What does “NoFollow” really mean?

Filed in SEO by Matt McGee on December 11, 2006 0 Comments

nofollowSearch Engine Roundtable has an interesting discussion going on about what “NoFollow” actually means in terms of bot behavior. On reading the subject of the thread, my answer was “No, it doesn’t mean the link won’t be followed; it just means it won’t ‘count’ where SEO is concerned.” I distinctly remember a conversation in Chicago, or maybe it was a Q&A session, where this exact issue was discussed.

Turns out that Eric Enge posted in the comments about a similar discussion at PubCon in Vegas last month, and then Tim Mayer of Yahoo followed up Eric’s comment, confirming all this and including Yahoo’s view of what “NoFollow” is:

I like to think of the no follow attribute as a semantic tag in that you are telling the engines that you do not trust the site you are linking to. The search engines can then treat that signal in the search engine in a way that optimizes for the relevance of the results. This treatment may and will probably differ among search engines and may also differ over time among one single engine. Trying to figure out what the effects is and using the tag to have a desired effect is the wrong way to look at it. It should be a way of describing content.

So the important thing to take from this is that “NoFollow” is not equal to “NoCrawl” or “NoIndex.” Those links are still candidates to be crawled….

[tags]seo, nofollow, linking, yahoo[/tags]

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