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Perishable Press

Repenting of My Nofollow Sins

Hello, my name is Jeff and I am nofollow addict.

When I first began Perishable Press two years ago, in August of 2005, WordPress quickly became my blogging platform of choice. Everything about WordPress was great, so I had no trouble overlooking a few seemingly insignificant quirks, such as the nofollow attributes that are automatically applied to all comment links. In fact, at first, I really had no idea what they were or how they affected my site.

Eventually, as I began delving deeper into the Blogosphere, I realized that those harmless-looking nofollow tags were considered by many to be detrimental to the livelihood of the blogging community and its way of life. The arguments against nofollow and the reasoning behind the “no nofollow” movement resonated well with my sense of social equity on the Internet.

The more I looked into the nofollow issue, the more opposed I became to the idea of default WordPress installations generating nofollow links by default. In fact, after arming myself with as much information as possible, I made haste to jump on the anti-nofollow bandwagon and publicly regurgitated the arguments against the implementation of nofollow links.

Unfortunately, after cathartically posting my “nofollow sucks” rant, I quickly forgot about the nofollow issue. Although I had intended to follow through (so to speak) and remove all traces of nofollow links from my site, I never actually got around to it. Once in awhile, as time went on, I would pause for a moment while surfing through cyberspace and think, “Wow, I really need to remove those lame nofollow links from my site..”

At least, that’s what I want you to think. Perhaps a more accurate honest confession would reveal my secret obsession with nofollow attributes. My selfish desire to see my site ranked well in the search engine results led me away from my own rational nofollow opposition. Even though I understood that penalizing commentators with nofollow links was unjust, I gave in to the dark side and continued with their use.

And it gets worse. With each passing comment, I felt like I was living a double life. It was like, I wanted to encourage comments, but my shameless lust for PageRank prevented me from passing the juice. “My Precioussss..” comes to mind. Eventually, I completely ignored my better “dofollow” inclinations and, in utter depravity, began nofollowing every external link I could find — within comments, posts, ..everywhere.

For this, I am sorry. In my selfish greed, I have robbed many a worthy site from receiving its well-deserved dofollow linkage. Not that Perishable Press is PR 7 or anything, but its the thought — the principle — that is so important. I can only imagine how disgusted other bloggers must have been to have seen a new link to their article, only to discover that the link had been slapped with an insulting nofollow attribute. — I am so ashamed! :(

Fortunately, my readers have been more than patient with me. The persistence with which people continue to visit, read, and even comment has helped me to see the light. Rather than completely dump Perishable Press for a site that doesn’t diss its commentators and resources, readers have chosen to stay loyal. Now that I have realized this, I am compelled to repent of my nofollow sins. The long, dark night is finally over..

Thus it is, from this point on, Perishable Press completely embraces the “you comment, I follow” philosophy. I simply love reading your comments, pingbacks, and trackbacks, and want to encourage them as much as possible. I want this site to come alive in community activity and dialogue. Of course, external links within posts, notes, and references will also be followed. The only exception to this sitewide “external dofollow” policy involves obvious spam comments and post links to truly questionable sites. Otherwise, all external links will now share the love and pass the juice! ;)

Epilogue

Am I being just a tad too dramatic about this whole thing? Probably. But that shouldn’t detract from the importance of sharing link equity with people and sites that contribute, either actively or passively, to your site. The open-source community thrives on mutual reciprocity and the selfless distribution of ideas, resources, and help. By hoarding link equity for selfish reasons, bloggers exclude themselves from the very community that enables their existence.

To be fair, it should be said that I have been following post links and references for several months now. There are many fully functional, dofollow links within recent articles, and the remaining distribution of nofollow links will be repaired as soon as possible. Although I remain concerned about PageRank, SEO, and all of that, I want to retain a sense of integrity, transparency, and fairness as the site continues to evolve. Having said that, I would like to thank you for your continued interest in Perishable Press — I look forward to sharing, learning, and hearing from you in the future. God bless.

