bouncybunny - 2:34 am on Aug 16, 2010 (gmt 0)
I rarely go to Yahoo and check the "linkdomain:" inlinks to my main sites - I've usually better things to do.
However, after a while of not doing so, I have just had a shock. A huge percentage of links that were once ordinary static html inbound links, have now changed to either rel="nofollow, or work via some kind of 302 redirect mechanism. Some go even further and direct to a preliminary site exit page with a message along the lines of "You are now leaving our site...".
The worrying point is not that this may happen on blog links, or forums (legitimate use of the rel="nofollow tag IMO). But rather, this seems to have happened mainly with links from edited and 'controllable' content on huge 'authority' sites - major broadcasters, news agencies and so on.
It's hard to know how much of this is intentional on the part of the websites themselves (for SEO or anti-link rot purposes) and how much is simply the result of changing practices by the people who develop content management systems. But either way, it seems to me that, in many cases, the default practice now is to discount outbound links.
This asks a few questions, including how Google and others see this practice. Does a 5 year link to a site which changes to a 'nofollow' indicate that the site is no longer trusted? What about if dozens of these links change over the course of a couple of years?
This perhaps being the case, I am considering changing all outbound links on my sites to rel="nofollow. This is not simply a petulant act of 'retaliation', I'm bigger than that. But I'm wondering if new web 'standards' are emerging (perhaps by default, rather than practice?), and if it is simply common sense to follow suit? Indeed, I am worried that *not to do so* will render my sites non-standard?