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This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39 ( [1] 2 > >     
"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?

 

aristotle




msg:4596736
 1:55 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've complained about this same problem myself (can't find the thread -- it was several years ago). It's just another example of how flawed Google's ranking system has become.

netmeg




msg:4596737
 2:05 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Probably. Google created this big link economy, but they obviously didn't think it through to its logical conclusion, and now all of us (including Google) are suffering for it.

martinibuster




msg:4596748
 2:46 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is it possible that we're getting any other benefits...


Yes, absolutely yes. They're indirect benefits. It's good for business anytime your URL and brand name is trotted out in front of thousands of eyeballs in a positive manner.

Are millions, or perhaps billions, of genuine citations being banished to oblivion...


Not really, the actual number is surprisingly low. I asked Matt Cutts about this several years ago and he said that no-follows are not distorting the link graph. He told me the percentage, but I can't remember it exactly, but it's really small, something really small. He later stated it publicly somewhere else.

The bubble the SEO industry needs to get out of is constantly thinking about direct benefits. ROI and the ability to track a ton of data has put the industry in a bubble that grossly overlooks indirect benefits.

dethfire




msg:4596753
 3:16 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am also stating this opinion. With the confusion of where and when to use nofollow with the uneven adoption rate, there is no way it is effective. If anything it does more damage than good. I'm at the point where I'm going to nofollow everything. Is that what google wants? I doubt it. Google either needs to spell out exactly what they want or stop playing games. Creating complex and confusing penalties with almost no communication is hurting the good guys more than the bad guys.

dethfire




msg:4596759
 3:19 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

@martinibuster several years ago no one cared about nofollow because Google wasn't dishing out confusing animal penalties. Talk to Matt today and I bet the distortion is a lot more murky.

EditorialGuy




msg:4596765
 3:38 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I asked Matt Cutts about this several years ago and he said that no-follows are not distorting the link graph.


several years ago no one cared about nofollow because Google wasn't dishing out confusing animal penalties. Talk to Matt today and I bet the distortion is a lot more murky.


Dethfire (second quote) makes a good point.

I also wonder if "distortion of the link graph" (or the lack thereof) might not vary by sector. In our own case, where the "nofollowing" site that inspired my post is a hugely influential megasite (and our #3 link source), it's hard not to think that 1,500+ nofollowed links to highly targeted pages don't represent a missed opportunity both for us and the accuracy of Google's algorithm.

Planet13




msg:4596771
 4:03 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

There are a couple of times where Matt Cutts has, citing wikipedia's nofollow link policy, lamented that it would be nice for them to change some of the links that they [wikipeida] trust to flow page rank.

However, I would not say the 1,500+ plus links are a COMPLETE missed opportunity for page rank. In theory, other people will discover your site through those nofollowed links and will link to your site - hopefully with do follow liks.

~~~~

It would be interesting to see the rates at which nofollow and do follow links are generated as more and more people use soclia media in lieu of things like blogs or other types of sites.

If facebook were to launch a feature that allowed for longer blog pages, how much of a dent would that put a SERIOUS dent into the number of wordpress, blogspot, blogger, instagram users?

And what if all those outgoing links were nofollowed (if I remember correctly, aren't all facebook abound links nofollowed?)

dethfire




msg:4596776
 4:24 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Planet thanks for reminding me about wiki. If wiki nofollows everything even in a moderated environment, well, I guess I should join the club.

@EditorialGuy I feel you. I looked at my backlinks via moz.com link tool and I have a TON of backlinks with nofollow from some very nice sites. I gotta believe some of those should be follow. Most people are just covering their butts these days.

Planet13




msg:4596792
 4:55 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well, I wasn't particularly suggesting that.

Wiki does nofollow all outgoing links, and apparently it doesn't HURT their rankings.

But I would use a link as an editorial vote - which is what google WISHES we would all do. If you like / love a site, give them a vote with a do follow link.

Don't give them a link JUST to return a favor, or manipulate page rank, etc.

netmeg posted in another thread that she gives out dofollow links to sites that she thinks would be useful to the visitors to HER page. That's probably what google wishes all web owners would do.

I've been around long enough to remember when people had small personal sites on geocities and tripod and whatnot that looked like carp, with blinking graphics and scrolling text and an obvious dearth of optimization.

Those sites would often have a page like: "Other sites I love" and would link out to, um, other sites that they loved.

I think that is what google wishes web site owners would do: link out to other sites that you love.

aristotle




msg:4596793
 4:55 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Evidently in Google's view, a dofollow link from some obscure personal blog should count for more than a nofollow link from the NY Times or Harvard University.

EditorialGuy




msg:4596803
 5:28 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

netmeg posted in another thread that she gives out dofollow links to sites that she thinks would be useful to the visitors to HER page.


Yep, same here. A link is a way to direct users to a more comprehensive (or, in some cases, an official) source of information on a topic. If you're writing an article about your favorite childhood comic books and you mention Little Dot, it would make sense to link to a detailed Web page about Little Dot (as opposed to writing a history of the Little Dot comic books yourself).

Evidently in Google's view, a dofollow link from some obscure personal blog should count for more than a nofollow link from the NY Times or Harvard University.


For that matter, a purchased link from a second-rate directory counts for more than a nofollowed NY Times or Harvard University link (at least until the link seller or buyer gets caught).

EditorialGuy




msg:4596825
 6:06 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Two more thoughts:

- 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)?

- It seems to me that Google made a mistake when it told site owners to use "nofollow" for ads and paid links. It might have been better to create a new tag (say, "ad" or "paid") to distinguish such links from nofollowed blog links, Wikipedia links, etc. that might have value to a search engine. (Google might not want to follow a "nofollow" link, but I can imagine a scenario where Google could find a relevant nofollow link from Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, etc. useful as a citation even if the link didn't pass PageRank.)

dethfire




msg:4596827
 6:15 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

@EditorialGuy +1 nofollow is far too broad

Planet13




msg:4596832
 6:52 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think that google is pretty content (for now) with the concept that nofollow links will still generate traffic to the target site. And if that traffic that DOES go though to the site then finds that site useful (and they in turn create their own do follow links), so much the better.

7_Driver




msg:4596835
 7:23 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

From a purely selfish point of view - why give a followed link - unless you're being paid or otherwise rewarded?

Google says build your websites for users not for search engines. Well guess what - nofollowed links work perfectly well for users! - and they don't expose you to the risks of linking to a website that Google doesn't like - or becomes a bad neighbourhood in the future.

EditorialGuy




msg:4596837
 7:46 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

From a purely selfish point of view - why give a followed link - unless you're being paid or otherwise rewarded?


Simple. If everyone used "nofollow" for legitimate links, the linked sites would be ignored by search engines, the quality of search results would go downhill, searchers would spend less time searching, and sites that rely on organic traffic (as nearly all information sites do) would lose readership and revenue.

Planet13




msg:4596843
 8:30 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

EXACTLY!

You can sit there and say, "Up Yours, google! I'm only doing nofollow outbound links."

But the person you are really hurting is the little guy or gal who really NEEDS those links.

