(for people who don’t know, ‘nofollow’ is a word inside a link telling search engine not to give any credit to that link. why would anyone use it? to discourage spam.)
Many people wrote about this topic, but I want to focus on something that others did not dedicate enough attention to.
People increasingly use social sites, and sites that are built by user contributions. There are so many great things that resulted from this (one of my favorite reference sources is Wikipedia which is built by millions of users). However, there are some serious consequences caused by the introduction of ‘nofollow’ that many people are not aware of.
- Internet is rapidly going thru a PageRank concentration process (equivalent to real world capitalization where few people own most capital). PageRank is a very important factor that Google uses in determining where your site will rank when someone searches for relevant words. (why care about Google? 70% of searches are done with Google.) PageRank roughly tells how many other sites link to yours, and therefore how ‘important’ is your site. How is this PageRank capitalization happening? Many people link to social sites from their blogs and websites, and they rarely put ‘nofollow’ on their sites. Most social sites, on the other hand, started putting by default ‘nofollow’ on all external links. Consequence? For example, bookmark your new site ‘example123.com’ at ‘stumbleupon.com’. If you google for ‘example123′, stumbleupon.com page about it (with no content but the link and title) will be on top, while your site (with actual content) that you searched for will be below. Imagine what effect this PageRank capitalization has when you search for things other than your domain name!
- Each site and blog owner is contributing to this unknowingly and voluntarily. Do any of these look familiar? Most blogs and sites have at least few of these on almost every single page. Not a single one of these buttons has ‘nofollow’, meaning that people give a very good chunk of their site’s importance to these social sites (hint: importance that you give to these buttons is importance taken away from other internal links on your site). Most of social sites however, do have ‘nofollow’ on a link pointing back to peoples sites after users link to them for being good. Conclusion, people give them a lot of credit on almost every page, while these sites give nothing in return. (Two ‘good’ sites among these, that I know of, are Digg that does not have ‘nofollow’, and Slashdot that tries to identify real spam and puts ‘nofollow’ on those links only. There are probably few more.)
- This can be easily prevented, and PageRank can be re-distributed, in no time! Solution is very simple. ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.‘ If you have a WordPress blog (as millions of internet users do), download plugins Antisocial and Nofollow Reciprocity. First one puts ‘nofollow’ on above buttons, second puts ‘nofollow’ on all external links pointing to ‘bad’ sites. If you are using some other blogging application, try to find similar nofollow plugins. Otherwise, or if you have a regular site, you can download Social Bookmark Buttons with Nofollow.
Note: PageRank and site importance explanations above are very simplified, but are good enough to backup the argument made in the article.