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="http://fwebde.com/" 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?.