The Death of NoFollow

One of the central pillars of SEO until now has been the html “nofollow” tag. It is used to direct “link juice” to flow where you want it to. Many people in SEO (including myself) are liberal users of this tag. It ties in with the whole PageRank debate and whether PageRank is relevant anymore.

You know what a “nofollow” tag looks like… <a href=”…” rel=”nofollow”… >. It is a signal to a search engine spider that it must not leave the site to check out that link. The tag has been used for things like affiliate links, links to authority sites like wikipedia (on the theory that they have enough PageRank) and comments on blogs.

I have been wrestling with this issue for some time… now that the web is changing, with Web 2.0 being the way of the future, perhaps the heyday of “nofollow” is at an end. At the very least, I think that it should occupy a much lesser role than it has.

The web and SEO is shifting away from former strongholds, such as just trying to get first ranking on Google, to being focussed on traffic… alone… That’s a big step, because all of a sudden your strategy has to change from on-page optimization to off-page, when it comes to links. The strategy must at least consider the wealth of traffic available from sites like digg.com, stumbleupon.com, del.icio.us, etc.

The entire purpose of the internet is to connect, whether to connect sites, people, places or things. The “nofollow” tag disrupts the connection of sites to give the webmaster more control over the flow of search engine traffic.

As a result, I have decided that I am no longer going to use “nofollow” tags in my links. The decision was triggered today when I realized that using “nofollow” is a “scarcity mentality”, rather than an “abundance mentality”. Sure, you can argue that there really is only so much PageRank coming into the page, so a scarcity mentality is justified, but that is taking too narrow a view of the page.

By leaving off the “nofollow” tag, people are more likely to appreciate it when you link to them. What are they going to do about it? In today’s web 2.0 world, if you have quality content, it is very possible that such a person would digg your page, add it to del.icio.us, stumbleupon it, etc, which is going to boost your traffic. Why wouldn’t they? A portion of any boost in traffic or PageRank they give to your page is going to flow through to theirs.

At the very least, using the “nofollow” tag is becoming redundant. The question remains whether it will become counter-productive…

Could this, then, be the death of the “nofollow” tag?

Check out what the rest of the world thinks…

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