All forums should nofollow external links


The spam and fluff posting is getting out of hand on many forums. Too many messages get posted for promotional purposes and to link drop signatures because of advice from SEO Kiddies that this is a good way to build backlinks to a site (its not). These kinds of posts add nothing of value to the community.

The search engines implemented the recognition of the nofollow attribute to tell their spiders not to follow a particular link and not to pass any benefit from the link. Here is Google’s info on this and Wikipedia’s.

The html for a link that has the nofollow attribute will look like this:

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Buy Snake Oil Here</a>

Of the two links below, one is no follow’d and one is not:

Buy Snake Oil Here or Buy Snake Oil Here

You can see which one by looking at the View>Page Source (Firefox) or View > Source (Internet Explorer) and see which of the two links has the nofollow. The SEOMoz toolbar for Firefox will highlight nofollow’d links on a page.

The nofollow attribute was introduced to reduce spam on blogs. Now its use is urged whenever a webmaster does not or can not vouch for the link. It should be used on any links that were paid for. Nofollow’d links do not pass any link juice.

I strongly urge all forum Admins to make all external links to their forums nofollow’d. One way to cut back on spam and fluff posting is to make the forums less attractive to those that do this. If everyone made their forums nofollow, then we will start to see a reduction in the nonsense.

The search engines handle the nofollow atribute differently:

  • Google say that they do not follow the links and pass no link benefit for it (but I have seen claims from some SEO’s that have done some testing that Google do actually crawl the link)
  • Yahoo! do follow the link, but the link does not pass any link juice or is used in the ranking of a site
  • Bing does not count the link in their ranking calculation, but it has not been made clear by them if they follow it.

I use the NuHit’s URL’s add on for vBulletin that adds a nofollow to every external link. It also gives you the option to specify in the control panel which sites can be considered ‘internal’ and not have the attribute nofollow’d. I just wish the spammers and fluff posters would notice that the links are nofollow’d before they join and post! (they all get deleted anyway). If all forums did this, then we may see an improvement.


3 Responses to All forums should nofollow external links

  1. Admin December 5, 2009 at 3:53 PM #

    Just an added note on the nofollow attribute. Google has started showing some nofollow backlinks in Google webmaster tools, leading some to speculate that they are crawling and using nofollow’d links.

    Matt Cutts, from Google clarified this by saying during a webmaster chat:
    “we don’t follow nofollow links, but we do include nofollow links in the webmaster console just to give webmasters a full picture of all the stuff that’s linking to them.”
    The transcript of the chat is here:

  2. Kris January 10, 2010 at 3:46 PM #

    It is more than obvious that every search engine follow nofollowed links.

  3. Admin January 11, 2010 at 2:49 PM #

    How did you determine that the search engines follow nofollow’d links? Did you read the statements from the individual search engines in the article. Google do list nofollow’d in webmasters tool (they have admitted that), but have also said that this does not mean they follow them.

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