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nofollow contradiction in google guidelines?
CaptainSalad2




msg:4606379
 11:56 am on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google’s guidelines states

“Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?”

Would I do this if search engines didn't exist”?

Would you use no follow if google didn’t exist?

On the one hand you have google saying you should build for users and not for search engines but on the other they are saying “do this with us in mind or get a penalty”.

With all this fear of linking, can it at all play into googles hands in terms of hurting their competition at all? Could there is a darker undertone here in controlling links in this way that will make other search engines less effective?

 

aakk9999




msg:4606389
 12:37 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yes, it can be confusing. I guess the question could be:

If I put on this link, and the link is and ad, and it makes me money, am I doing it for users?

In this case the answer would be "no" and Google wants such link nofollowed.

On the other hand, if this is the link for your users, you genuinly want to give them more info, then there should be no need to nofollow such link.

Could there is a darker undertone here in controlling links in this way that will make other search engines less effective?

Are wondering whether, now that Google has many other signals perhaps through visitor engagement, their motive is to have as many links as possible nofollowed, so that links makes other search engine algos less effective?

I do not believe this is the reason - and lets try not to go into conspiracy theories. Further, other search engines have choice to ignore nofollow or to selectively ignore nofollow in their algos.

Planet13




msg:4606409
 2:07 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think it's pretty simple.

If the link is intended to gain you money in some way, nofollow it.

If it is intended to manipulate search rankings, then nofollow it.

If the link is intended to tell people what a great site someone has, let it flow page rank.

diberry




msg:4606413
 2:40 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Could there is a darker undertone here in controlling links in this way that will make other search engines less effective?


Hmm, I never thought of it that way. If they use links heavily in their algos, the Google link FUD is indeed going to make a mess of that for them.

On the other hand, if this is the link for your users, you genuinly want to give them more info, then there should be no need to nofollow such link.


Actually, no. They're saying you should disclose TO GOOGLE that it's a paid link. That doesn't benefit visitors at all. The FTC, who actually is concerned about your visitors, requires that you disclose TO VISITORS when a link is paid or affiliate or swapped for free goods. THAT would be building for visitors.

No matter what merits or harmlessness one may see in nofollow, it IS a case of adding code to your site for Google, not for visitors.

If I were Google, I would work with the FTC - they've got a buddy high up in it after all - to create some look or behavior to assign to paid/traded/aff links. This look/behavior would be apparent to both visitors and search engines, so that visitors would actually benefit from knowing it's a paid link and the engines could do as they wish with that info. (Don't freak out: studies have shown that if visitors value your site, they actually choose to click your affiliate link so you'll make money and keep your site going. The trick is, they need to believe you would never link to crap for any reason, paid or otherwise.)

EditorialGuy




msg:4606415
 3:04 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

They're saying you should disclose TO GOOGLE that it's a paid link. That doesn't benefit visitors at all.


On the contrary: The use of "nofollow" on paid links helps to discourage manipulation of search rankings by site owners who have money to spend on SEO. That, in turn, helps to ensure a better search experience for users.

rainborick




msg:4606419
 3:30 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think Planet13's post puts it well, although for completeness I would include the original purpose of rel="nofollow": user generated links, as outlined in the January 2005 post announcing Google's support. I think it's important to remember that all of the major search engines soon joined in supporting it, and they all continue to support it to this day.

Using links as a ranking factor predates Google, it's just that Google's method of differentiating the value of individual links (ie. "PageRank") was a game-changer. After that, all of the search engines refined their use of links, but links are still a universal ranking factor. And that's why they all have always had guidelines prohibiting artificial links, and why they all support rel="nofollow".

If you accept that reducing the impact of artificial links improves the quality of search results everywhere, then it is worthwhile for Google and the other search engines to try to discover those links and sometimes adjust the rankings of websites that employ them in violation of their guidelines. Then, too, it is also beneficial to users to give webmasters a simple tool that allows them to have paid ads, user-generated content, and other features on their websites without risking their rankings or negatively impacting the SERPs.

Planet13




msg:4606438
 4:44 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

No matter what merits or harmlessness one may see in nofollow, it IS a case of adding code to your site for Google, not for visitors.


Yes, it's google's ball, and if you want to keep getting free traffic from google, you gots to play by google's rules.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to getting free traffic from google should one be so inclined.

Unfortunately, they just don't produce nearly the ROI that free traffic from the most popular search engine does :(

ken_b




msg:4606439
 5:02 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

If I put on this link, and the link is and ad, and it makes me money, am I doing it for users?

I'll just point out that ads making money for the publisher and also being good for the user experience are not mutually exclusive.

.

martinibuster




msg:4606441
 5:38 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Would you use no follow if google didn’t exist?


I get what you mean, that it's a seeming discrepancy, but in the larger scheme of things, it's a quibble, not a smoking gun. Nofollow has context for web publishers who wish to participate in having their site spidered and indexed by Google.

You are either in or you are out. You can't be both. If you choose to be in then you have to understand the rules, such as using nofollow for advertising.

On the one hand you have google saying you should build for users and not for search engines but on the other they are saying “do this with us in mind or get a penalty”.


If you use eBay you are obligated to obey their rules. Don't like the rules? Open up a brick and mortar. eBay is not Commerce. Similarly, Google is not the Internet. It is one company with it's own ecosystem of site users, just like eBay, Facebook, and Yahoo. You are either in or you are out. Your choice.

Google is not the Internet. You are free to play by your own rules.

With all this fear of linking, can it at all play into googles hands in terms of hurting their competition at all? Could there is a darker undertone here in controlling links in this way that will make other search engines less effective


The answer is no. The nofollow attribute was introduced with the cooperation and participation of MSN and Yahoo. Here is the announcement. [googleblog.blogspot.com] All the major blog software companies were on board with the initiative from the very beginning. Again, read the link I provided so that you can gain a historical perspective on the actual origins of nofollow.

[edited by: martinibuster at 6:24 pm (utc) on Aug 31, 2013]

lucy24




msg:4606489
 11:03 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

“Would I do this if search engines didn't exist”?

Would you use no follow if google didn’t exist?


That's meaningless. It's like asking "Would you install screens if you didn't have windows?" or possibly "If you worked at home, would you drive to work or ride your bike?" Or, for that matter, "Should I use Drupal, Joomla or WordPress?" The user doesn't see, doesn't know, and has no reason to care.

If a page has thousands of links, then the "nofollow" attribute will have a tiny effect on users because all those extra words in the html might add a millisecond or two to page-load time. But it's still less than the weight added by, say, a WYSIWYG editor that does everything using inline styles.

diberry




msg:4606491
 12:09 am on Sep 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

The use of "nofollow" on paid links helps to discourage manipulation of search rankings by site owners who have money to spend on SEO. That, in turn, helps to ensure a better search experience for users.


How do? Nofollow has been built into CMSs for years, and yet if you run a site using a popular one, you will get dozens of spam comments left every day. I don't think it's discouraging a thing. That may well have been Google's thinking, but I just don't see that it's what's actually happening.

I'll just point out that ads making money for the publisher and also being good for the user experience are not mutually exclusive.


Thank you! If you care about your users, you do not play games with their trust. That means NEVER linking to anything, for any reason, with any tag, unless it's of value to them.

graeme_p




msg:4606559
 9:50 am on Sep 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

The spammy SEOs current sales pitch is that you need nofollowed links to make your link profile look natural to Google.

Nofollow has failed. The way to deal with spammy comments is to remove them.

Google would have been better off either developing auto detection of spammy comments further, or penalising sites that fail to remove spam (surely failing to remove spam is an indicator of low quality?).

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