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I No Follow

January 25th, 2005 · No Comments · Internet

Google has added support for non-standard attribute for hyperlinks called “No Follow”. It allows a site to add this attribute to hyperlinks to let Google know not to factor the link into page rank equations. In order words, you can mark a link as having no “Google Juice.” You do this by adding rel="nofollow" to the link.

The stated intention of this by Google is “preventing comment spam.” But frankly, this is really only a possible secondary effect, and that effect will be minor. The real goal of this attribute is to improve Google’s indexes.

This is because people who comment spam are generally stupid, ineffective weasels. I can say this because I’ve seen plenty of comment spam that has links to non-functional web sites, and you can’t get more ineffective than that. Comment spammers may have a vague idea that posting lots of links on lots of different site might somehow make them show up better on Google, but they also realize they may just get some clicks from the spam comments themselves. Even if you eliminate the possibility of improved search result ranking, you still may get some clicks from the original spam comments. Both things, better rankings and more clicks, are more likely to come about the more places you post spam, so…

Since comment spamming is already hugely ineffective yet massively widespread, I have no reason to believe comment spammers are suddenly going to say “Ah, you got me with this clever attribute, so I’ll call it quits now.” What will happen, though, is smart, technically savvy, idealistic web developers will dutifully insert the no follow attribute into all links in any areas of their sites that are user created and possibly untrusted. After all, no savvy web administrator wants to help out dirty rotten spammers even a tiny bit.

But really, all we’ve done is make comment-spamming marginally less useful. But now Google has gotten all those smart, technically savvy, idealistic web developers to help clean up their indexes. But we will still be getting assloads of comment spam to sites that don’t even work.

Not to say that we all don’t benefit from Google having a cleaner, more accurate index. I do think this is a good thing, but let’s not kid ourselves that this is really going to reduce comment spam at all.

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