One of the basic strategies of search engine optimization is link control. Search engines typically give a website credit for every inbound link from other websites, and a demerit for every outbound link to another website. (Editorial note: every search engine qualifies sites differently, and few reveal the criteria they use to rank sites. ) So it benefits a site to get other people to link to it, even through user generated webpages such as forums, wikis, comment sections, etc.
This has led to rampant spamming of these user generated webpages. To combat this problem Google has created a special tag which instructs the browser not to follow a link. The rel = “no follow” does as it implies – it tells the search engine not to follow the link. Previously this could only by done per page, from code within the page’s meta tags. This does not effect a visitors ability to click on a link and go to your website. It only pertains to search engines spidering your site from user generated content pages.
This is only a suggested change, and it doesn’t pertain to all search engines. But so far, Google has rallied some of the largest content delivery services and search engines to embrace the rel = “no follow” protocol.
- Scripting News
- Six Apart
- MSN Spaces
Additionally Yahoo! and MSN Search are supporting rel = “no follow” as well. You can read more about this here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/01/preventing-comment-spam.html
In the past, we’ve recommended forum and comment marketing as a good way to communicate with a specific target market, with the added benefit of receiving an inbound link from other sites. (note: we’ve advocated using linking only in a manner respectful to the online community, within relevant content and also within your posting signature).
This new protocol obviously effects your online marketing and search engine optimization strategy with regards to link building, and you should adjust your strategy accordingly.