WP SEO Tips: To Follow or Not to Follow

April 10th, 2007
WordPress Tips

Geared specifically at Google, today we are talking about the NOFOLLOW tag.

There are dozens upon dozens of articles written on “should we use nofollow?” or “shouldn’t be we using nofollow?” among other questions as well. Today I am tackling the issue myself.

NOFOLLOW is a tag that Google created as a means to fight back against spam on blogs. As of today, Google is the only search engine actively using the tag as an integral part of their algorithm. The NOFOLLOW tag simply tells Googlebot to not follow — aka don’t give any link love — to the link you have on your site with that tag. Yahoo! and MSN do not care whether a link has nofollow or not, they will follow the link you provide them.

WordPress has, by default — and for a long time now — nofollow’ed all links to authors in comments. I finally opted to install the plugin TOFOLLOW. I’m using this plugin to actually FOLLOW the links in my comments. As you can see on an article with comments that I am indeed following all the links pointing to the authors of the comments.

Since spam fighting tools are so abundant now for WordPress, there’s really no reason that WordPress should still be using the nofollow tag for comments.

Quick References




  1. Mikhail says:

    “I’m using this plugin to actually FOLLOW “…
    Is it still April Fool joking? The owner of that site has disabled all downloads.

  2. David Paul Robinson (1 comments.) says:

    This is catching on around the blogosphere. Since you need to filter spam anyways, why not reward those who take the time to participate in your blog.

    I’m doing the same on my own blog. Follow, follow me!

  3. Mikhail says:

    hey, never mind. Please delete my comment.

  4. Luis (3 comments.) says:

    Is there anybody with a strong opinion on this matter? I understand the whole follow or not to follow thing, but I’m unsure about safety. Am I opening a door to spammers? They don’t need more help trust me on that.

  5. Dmytro Shteflyuk (1 comments.) says:

    Thank you for explanation and for the dofollow plugin, I just looked for something like this.

  6. Chewxy (8 comments.) says:

    Technorati also uses the nofollow rule

  7. Kimmono (2 comments.) says:

    No follow was a bad idea for the blogging community as it reduced the total search ranking power of the blogging community. No follow never stopped spam as the bots that do the job simply dont check for the tag and spams democratically.

    Aksimet works like a charm and people should edit comments before unleashing them if they recive too much comment spam. That way blogs will matter more in the search engine again.

  8. Steve WP (2 comments.) says:

    I think I’ll follow the lead (puntastic huh) and install this plugin. Mainly because I can’t cope with the sheer guilt of forgetting to give some link love to a commenter who takes the trouble to contribute some input on an article.
    I would, however, retain the default nofollow in the release of WP. Mainly to stop those users who set up a blog, run it for a week, then forget about it from becoming a huge bed of spam.
    Although if akismet running as standard accompanied the change this would probably be a non issue.

  9. Chris Albon (1 comments.) says:

    The tag was a excellent method of deincentivizing spam comments. I have a site without nofollow (non-wordpress) and just deleted 22,852 spam comment yesterday.

  10. Ken (1 comments.) says:

    It’s great to hear that one of the more popular sites has realized that NOFOLLOW is really hurting the blogosphere. I’ve been running DOFOLLOW since it came out. Thanks for making the change.

  11. Bri (1 comments.) says:

    I completely agree that this plugin should be the norm. If people take the time to participate in your discussion and contribute to your blog, then they should be rewarded. Why not get rid of the nofollow as a reward? It’s simple and straightforward. It’s something that I did recently that I recommend to everyone.

  12. Jenny (10 comments.) says:

    I’m using the doFollow plugin and I give lots of linky lurve. I just wish more people should use it and/or WP should take it out.

  13. Andy Beard (25 comments.) says:

    I am a huge supporter of using DoFollow for comments and trackbacks, but nofollow is useful for controlling the link attribution in other places on your blog.
    It should be noted that MSN do respect nofollow in the same way as Google.

    I have linked through to my Ultimate list of DoFollow plugins, as there are a number of options available, and different methods are more suitable for different people.

    It is also a good idea if you use DoFollow to be aware and possibly control the number of internal vs external links you have on each page.

  14. OUStudent (1 comments.) says:

    Following the post, and subsequent commentary, here, I have added the DoFollow plugin. Previously, this isn’t really something I had ever thought about which is my sort of excuse for being lazy and leaving the “NoFollow” on.

    It would be a lot better if WP defaulted to not using the NoFollow with the option to turn it on for certain posts.

    I will still manually enter nofollow into links I create if I feel it required, but it is nice to think that the default setting is more “comment-friendly.”

  15. Elaine Vigneault (2 comments.) says:

    I used dofollow on my comments when I had them. I turned them off recently. Now I just have trackbacks, which are dofollow.

