot of side issues... and I don't think that nofollowed links are simply being followed and they're not telling us. It's possible though, that, in the proper form and context, which would need to go just beyond keyword anchor text, nofollow citations might also be a factor in this kind of hypothetical social algorithm.

There have been discussions on WebmasterWorld about how effective social traffic is. Whether or not there is a direct algorithmic factor, social buzz, at the least, leads to traffic which might lead to long lasting links which can carry weight or trust.

diberry




msg:4597030
 3:46 pm on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

The above said, I was not happy with nofollow when it was introduced (by the three major engines), as I felt it was dangerous to mess with the ecology of the web. Given the blog comment spam situation, though, it's likely that the engines had no choice. I'm sympathetic to those not getting link credits for editorial links.


Yeah, I've always suspected even Google considers nofollow a blunt instrument trying to do the job of a surgical knife. I think netmeg summed it up nicely - they didn't think it all the way through when they started out, and then when links turned into an economy, this was their response. I dislike it too, but I'll admit I'm not sure what the better response would have been.

atlrus




msg:4597034
 4:00 pm on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is it possible that we're getting any other benefits (other than direct referrals) from those links?


Sure, two big ones come to mind right away - those links are still passing juice on other search engines and other bloggers/website owners may find your website as useful and link to you with a normal links.

On a side note, I was pretty POed about the "nofollow" but now that I see how it's used by nearly everyone - I love it. For those of us who dab into buying links, it has increased the return tenfold and more. If you think about it - your website getting natural, yet nofollow, links is going nowhere, while I, by purchasing even 1 link (dofollow, of course), guarantee myself a better placement than you :) Google's spam team is a joke.

dethfire




msg:4597036
 4:09 pm on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

@atlrus exactly, all it does is intensify the reward for a successful black hat link scheme

Robert Charlton




msg:4597052
 6:22 pm on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sure... those links are still passing juice on other search engines...

For the record, all of the major search engines support the rel="nofollow" attribute and were involved in the initiative from early on. There are some differences, I believe, in whether the individual engines actually follow the link when they spider (Google says it does not), but the current major engines... Google/Bing/Yahoo... do not pass ranking credit for nofollowed links.

Planet13




msg:4597075
 7:41 pm on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ dethfire:

@atlrus exactly, all it [creating nofollow protocol] does is intensify the reward for a successful black hat link scheme


Which is why I believe google has implemented penalties / algo slaps for inorganic links.

As they say, in the land of the blind (nofollow links) the one-eyed man (paid dofollow links) is King.

But then again, what does that make a high-authority natural dofollow link?

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