28 Dec 2005

Blog Spam part 2 – The Nofollow, friend or enemy?

Blog Spam Part 2
Combating Blog spam with the nofollow tag.

When my blog was set up for me, it came with the nofollow on all links on all usernames and in all comments. Meaning, that for those who make a post, where their name is a link, that link in the eyes of Google it’s invisible because it has the nofollow tag on it.

Not only that, but if you put a link in your post it doesn’t get posted; rather I get an email asking me if I want to approve the post. Most of the time it’s reasonable, sometimes it’s good comments with a few too many links and I edit as I feel at the time, and sometimes it’s a shit post with links in it. But at least I can look at what it is and approve it before I let it get published.

But isn’t the nofollow is unfair.

Why am I having to even put a "nofollow" on my links? Now I know it’s not Google’s fault that I have the code placed everywhere on links out from my blog….but I’m betting that adding the nofollow to everything outgoing is common amoung bloggers.

But…Why shouldn’t my votes be as good as any websites? Just because someone can add thier thoughts, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t count in the eyes of google. What if Graywolf or Sebastian or Rand come in and say something totally relevant and of quality, and within that context there’s a link to a great resource.  This brings me 5 questions I’d like to ask you bloggers:

  1. Isn’t my vote just as good as anywebsite? Why even have the nofollow?
  2. Am I being "duped" into thinking all comments are "real"?
  3. What percentage comments on respected blogs are "real"?
  4. Is the solution to keep the nofollow on everything and then manually go in and remove the nofollow from links you think should count?
  5. or is the solution to remove the nofollow from everywhere, and add the nofollow to links you think shouldn’t count at votes for Google?
  6. If you remove the nofollow will you get even more link spam?
  7. Is it that bloggers are afraid of Google, or the blog spammers?
  8. Is the nofollow our friend or our enemy?

Can you answer me these questions?


  1. Michael Teper December 28, 2005 at 7:50 PM

    i think you’d be hard pressed to make a good case for nofollow on a moderated blog. presumably anything you approve is good enough in your eyes to reside on your site. if so, why penalize links?

  2. graywolf December 28, 2005 at 9:35 PM

    Blogging is supposed to be “easy and fun”web publishing, and this whole comment spam, nofollow thing sucks the fun right out of it. When I used blogger/haloscan I got tops a dozen spam comments a month. when I switched to wordpress I got that many in an hour. Sure it was all premoderated but I had to go in and separate the good from the bad, which was a waste of time and well .. just sucked. I switched to a captcha system, coincidentally the same one Matt uses and the blog spam dropped to the occasional manual link drop. I do have to work on it to make it less characters and all caps. WordPress has this new thing called akismet. As I understand it “phones home” to check on comments and you still have to deal with some manually. I loathe “phone home” stuff so not for me.

    No follow scares off some manual link droppers, but the button pushers don’t care. As far as what comments are “real” well they say “perception is reality” so thats an awfully fuzzy line. Yahoo still seems to be following and crediting nofollow. Google seems to follow it but not credit it (hmm nice subject for another of my case studies). The choice to blanket use or not use nofollow really depends on the number of comments you are getting. Uber bloggers with hundreds of comments would be hard pressed to justify the time, others have to weight the value of the time it takes to moderate.

    I will say this if someone is deciding whether to comment based on the implementation of nofollow, thats probably not a comment you want.

  3. Dave Child December 29, 2005 at 5:38 AM

    “Real” is tricky. I have plenty of comments on my site that are blatantly there for the link. Thing is, they have value as a comment. I tend to weight whether or not comments are spam according to content value – if the commenter has something to say, I’ll add it even if the intent is obviously promotion.

    To stop comment spam … I have several techniques. I keep my comments form on a separate page to the articles (it’s the articles that rank in the serps, not the comment pages), which should make life a little trickier for the automated ones. Comments go to a private RSS feed with a delete button – makes management easier. And there’s a moderation element too – comments are flagged when there’s a link to a specific place (e.g. Bravenet’s URL forwarding domains) or any of the common spam keywords (drugs, gambling and so on) and hidden until I approve them.

    All of which means that the vast majority of comments on my site appear instantly and most spam is filtered and deleted quickly.

    I’ve also been thinking of adding terms and conditions to my site – something saying that comments posted automatically will be billed at a set rate per day. It’ll be interesting to see how many spammers continue after receiving an invoice for advertising!

  4. Sebastian December 29, 2005 at 9:30 AM

    Billing blog spammers is a great idea, followed by an outing page outranking the spammer’s page when they don’t pay in time.

    From all attempts I like the white-list approach best. That is trusted users may post instantly without link condom, and the condom can be pulled from particular comments. Captchas are more or less unavoidable.

  5. Brian Turner December 29, 2005 at 2:39 PM

    Removal of the “no follow” tag in WordPress shouldn’t be difficult at all. If you feel it’s a bad idea, does this mean you’ll be removing it from across your blog, Jim? 🙂

  6. Jim December 29, 2005 at 4:38 PM

    Hum….yes, I’d like to remove the nofollow in one form or another.
    I think I’ve been being a good boy with my link choices in here, and I hope the engines trusts my votes – In the past I’ve had a problem with Google trusting my votes on webuildpages.com, so it’d be great to give some back some well deserved link love. I’d hate to be known as a “PR Hogger”, like I was known for long ago. I’m happy to give credit where credit is due.

    If I remove the nofollow, should I:

    Remove it from both the name link, and to any links in content?
    Or just remove it from the name, and include it in the content?
    or set up some type of “trusted comments level” and those who are deemed “trusted” don’t get the
    Is there a module in wordpress for those options?
    How would you do it?