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Web Developer. Book Author. Secretly Important.
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9 responses
  1. Rick Beckman September 3, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

    Excellent, Jeff! Not three hours ago I was installing Semiologic’s “DoFollow” plugin on a couple WordPress installations I run. Today’s the day to follow!

  2. Jeff Starr

    Yes indeed! In the process of making the switch, I became familiar with some core WordPress functionality and learned several new tricks to boot. The next series of posts will share a few useful WordPress hacks as well as additional nofollow/dofollow information. Today is a great day to follow, indeed!

  3. What a great article. I’ve always hated the no follow tags. I believe the net’s big enough for all websites… i mean, i guess in the real world we’re taught to be weary of competition…but the net’s big enough for you and all competition combined.

    As for spam, the no follow tags do nothing to prevent them. All they do is prevent google from counting them in the ranking process. As if i’d really sit there and let my blog become littered with spam…i use 3-4 other plug ins to manage/control/prevent spam so the no follow plug in is absolutely pointless.

    What wordpress really needs to do is to create an off switch for the no follow tag. I mean, have the no follow tag function on by default, but be able to switch it off in the options panel.

  4. Jeff Starr

    Thank you for the great comment, lilah, you really made my day. You are absolutely correct about WordPress needing a built-in feature empowering users to make their own decision regarding nofollow attributes. It certainly would be simple enough for the WP peeps to do. Either way, I keep a very close eye on comments as well, and feel very comfortable disabling nofollow links. I finally got fed up with trying so hard to compete with everybody else.. I enjoy blogging for its own sake ;)

  5. You were not too dramatic. Nofollow Monstrosity (404 link removed 2016/01/21) is.

    Anyhow, I use one simple rule when nofollowing: I google a page for relevant keyphrase, and if it’s near the top, i put nofollow as it doesn’t need it. If I cannot find it, I link to it. As I don’t update my site often, this does not take too much time or effort.

    Bottom line: why linking to something anyone can find easily in Google!

  6. Jeff Starr

    Interesting approach, Lazar! Thank you for sharing with us. May I ask which plugin or method you employ for the selective removal of nofollow attributes?

  7. I selectively put nofollow tags on my main site that has no framework or plugins, just plain old HTML and PHP.

    For WordPress blog however, I made ‘Nofollow Reciprocity’ plugin where users can add bad websites to an existing list that includes Blogger, Wikipedia, StumbleUpon, Youtube, Delicious, and others. On above post, click on link ‘Nofollow Monstrosity’ and you will find links to these plugins, and more details about the effect these social sites are having on the search engine rankings. Due to nofollows, Internet is becoming less friendly and interlinked, and much more ‘stingy’ place, where people think to whom to link, and whether they will get something in return. Instead of simply linking to other sites you like, now you think how it affects your site’s PR and rankings.

    Most users learn about new sites by searching for things. Now this monopoly of search rankings is appearing. In addition, instead of putting links on our sites, we use more and more stumbles and tags etc. on these few big sites. Effectively, ‘natural’ way of interlinking is becoming extinct. I am dramatizing, but the problem is very real. I am doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a while, and have noticed changes.

    I really think that people should do something about it. It takes only few minutes to update sites and blogs with ‘nofollowed’ bookmark buttons.

  8. Jeff Starr

    Yes, your article points out several important reasons why we should all be rethinking our dofollow linking strategy, especially when it comes to linking to social-networking sites. Bloggers should be sharing their hard-earned link equity directly with other bloggers, not throwing it away on mega-networking/link-sharing content farms. Such sites are exploiting the resources of bloggers and monopolizing the search engine rankings for positions that rightfully belong to us! This seems like a such a no-brainer to me, as I have nofollowed such social-networking links for many months now. It really is one of the simplest improvements one can make to preserve pagerank for their site. Thanks for sharing ;)

  9. Not all instances of nofollow are bad, but articles that you link to that aren’t on megabuck websites who don’t need your paltry juice anyway certainly are deserving of a little love.

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