~~~~~`

Maybe if there was a giant conspiracy of webmasters that from now on would only use nofollow links for quality sites and use dofollow lins for REAAALLLYYY bad sites, then google might change the algo, but that would take a very big pool of webmasters linking out to lots of sites.

netmeg




msg:4596845
 8:41 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

For some people who just don't want to have to think about it, it makes more sense to use nofollow everywhere.

For other people who just don't want to have to think about it, it makes more sense to use follow everywhere (except ads and affiliate links)

I'm in the latter category, but there's nothing wrong with being in the former.

Again - *distractions*. Spend time on your own agenda, not Google's.

austtr




msg:4596847
 8:49 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

complex and confusing penalties with almost no communication is hurting the good guys more than the bad guys


... and creating a huge reservoir of ill-will. For a company that is totally dependent on the intellectual property of others for their search business, they have an apallingly bad approach to communication and public relations.

dethfire




msg:4596858
 9:33 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

@nutmeg, I was and then I found my traffic cut in half for no apparent reason

martinibuster




msg:4596859
 9:40 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

...for no apparent reason


I've seen a few cases like this, where, aside from anemic links, the reason was not apparent. Nobody could figure out why the site suddenly lost their trafic. I saw another case where, aside from bad site architecture, the reason was not absolutely 100% not apparent, I can vouch for it. Super difficult to put a finger on why the site lost their traffic. :)

Ok, not making light of your situation, but making the point that a loss of traffic that is not apparent can suddenly become apparent.

dethfire




msg:4596861
 9:45 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

@martinibuster that's what I'm talking about. I'm dying for Google to start talking with us. Tell us what you want. Tell us directly where we are going wrong and why you are penalizing us. It's like a slap in the dark and then the lights come on and you just stand there with a bruised cheek wondering, what the hell was that!?

They may not want to talk to everyone. But if you have a good "line of credit" then they need to start talking to us in specifics. That is how you create a better web. Not by slapping people in the dark and then hiding.

rish3




msg:4596868
 10:07 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

For a company that is totally dependent on the intellectual property of others for their search business, they have an apallingly bad approach to communication and public relations.


The only consistent public liaison to webmasters has the title "Head of Google's Webspam team".

jimbeetle




msg:4596875
 10:52 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

The only consistent public liaison to webmasters has the title "Head of Google's Webspam team".

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

7_Driver




msg:4596879
 11:07 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

The total contempt google has for webmasters can be seen by the fact that among 30,000 employees, there is no "head of webmaster liaison".

That role appears to be filled voluntarily by people who work in other capacities.

dethfire




msg:4596882
 11:14 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

exactly, if the head of spam team is the only person communicating random bits then you're doing it wrong. I'm not a spammer. I don't want to talk to head of spam.

netmeg




msg:4596908
 1:32 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Ok well all that would be nice, but it's probably not going to happen with any great clarity, so you are unfortunately going to have to figure out how to work with what we got.

I don't mean to be harsh, but I see this post turning into yet another Google bash item that does nobody any good because it's not going to effect any change on Google's part. GOOGLE IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE FOR OUR SAKES so we need to find a way to work with them, work around them, or go in another direction altogether.

And it's NETMEG. I let it go the first two times, but it's NETMEG.

EditorialGuy




msg:4596914
 1:51 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm dying for Google to start talking with us. Tell us what you want. Tell us directly where we are going wrong and why you are penalizing us.


Secrecy is inevitable (and understandable) in matters that involve penalties for bad behavior.

For matters of quality (what Panda is supposed to address), there's a better case to be made for openness, transparency, or whatever you choose to call it. Trouble is, Google can't be too specific for a few simple reasons: Google's definition of quality is likely to be a work in progress, its scoring and ranking formulas are bound to change as a result of testing and real-life experience, and--just as important--something that might hurt one site's rankings might not hurt another's because a quality score--and the effect of that quality score--are likely to be based on multiple factors.

EditorialGuy




msg:4596932
 3:16 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

OK, I'm returning to the original topic with another question:

If Google doesn't do anything with "nofollowed" links, wouldn't it be convenient if they were identified as such in Webmaster Tools?

This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39 ( [1] 2 > >
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