The Case For Dofollow Links


I recently came across an article by Nicholas Cardot of Site Sketch 101, about using Dofollow links versus using Nofollow links (Notice how that link was a Dofollow link).

I never imagined that there could be such a debate around the use of fourteen little characters. After all, those fourteen characters seem to be able to make a huge difference in terms of search engine optimization.

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Some link</a>

When a link is set to Nofollow, it pretty much tells the search engine spiders to stop at those links, and to not follow through them. This is supposed to improve your search engine rankings, by essentially "hiding" your links to other sites.

Now, as you may or may not know (probably not), FWebDe is a Dofollow blog, and has been like that for over half a year now. I even got the idea from Nicholas himself, through a blog post that he seems to have deleted.

Now that you know that this is a Dofollow blog, you'll see that, not counting this post, I don't openly advertise it anywhere. I agree with Nicholas Cardot here, because that does feel like "buying" comments. But advertising the fact that you use Dofollow links everywhere is not the only way of "buying" comments.

For example, I no longer participate in huge contests that reward the person who leaves the most comments. There is always someone more willing than me to keep on posting the same boring comments over and over on each post.

I Appreciate Every Comment

You must think I'm crazy, using Dofollow links without even telling people about it. But here is the reason that I continue to do this: If you take the time to leave a comment, you deserve a backlink. They share their thoughts, I'll share a link to their site.

This is because I believe that comments are the second most important part of a blog, right after content. It's the comments that create discussions and give life to a blog. I do not have the money to pay people who leave comments, however I would still like to reward comments that I receive. Of course, backlinks or money should not be the main incentive to comment, so that is why I rarely mention the Dofollow status of this blog.

This applies to links within my posts, as well. If somebody has a great resource that I decide to link to, it deserves a bit of PageRank.

But What About Spam?

Even with Dofollow links, I haven't received an unbearable amount of spam. It is all caught by Akismet, to be easily managed. I also believe that it may not even have a very noticeable effect on spammers, because the PageRank given to each link is split among each link on the page, and most websites have so many links that the PageRank increase would be negligible. They would need tons of (obvious) links to have any significant gains.

But what about good comments with spammy links? If a comment is relevant to the topic at hand, and is worth keeping, but contains a link that I absolutely do not want to link back to, I may delete either the link, or the entire comment. It all depends on how questionable the link is.

And anyway, if somebody leaves a comment linking to an adult site, will simply slapping a Nofollow on it help at all? If a person clicks the link, it will ruin your site's image. Additionally, Google does follow Nofollow links, it just doesn't index them. I'm not sure about you, but I wouldn't want Google knowing about a link to an adult site, Nofollow or not.

Then there's the solution of using Nofollow in the links of new users, and not in the links of more frequent users. This partly solves the problem, and is much better than labelling all links as Nofollow. However, what if somebody links to a truly valuable site, but never leaves a comment again? After all, whether they stay or not is completely up to them, but even so, I would still like to share some link love with all comments.

So if you have a blog, think about whether or not you will include the Nofollow attribute value in your links. But please remember this: Sharing is caring.

Update: Nicholas Cardot has added another post on this subject titled, Nofollow: Is it Really the Spawn of Satan?.

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  1. March 26, 2010

    First of all, do-follow or no-follow in the comments will have no affect on that site's SERP's.

    Second, people that search out do-follow can easily tell by using a simple plugin on Firefox that strikes a line through all no-follow links, so whether you advertise it or not, it is easy to tell.

    Third, I personally think that whether you call it a reward or a bribe, it doesn't matter. It still means that some of the comments are only on that site because it is do-follow. I prefer to build a community on my blog based on content, not whether or not I am rewarding commentors. The real reward is in the community itself, not the link.

    One more thing: Wouldn't it be better to reward people that you support by trying to implement links to their content from within your content. This ti me gives 100 times more reward than a link in comments that Google doesn't really pay attention to anyway (meaning that your reward really isn't a reward at all). When the algorithm was created, links to sites were supposed to be a "vote" for that site. By using do-follow links, you essentially vote for anyone that leaves a comment, whether their content is relevant to yours or not.

    I have found that most of the super advocates of do-follow are just trying to game the system instead of building links through natural methods, like maybe writing content that people WANT to link to, content that is useful to humans.

    • March 26, 2010

      Those are some interesting points.

      However, there will always be a few people who comment for the backlink. But if it is clear that they did not even read the post, and they link to a site completely unrelated, that comment may get deleted.

      Additionally, while the reward might be small, I like to do what I can for people who leave comments.

      Finally, I am not trying to game "the system". When I comment on another blog, I don't care if they are Dofollow or Nofollow. I like Dofollow, but I don't care too much about what others choose.

      But when comparing them, be sure to look at the debate from both sides!

    • March 28, 2010

      You are right Keith, it's not that big deal of reward!

  2. March 27, 2010

    I'm a strong supporter of both sides, but as I mentioned in the beginning of the first of my two articles, I was going to be displaying the argument from the perspective that most refuse to look at so I showed some of the merit of nofollow. Too many people look at it as if you are evil for using it.

    You made this statement which I am adamantly opposed to, " If you take the time to leave a comment, you deserve a backlink."

    Dofollow and Nofollow has only one purpose: to point Google toward links that we feel are important and worthy of listing at the top of keywords that are relevant to their site.

    You are essentially saying that if they leave a comment then you are willing to cast a vote on the fact that they are the best in their respective niches.

    What is the difference in gaining links through by giving you a comment or gaining those votes by paying you cash? Both are an exchange and neither are a true vote based on the value of the link.

    Any link that is being used for any reason other than the link itself is essentially gaming the system.

    Of course, as I've said before, I fully support both sides, but I'm not going to use dofollow blindly. I'm going to be fully aware of the pros and the cons.

    • March 28, 2010

      I don't know, but I really don't think about Google at all when I dofollow or nofollow comment authors links!

      I was thinking about the value in comments itself as I believe that comments can create a great content a side or as an add to the main post

  3. April 3, 2010

    Thanks for keeping the do follow movement alive and well and I side with you on this debate. As you know, I also wrote a response the Nicolas' post as I had some contrarian views as well. If it is true that Nicolas deleted his earlier post about the benefits of do follow....that is crazy!

    My major sticking point is that Nicolas equated do follow with buying comments yet he has held numerous contests based on voter comments, is that not buying comments? I also objected a bit to the title of his post as we can see the debate is far from over.

    • April 3, 2010

      Exactly. There is still much more to be debated on this subject. Both sides have their positive and negative points, which will probably never change, so the debate can't be over yet.

      I also read your post on the subject. You made some very good points :)

  4. April 7, 2010

    Hello, nice article and I agree with you. More people should think like you about dofollow/nofollow links.

  5. April 10, 2011

    I usually have the DoFollow/NoFollow conversation with clients and it always seems to come down to Time, and how much time they want to spend Managing it. There are so many other aspects of the issue they Should be considering /sigh