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    Can NoFollow Links, Linking To You, Hurt You


    My question: Google doesn't use NoFollow links in terms of SERP's, but does it use them in identifying webspam? can NoFollow links lead to be slapped by penguin, ie. something like comment spam.
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    I believe that Google does use them to some extent when looking at a back link profile.

    Also, despite the common thinking, I do believe that having too heavy a nofollow back link profile with irrelevant links CAN devalue your sites authority.

    This does fly in the face of the no link can hurt you argument - but recent evidence (lots of analysis on Penguin) shows that there is some correlation between nofollow low relevance back links and sites being devalued.

    Comments on this post

    • DarrenHaye agrees : Not seen you post for ages pal, wb.
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    Originally Posted by tstolber
    This does fly in the face of the no link can hurt you argument
    I think that argument is dead now.

    Originally Posted by tstolber
    but recent evidence (lots of analysis on Penguin) shows that there is some correlation between nofollow low relevance back links and sites being devalued.
    There have been a couple of threads started lately with site owners saying their sites have been spanked and upon reviewing their backlinks, most seemed to be NoFollow comment spam..

    All though I have no real strong evidence of it, I am inclined to think that NoFollow links, linking to you, can hurt you.

    Comments on this post

    • tstolber agrees : I've been super busy!
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    I have spent my friday night (it is now 5am) reading over at the google webmaster forum.. wild times for me.

    Hope he doesn't mind me quoting him from somewhere else.. but I just happened to come across a post about this topic I'm asking about

    "I can say "WITHOUT ANY DOUBT WHATSOEVER" that using the rel="nofollow" attrubute is as good as deleting a link as it relates to recovery from a Manual Review or a PENGUIN Update as in both instances the link is no longer manipulating PageRank thus no longer UNNATURAL"
    That it is a very good argument why I am wrong, but on the other hand, intent is punishable in law, so could it possibly be punishable by google..
    Last edited by DarrenHaye; Jul 14th, 2012 at 12:29 AM.
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    IMO The problem with all the 'theories' around at the moment is that people are just guessing... People rankings have changed. Google algorithm has changed... People do not know why there rankings have changed... They guess...

    If peoples rankings fell this may simply be caused by the way penguin has changed link juice. ie benefit they were getting before they are not getting now. Simply looking at someones link profile and then saying it was caused by this or that is pointless.

    The main reasons rankings fall is loss of juice relative to the other websites. No follows have no juice so there was nothing to loose. It may simply be the sites that were linking to those sites lost juice when there spammy links were devalued. The other links may of had no relevance.

    Penguin changed the way juice is being distributed. It appears that this had a lot to do with AT benefit and it appears there may also have been a significant devaluation of what type of links do and do not bring juice any more. It also appears that there was a significant change to geo relevance around April as well.

    For example if I was Google I would simply kill all juice from blog comments (or blogs in general).

    I would limit the help AT can bring a site.

    I would reduce/kill the value of links from pages that where just unthemed lists of links.

    I would place greater importance on geo links fro geo relevant searches.

    If Google did this (or something like this) with Penguin then that would explain why people have seen rankings fall. The fact that a heap of the blog comment links are also no follow would be of no relevance...

    Why not run a test pick a weakish website and push a heap of no follow links at it and see if rankings fall... I would be happy to bet they would not...

    Comments on this post

    • DarrenHaye agrees : (0 to give sorry) Good points.
    • EGOL agrees
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    I know one website that ranks well for a very competieve kwd. That site has also gotten into the majestic lillion list....

    After analysing thge backlinks i found that the link were nothing but blog comment spam. All of them were followed....wherein all the other comments were no followed....i dont know how that guy managed to get that ?

    The anchor text he used was generic names...tom, amy, jake, elizabeth and so on. This might have gotten that guy the varied anchor advantage and penguin awarded him for the spam

    Now this calls for a rethink on weather or not blog comments are valued or not ? If so what weight do dofollow ones have?
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    Originally Posted by gazzahk
    IMO The problem with all the 'theories' around at the moment is that people are just guessing... People rankings have changed. Google algorithm has changed... People do not know why there rankings have changed... They guess...
    That is true, I myself think I'm probably wrong, but google doesn't just ignore nofollow links altogether, it shows them in your webmaster tools, it doesn't use them positively in SERPs but maybe it uses them to determine spam.

    Originally Posted by gazzahk
    Simply looking at someones link profile and then saying it was caused by this or that is pointless.
    It depends, if you have been slapped by penguin and need to remove/change links to recover then it is not pointless at all.. which you seem to think is not that case suggested by what you say below.

