DoFollow Or NoFollow? That Is The Question

Have you ever thought about how search engines crawl your blog or website? Probably not, me neither. What are DoFollow or Nofollow links?

It wasn’t something I’d thought about until recently and then I started looking into it.

I’m sure you know that search engines have bots that crawl your site but did you know there’s a quota for how much they will search your links?

So it would make sense to make sure they definitely crawl the most important pages on your blog, wouldn’t it?

You don’t want to be leaking link juice all over the place after all. By default, any links in the comments on WordPress are set up as NoFollow.

Although, you can use a WordPress plugin to make them DoFollow if you want to.

What’s this DoFollow and NoFollow all about then?

To combat spam comments and links, Google set up the NoFollow tag (rel=”nofollow”).

It’s designed to prevent Google bots from crawling any links spammers have added to their comments.

Here’s an example of how to set up a NoFollow link:

<a href=”http://tim-bonner.com/” rel=”nofollow”>My Blog</a>

Any link which doesn’t have the NoFollow tag added to it is a DoFollow link. There isn’t a corresponding DoFollow tag.

Whilst DoFollow links are acknowledged and crawled by search engines, NoFollow links generally aren’t.

Allowing DoFollow links can have its advantages and disadvantages. It’s a question of whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Advantages of DoFollow

  • The idea behind having DoFollow links in your comments is to encourage more of them and to give visitors the opportunity to generate backlinks to their blogs.
  • DoFollow blogs tend to attract visitors to your blog out of curiosity, which gives a boost in traffic.
  • It sometimes encourages people to share posts on social networks.

Disadvantages of DoFollow

  • Spammers love DoFollow links and I’m getting more and more of them trying to add a link and I’m spending more time moderating comments.
  • With all the DoFollow links going elsewhere, it could be diluting the authority of my blog.

So what does Google have to say about DoFollow comments? Here’s a short video from Matt Cutts which gives some insight into this.

For me, there’s a few things to consider but I’m keen to keep my blog DoFollow as I think the benefits of increased visitors and more interaction outweigh the negatives.

The amount of spam comments I am receiving has increased over the past few months but with the way I have WordPress set up I can intercept them.

I always require the first comment to be approved before it will appear on my blog. That way, I can moderate things without too much hassle for me or the commenter. After that, any further comments are automatically approved.

It isn’t foolproof but it weeds a lot of the comment spammers out, along with Akismet and GASP.

When is it essential to use NoFollow links?

Google gives some advice on how and when to use NoFollow links on Webmaster Tools, which includes another video from Matt Cutts on the subject.

In particular, Google give specific examples where NoFollow links might be used.

  • Untrusted content: If you don’t trust a particular link in a comment or just don’t want Google to follow the link;
  • Paid Links: If you have affiliate links on your site, Google urge you to make them NoFollow;
  • Crawl Prioritization: If you still have the login link to WordPress on your blog, make this NoFollow and consider removing altogether as this is a security risk.

Amendment – 20 March 2013: I looked into this further following a comment from my friend, Theodore, and WordPress automatically make the Admin and Login links NoFollow if you use the Meta widget. All of the other links on the widget are still DoFollow though (RSS entries and the link to WordPress.org).

To allow Google to crawl other more interesting links on your page, I would also suggest making any links to social media sites NoFollow and if you’re able to, any links to subscribe to your newsletter or email list.

So, over the past few days, I’ve spent my time:

  • Auditing all the comments on my blog and removing links to untrusted content;
  • Making the affiliate links on my blog NoFollow;
  • All links to social media sites are now also NoFollow.

Now, over to you… Is your blog a DoFollow or a NoFollow blog? Can you think of any other advantages or disadvantages of using DoFollow links? Do you make your affiliate links and social media links NoFollow? What other ways do you control how Google bots crawl your site?

I’m really interested to know your thoughts on this and I’d love it if you would leave a comment below to let me know.

P.S. Please share this post with all of your friends if you’re feeling social Smile!

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