Do Nofollow Tags Really Pass Link Love?

First, what’s the reason for a nofollow tag? Perhaps there was a growing concern about comment spam in the search engine. Possibly to help eliminate Google bowling. Maybe to help these engines rank outbound link love more appropriately. From the looks on this graph, comment spam is really a problem within the blogosphere. But it seems that the nofollow tag is an attempt at fixing a problem within the search engines at our expense, take a look at #7.

Here is what I do know. Any link with a nofollow tag is still being followed, at least by Yahoo. Lets take a quick look at a backlink result to double check this. Check out an old friend of mine’s backlinks in Yahoo. He left a comment at SEOblackhat and Yahoo picked it up as a link.

We can obviously conclude that some search engines do follow nofollow links and bring them back into their link index. Now what about nofollow tags carrying weight? Thats a really great question and I know there has been some debate on this topic so let me lay out what we know so far.

Neil from Pronet Advertising did a post back in march about a guy who comment spammed a bunch of sites to with an anchor text of “piderman 3″. Below is an image of that result.


I must say that it seems obvious that there is relevancy passed through a nofollow, at least with Google. On the other hand I see a site that is #5 for a term that only brings back 224 results in Google. I do not think its safe to say that nofollow links can help you rank well for competitive terms or even semi competitive terms. Lets also consider the text on the page. On his home page it does mention the term that is being searched. That could have something to do with it.

Heres what I think about nofollow tags:

  1. They are good for getting a site crawled
  2. They are good for helping a overall inbound links
  3. They assist in search saturation
  4. They can help pass relevancy
  5. They are stupid and I hate them
  6. They give people a sense of security which really is not there
  7. Not many people use these correctly
  8. I think if it would be up to us to help determine link value, someone should start a conference about it
  9. I don’t think you can rank for competitive terms with just nofollow links
  10. I think search engines pay attention to nofollows, to what degree is unsure