    Originally Posted by gazzahk
    Penguin changed the way juice is being distributed. It appears that this had a lot to do with AT benefit and it appears there may also have been a significant devaluation of what type of links do and do not bring juice any more.
    So are you saying you don't think you can recover from penguin? in the fact that, recovery would suggest regaining your previous SERP positions, which wouldn't be possible if your links have been devalued and you can't recover the value of them.

    Originally Posted by gazzahk
    For example if I was Google I would simply kill all juice from blog comments (or blogs in general).
    There are plenty of great hobby blogs run by honest people.

    Originally Posted by gazzahk
    Why not run a test pick a weakish website and push a heap of no follow links at it and see if rankings fall... I would be happy to bet they would not...
    Perhaps, maybe curiosity will get the best of me.
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    Originally Posted by DarrenHaye
    So are you saying you don't think you can recover from penguin? in the fact that, recovery would suggest regaining your previous SERP positions, which wouldn't be possible if your links have been devalued and you can't recover the value of them.
    I do not no how you arrived at that conclusion from what I said....

    I would guess recovery is about getting new links to gain back the juice that has been removed/devalued.

    I 'wonder' if changing over optimized AT may be a way of getting juice back from links that have been devalued. I would be trying this before deleting the links myself if I thought this was the problem.

    You must remember if you rankings were coming from heaps of AT links and the juice you were getting from these links was devalued then this would mean your rankings will fall. ie the benefit is not there anymore. Removing them would not bring back the benefit.

    I know what I am trying with the fall I have seen in some Geo related searches is getting more geo related links with a variety of different ATs. Most of my powerful links come from the UK or the US and not HK.

    Darren my own view is Penguin is mainly to do with a devaluation of spammy links and over optimized AT. ie a loss of juice. Recovery therefore seems to mainly involve getting new juice.

    I have also read that if you are seeing a penalty from over optimized AT then doing a 301 redirect will allow the penalty to be overcome. But the AT needs to be changed or the new adress will also be penalized. http://forums.seochat.com/showpost.php?p=1067937&postcount=2 This does suggest to me that if ranking have fallen for a specifc search term that has over optimized AT you should be trying to change the AT of the links that you can.

    In relation to no follow links. To follow the line of reasoning you are putting forward here would mean that Google is lying to the world. If this lie was exposed ie a whistle blower they would cause havoc in how things are being done on the web. I do not believe Google directly lies to us. The consequences for them being exposed would far outweigh any benefit they receive from doing it. They have enough problems without going down this path.

    edit:

    There are plenty of great hobby blogs run by honest people.
    Forgot to address this I did not say kill the blogs rank just kill the ability of ie WordPress sites blog comments to transfer juice for example. Blog comments are now one of the major sources of spam links. Such as the example given by subzero above..
    Last edited by gazzahk; Jul 14th, 2012 at 02:35 AM.
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    Originally Posted by DarrenHaye
    My question: Google doesn't use NoFollow links in terms of SERP's, but does it use them in identifying webspam? can NoFollow links lead to be slapped by penguin, ie. something like comment spam.
    According to Google, any link with the nofollow attribute in the element is categorically dropped from the link graph.

    Admittedly, to rephrase that to make it work for every eventuality is difficult since I don't know what "removing from the link graph" actually means... I can only interpret what I think it means. But beyond the finite reference of the original statement a dozen or so Google staffers have suggested if you have been devalued by PENGUIN you do not need to delete webspam simply add the nofollow attribute will undo devaluation while allowing you to keep any referral traffic from "paid links," traded links," "link wheels," or any other webspam links.

    Recently JohnMu commented on the benefits of using nofollow but he also cautions about the side effects of keeping webspam live (there isn't a exact answer if you take his full comment into context):

    Originally Posted by JohnMu
    With regards to the rel=nofollow; if you have problematic links pointing to your site (in ways that would be against our Webmaster Guidelines), then using the rel=nofollow would almost equivalent to removing those links completely. It won't be completely equivalent once you look past the PageRank-passing because we'd still show it in Webmaster Tools, users can still click through those links, and your site will still be mentioned on the other site. If a link is useful and bringing relevant visitors to your site, then it's fine to use rel=nofollow if it's a paid link -- you don't have to remove it. On the other hand, if it's a link dropped in a spammy comment on someone's blog, then if I were the webmaster and had originally placed the link there (or paid a SEO to do that), that would be embarrassing to me, and would be something I'd try to have reverted / removed. Comment-spamming and dropping links on other people's sites is a particularly bad way to make friends with other webmasters, so even if the algorithms were to ignore those links with a rel=nofollow, I'd personally (independent of all SEO aspects) want to have that cleaned up and make amends if it affected my site.

