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true winners and losers of nofollow

Recently, the big wigs of search engines--Google, Yahoo!, and MSN--got together and decided that a better way to combat Comment/TrackBack/Link spams is the introduction of rel="nofollow" in the link reference. When the search engines see this tag, they will not count a vote for the link and renders the link useless toward their popularity voting systems. Plus, the nofollow-compliant search engines will not follow links with the "nofollow" tags.

Will "nofollow" stop the spammers? I don't have any statistical data to say yes or no. Perhaps sites that have implemented "nofollow" could chime in. Theoretically, I don't see why it would stop spammers. There are going to be search engines that don't implement "nofollow". And there are going to be people who read blogs. The people aren't going to see the "nofollow" tags and may click on a spam link.

Many people agree the "nofollow" design and implementation is simply a hack to eliminate spammer motivations from using comments, trackbacks, and links to distribute their spam. I personally think it's much worse, not only for the web sites that uses "nofollow", but for the search engines that are nofollow-compliant (the big wigs).

By being nofollow-compliant, a search engine is proactively limiting itself from indexing in the web-sphere. Giving away a sector of the web-sphere to their competition--search engines that does not implement the "nofollow" limitation. Any search engines that does not implement "nofollow" have the potential to index more document than Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. Remember that ten years ago Yahoo! was the king of search engines and Google were just the little guys.

Fans of "nofollow" will probably point out that nofollow-compliant search engines will be superior in their search results. There will be less spam related sites in the results. Therefore, nofollow-compliant search engines will continue to be king in the horizon. However, I must point out that due to the "nofollow" design and implementation, many quality contents are also going to be flagged as "nofollow" reducing their likelyhood of maximizing their potential (such as PageRank on Google). Yet, it is possible for these quality contents to maximize their potential on non-nofollow-compliant search engines.

Keep in mind that the blog-sphere picked up so much momentum because everyone and their mom can write to a blog. The sheer volume of blogger, their contents, and their links from one relevant blog to another, the little bloggers has the ability to complete in PageRank with editorial publishers. By introducing "nofollow", when links to relevant off-site blog entries are tagged with "nofollow", the bloggers will have a lesser a chance of completing with these entities that produces tons of editorial contents a day.

On a sidebar, could it be that the introduction of "nofollow" is to benefit the publishers? They may have already lobbied with the search engines companies to compete with the bloggers.

Chieh Cheng
Wed, 7 Dec 2005 14:32:28 -0800

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