Will Social Media’s NoFollow Movement Hurt SEO?

30838250followtheleader.jpgLast week, Wikipedia enacted a “nofollow” format, effectively cutting off any credit for outbound links from the popular user generated online encylopedia.

Now, there is discussion as to whether or not other popular, yet easily “gamed” social networking sites will follow Wikipedia’s lead and implement their own nofollow policy. This would help to ease the strain of spam and gaming that occurs on sites such as Digg, Reddit, TailRank and even TechMeme.

Allen Stern of CenterNetworks raises the issue of Digg enacting a nofollow policy and what ramifications it may have on attempts to game the social news site in order to receive increased traffic and better search rankings…

So my question is… should Digg do the same thing? When I look at the upcoming stories in Tech News (the biggest category), the posts come in like hot cakes. Besides the fact that so many are duplicates, how many are there for the sole purpose of gaining more inbound links.

I think going nofollow may remove a good bit of the “corporate” spam we see on Digg. Will people still spam Digg in the hopes of hitting the home page? Yep. But it may help deter users who are using Digg for the sole purpose of gaining inbound link traction.

Inevitably, these sites will seek an easy way to curtail the rise of corporate or adsense-farm driven spam that dilutes communities, frustrates users and drives down the value of a social platform. Even tag spam is becoming a problem for these sites and the core users of the platforms.

Will the nofollow inertia continue over into blogging, social search (think Sidekiq or the coming Jimmy Wales powered Wiki search)? If more of these social media sites see nofollow as the solution to the spam and “gaming” problem, how will SEO ultimately be affected?

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11 Replies to “Will Social Media’s NoFollow Movement Hurt SEO?”

  1. And now there’s a wordpress plug-in to put a nofollow on all links to Wikipedia. (I found it here.)

    An escalating issue for sure.


  2. I didn’t realize that WordPress has a nofollow on comments by default. I’ve talked to a number of people who recommend installing the “DoFollow” plugin to allow comments to be indexed.

    Any thoughts?


  3. Yeah, I’d forgotten about that wordpress thing. That’s been a long time now. I wonder if that’s changed at all in the new 2.x versions.

    I think it sucks that they do this by default, especially with no way to whitelist or control which comments may get their links ‘followed’.

    I use dofollow.


  4. I did not realize WordPress has “nofollow” per default. Can you point me to the “do follow” plug in? Thanks!


    1. Here you go, Vlad…

      DOFollow Plugin for WordPress

      I implemented just before the Summit and have not noticed any incredible boost, but overtime I think it will add up.

      Since I view the conversation here as more important than the actual posts, I think giving value to those is appropriate.


  5. Thanks Sam,

    In my case I am just grateful any one notices my sites and finds my posts interesting enough to comment. By the way, congratulation on whooping 5 PR! I think it’s phenomenal!


    1. You put out some great ideas and content, Vlad. Thanks for the congrats. I’m really not a metrics kind of a person with page views, etc, but I hear a 5 is decent for 3 months of bloviating and picking on Wayne and Molander.

      BTW, mobile.costpernews.com is now active for you CrackBerry addicts. I noticed there were a ton of you at the Summit, so you can enjoy your daily fix of CostPerNews on the go in a convenient and wap friendly fashion 🙂


  6. […] This morning I woke up to an article by Sam Harrelson about “nofollow” attributes to all outgoing links from Wikipedia. In his article Sam raises question about the SEO effects of “nofollow” attributes should other social media sites choose it as a solution to combat the spam on their sites. […]


  7. […] Just around the time Sam Harrelson raised the question of SEO implication over Wikipedia’s move to attribute “nofollow” to all outgoing links, the Seomoz page strength tool was down for a maintenance. The tool measures the strength of a web page based on many factors, including the incoming links from wikipedia. […]


  8. yeah… those stupid wiki’s!
    wonder what happen if we all use nofollow to them?

    Have a good one.


  9. […] not. Regardless of that, there has been evidence that engines are still seeing and considering the hyperlink using a NOFOLLOW in context to the rest of the […]


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