    Also, if it's your site that has those links on it, while using a rel=nofollow for comments is a great way to prevent those links from counting and from forwarding PageRank, leaving comment spam on your site can appear a bit unprofessional. In some cases, if it's extreme, it can also result in algorithmic action being taken -- not because of the links, but because of the text that's associated with those links. You can imagine that a blog post on pet-training, filled with comments about inexpensive pharmaceuticals might make it a bit hard for our algorithms to understand what the page is actually about, and in some cases, might appear to be keyword-stuffed text.

    Cheers

    John
    The bold part... the links are removed from the equation but the text of the comment(s) are still an integral part of your page text which could be used by googlebot to appreciate as keyword stuffing (if you just let webspam grow because you feel the links are dropped and that's all that matter).

    Course... you got rid of the link webspam problem which is the bases for your current question... YES?

    There are side effects to most everything though.

    RE: drinking water is an absolute necessity to humans to live... but too much water can also kill as it is poison to us as well.
    Last edited by fathom; Jul 14th, 2012 at 02:47 AM.
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    It is all a guessing game as gazz mentioned, but the more ya know the more ya grow.
    The sites I've created for my self have top rankings and haven't moved, but a couple I'm working on haven't, both are quite a few years old and it's almost impossible to know all the history...which again is another guess. Google has the ability to analyze data we don't get to or can't see. I tend to approach every site the same way.
    1. Make sure the on-page is in order, internal links, titles and tags.
    2. Make sure the content isn't copied or a reproductions from elsewhere along with checking the integrity of the language.
    3. Try and get a gauge of the inbound links and anchor text.

    Evaluate that and try and come up with something common thats not common with a site or sites that doesn't have problems, like the ones I've built for myself.

    One thing I have noticed is the inbound links that come from some of these blog networks look spammy as soon as you look at it, ya know the ones with 20 links to 20 different sites all about a theme...that to me looks unnatural..why would anyone build a blog to link to 20 different sites...there isn't but 1 reason...$$$, that in it's self makes it unnatural and it can't be hard for google to spot such a site thats created to just sell links.
    Greed is whats got people losing rank with the penguin update and stupidity for losing rank with panda.
    There are exceptions with both, but with everything some legit ones will fall through the cracks.

    But as far as no follow linking to you...I really doubt they can hurt you, or help you..but that's just an educated guess.

    And as far as what google uses to identify webspam...I'm sure there's a few different triggers...again not proven. It could be as easy as searching for link builders and going under cover, the way most techniques can be found is follow the money and the money will be on page 1...it'll always lead you to the root of the problem. For those who aren't caught...well their thinking out side the box...way outside the box.
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    Thanks for the replies guys, I guess what I'm thinking is...

    Panda & Penguin were made to combat spam right?

    If I were google and someone was creating spam via commenting, their intention being the manipulating of search results, I would punish them for it..

    1. For creating spam.
    2. For the attempted manipulation of search results (even if they're doing a rubbish job of it it).

    The only recovery would be removing those links; you're made a mess, now clean it up.

    So..

    If google doesn't use NoFollow links to detect a pattern of spam, why not?, spam is bad, if it's manipulating rankings or not.
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    it is really interesting as I have seem rank improvements by using only NoFollow links. The only thing I can view is that this has been done last march and maybe things have changed. Or maybe there were other factors I dont know about that had improved my ranking. Either way thanks for this helpful info.
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    Originally Posted by DarrenHaye
    Panda & Penguin were made to combat spam right?
    You nailed it right there... they work in tandem.

    If you sift through the careful language of Google`s official statements you uncover this philosophy.

    They had to fight spam in a logical way... so PANDA was the flagship model to come first... as top resolves are solely based on the often value of the content... links are merely a byproduct of the content quality... and look how long it took PANDA to combat everyday domains.

    Panda/Farmer February 23, 2011 and until PANDA 3.5 April 19, 2012 the algorithm changes never really handled websites that didn`t have a public content inclusion aspect.

    ...and 5 days later PENGUIN starts!

    ...and now you have a ping pong game.
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    Originally Posted by masimka[B
    ]it is really interesting as I have seem rank improvements by using only NoFollow links. [/B]
    Absolute rubbish!

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