  7. Jim December 29, 2005 at 6:42 PM

    On another note, I like how on threadwatch they’ve got the link to the most recent comments. Is this some module I could add to my blog? Sometimes conversations start on older posts that would be great if more people could respond to these newer comments on older posts. Anyone with ideas?

  8. Digger December 29, 2005 at 11:31 PM

    The nofollow tag is evil. Not giving credit to people who are helping to build a community on your website is just wrong in my eyes. After I got rid of comment spam (see my comment in the last post on blogspam) I turned nofollow off and rebuilt my site.

    Having trackbacks “inline” of posts, a comments feature that is friendly with spam prevention and having good content are what I attribute to the success of my main website.

    Even a simple barrier like nofollow could turn other bloggers off enough to want to have nothing to do with you.

    PS: I find sites that have their comments in a popup widow or on another page annoying. I’d rather read a post and continue on down to see what others say. Providing just a link to comments is enough of a barrier to users for you to lose probably 90% or more of those who WOULD have commented if it was just easier to do so.

  9. Jim December 29, 2005 at 11:53 PM

    Digger said, “Not giving credit to people who are helping to build a community on your website is just wrong in my eyes”

    And I agree. I will be removing the nofollow soon…soon as I decide on the best way to do it.

  10. Jim Boykin’s Internet Marketing Blog » Blog Archive » Giving the boot to the nofollow. January 1, 2006 at 3:38 PM

    […] After my post on Blog Spam part 2 – The Nofollow, friend or enemy? I’ve decided that the nofollow is no friend of mine. […]

  11. Ian January 3, 2006 at 8:34 AM

    I think the default on some of the blog software is nofollow for people you don’t know, and not to put it in for registered users known by the blog owner.

  12. Paul March 7, 2006 at 1:12 PM

    Personally I prefer commenting on blogs without the no follow attribute, there are only so many comments I can make in a day and if I’m posting a genuine heart felt comment, I prefer to make that investment of time worth while.

  13. Lynn S March 15, 2006 at 11:00 AM

    A lot of people are talking about this wonderful nofollow tag but nobody tells you how to use it. Apparently some blogs do it automatically. B2 doesn’t. I literally get hundreds of spam comments a day. I can’t go through and add nofollow to each spam link.

  14. Tony Hill’s Blog » Blog Archive » SEO - It’s not a game anymore, it’s a battle April 2, 2006 at 8:11 PM

    […] It’s hard to rank on Google these days. What does it take? A lot of SEO’s still seem to buy text links, but Matt Cutts says he can detect that – but Jim says it still works. I guess he’s got a few good tools to do so. I supposed he could if it was a huge network such as local news stations and some Edu’s (if you haven’t noticed theses). Links from directories (articles and links) won’t get you too far… as noted by Aaron. So really, what does it take to rank on Google? I think you literally have to Digg your way out of the sandbox. Submit a press release and hopefully a great article that people will want to link to. Make a tool… do something. Gone are the days of just throwing up a site and doing some link exchanges to get it ranking #1 next week. Sometimes your topic or site may be to boring to draw that type of attention, sometimes your audience just isn’t that big. So how to small niche sites get traffic? Well local sites are easy… but i’m talking about the small niche sites that arn’t necessarily local. I wish I had an answer.. i’m still working on this one. I’m just going to keep reading blogs and forums and maybe one day I will find the answer. Sorry to dissapoint anyone, just being honest… […]

  15. Demonz Web September 13, 2007 at 2:02 AM

    If you don’t expect your readers to post quality content and you’re not prepared to moderate you comments why have comments on your blog?

  16. Demonz Web September 13, 2007 at 2:07 AM

    Just thought I would point out that there are no-follow tags on this blog 🙁

  17. Jim Boykin September 13, 2007 at 8:24 AM

    Demonz, only for a 2 day period, then the no-follows go away…that buys me time to moderate for any spam.

  18. Demonz Web October 20, 2007 at 8:10 PM

    Also, in regards to the Matt Cutts thing, I think it’s half truth half white lie. I will give you a practical example.

    A competitor company of “my friend’s” company bought what I thought was pretty clearly a paid link. The competitor has probably had this paid link for quite some time, and it shows up in their Google and Yahoo ‘everyone backlinks’ (as opposed to their webmaster backlinks). My friend’s company bought a link on the same site, virtually identical position, but months and months later no result.

    My conclusion is paid links can eventually earn TrustRank, but not for a long time AND this long time is the time it takes for the listing site to become a plethora of paid spam links, meaning the TrustRank period grows exponentially. This is just my opinin, but it is what I have experienced – “my friend” has experienced this pattern more than once.

    Just on Matt Cutts, I think he may bend the truth sometimes. Listen to Jim here and Aaron Wall, as I think these guys tend to ‘explain’ more than they ‘tell’, and it’s the fine-print in SEO that makes the difference.

  19. Nick Garner December 20, 2007 at 1:44 PM

    I know this comment is on a 2 year post, but anyway.

    I meant to go into to this question much harder with Mr Cutts at Pubcon, (I wanted to push him to see if he gave any ‘body language clues’ away) but I got side tracked. Although he did say no follow was totally locked down…

    BUT if no follow is everywhere including some of the most heavily policed sites on the internet (wikipedia) and if links are a core signal, then whats in it for google to ignore no follow links 100% of the time?
    after all if a site is an authority site and its human moderated, then surely google needs this signal information?

Comments closed

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.