Because you’re a human and not a computer, you’ve probably never seen a nofollow tag… and you probably wouldn’t care if you did see one. Nofollow tags are terrible for me as a blogger.
A little background. Search engines, like Google, are clever in how they decide which sites are important. You are judged by those who associate with you.
If popular sites link to you, you get some of their karma. More popular site links going your way means a higher Google page rank for you (and Google is the only search site that really counts).
It’s doubtful The New York Times or Drudge will link to me any time soon (and I probably couldn’t handle the traffic anyway). However, from time-to-time I make comments on other websites. Normally, these comments relate to my areas of expertise – like weather and media.
I don’t spam. I don’t comment for the sake of commenting.
It used to be, my comments (and my web address) were seen by the search engines. That helped elevate the importance of this blog, especially in my areas of expertise. I think that’s how Google and the others intended it.
Now, nearly all the comments I leave have a hidden tag appended to my website’s URL. I just left a comment on Jeff Jarvis’ Buzz Machine. He had posted an entry about TV news helicopters following car chases. That’s a subject I’ve commented on more than once.
Along with my name, I entered my website’s address. Unfortunately, just before www.geofffox.com, hidden within his website’s code, are the words “external nofollow.”
He’s telling Google not to follow the link to my site!
His site, along with many others, do this to every comment they receive. Maybe he’s right? Maybe self published links, like my URL, shouldn’t hold any weight at all.
On the other hand, the diminution of links through the “external nofollow” tag has moved my Google page rank from a 5 to 4, reducing my traffic by between 30% and 40% and cutting my AdSense income by at least 60%.
I’ll be the first to admit I want links for selfish reasons. I like the traffic. I like my thoughts being seen.
Just because it benefits me doesn’t make it wrong, does it?
I wrote Jeff Jarvis to tell him I was disappointed. He responded:
That is how bad the spam problem is. Sorry.
Quite honestly, that’s the Internet equivalent of, “your call is important to us.”
After this was posted, Jeff Jarvis responded. Rather than leaving his comment a click away, I am moving it here within the entry:
No disagreement. But the bad guys here are the spammers. Slime. Scum. Evildoers. I don’t blame my host; they have brought down my host more than once. Akismet, WordPress’ very good spam catcher, still misses many; I still have to kill them every hour or two. That’s how bad it is. Spam killed trackbacks. So far, it hasn’t killed comments, but it could. Spam blogs have also threatened the other means of tying together a conversation — Technorati and blog search revealing links to others’ blogs in a conversation — but so far, they’ve been able to keep only one step behind.
And by the way, it’s Jarvis, not Jervis.
I had mistyped Jeff’s last name. I have corrected and apologized for that error.