    I don’t really think the whole nofollow ever totally caught on anyway except for wikipedia.

    The real problem is the weight attached to links in the first place, not whether Google ignores them or not. Think about it, why do web publishers have more say over the validity of websites than non-publishers? Why is it still so easy to Googlebomb?

  16. John P. (3 comments.) says:

    I don’t get a lot of real comments but I do get plenty of spam comments. However, the BB and Akismet combo makes my work with spam comments extremely small and certainly worth the time to make sure my real commenters get a pop from the Google SEO. The NOFOLLOW tag should be switchable by default but until then, I’ll use the plugin.

  17. Jonathan (7 comments.) says:

    Elaine: in response to your comment, anything and everything on the web is done a web publisher. That’s all that matters, those links. I’m not sure how something could get on the web by a non-publisher.

    In the same instance, links are valued at who links to that site. Who has the authority, etc etc.

    Such as a link from is far more valuable than a link from

  18. Elliott C. Bäck (15 comments.) says:

    Now there’s a sort of incentive to leaving comments on your blog, isn’t there. But, links from a single blog are only good for a) small time bloggers and b) up-and-coming spam. For those of us with big, old, well ranked sites, this whole follow or not business is silly.

  19. Pande (9 comments.) says:

    I think ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ is great. Some people just write comments to get a link.

  20. Mostly Technical (6 comments.) says:

    Interesting discussion. I discovered the existence of the nofollow attribute a month or two ago, and had mixed feelings about it at the time. In the end I concluded that the Rel=Nofollow tag will eventually reduce spam. Then again, the bots are blind, and akismet does work well, so in the end, perhaps the tag won’t do much against spam. Besides, spammers spam by numbers, and even if the spam does not increase the PR of their website, it probably drives just a little traffic, so the spammers will keep right on spamming.

    What rel=nofollow may do is increase the quality of comments. Pande is right, some people comment just for the sake of leaving a link.

    Here are a couple of ideas about that.

    1) If I get a comment like “nice post” and that’s all, I delete it, no apologies.

    2) How about a plugin that allows the blog operator to select which comments get to be followed, and which ones not? If I had a plugin like that, I would reward useful comments with a real contribution with a “publish with follow” and the pot-boilers as “publish no-follow”. And I would be quite happy to publicly flag which was which. That would encourage quality comments!

  21. Andy Beard (25 comments.) says:

    Elliot, people who leave comments are also “linkerati” and potential subscribers. How many “quality” links does that plugin of yours gain you?

  22. Mostly Technical (6 comments.) says:

    By the way, does anyone know how outgoing links from comments affect PR? Since out-going links are good, it seems to me that letting your commenters do that for you is good – as long as they link to a related site. That is the one fly in the ointment – allowing visitors to link to sites with unrelated content. Yet another reason to have comment-by-comment control over follow vs. no-follow.

  23. Andy Beard (25 comments.) says:

    @Mostly Technical (I hope you thanked your parents for giving you that name)- solutions do exist for selective nofollow by adding /follow/ to the end of a url.
    As for the pagerank leaks, there are so many variations of what you can do, and I have probably written in excess of 30 posts on various problems and associated solutions on blogs. The more you micro-manage things, ultimately things become more time consuming.

  24. Kirk M (67 comments.) says:

    I started using the Do-Follow plugin about a month ago and have it set for two days before taking the No-Follow tag off a comment for anti spam purposes. I use Akismet, Spam Karma 2 and Bad Behavior to watch over my property as it were so I haven’t experienced any increase in Spamments because of the plugin.

    Whether it’s an asset or detriment to my PR remains to be seen but I do like the idea of giving back something to the people who take the time to comment on a post. Plus I believe that it really depends on what type of blog you have as to whether out-linking is going to help your rank or not. A popular, personal type blog shouldn’t have to worry about it as much as a popular niche type blog that may find that out-links to unrelated content might not be such a great thing in the long run.

    In the end it might just boil down to personal preference. I agree with the idea that a future version of WordPress should have the added function of turning the no-follow tag on/off for any particular comment.

  25. Patrix (6 comments.) says:

    Comment spam is now (almost) history and trackback spam is big now especially from those feed aggregator sites. I delete 1-2 everyday from my relatively unknown site. They also look more authentic than comment spam. I wonder if our blogs/sites are hurt when such link farms link back. Or is it better since they are inbound links?

  26. Mostly Technical (6 comments.) says:

    @Actually, I do have a name! It’s Doug. “Mostly Technical” is my nom de Blog :)

    Anyhow, I’m not interested in micro-managing my blog. I do like to know the nitty gritty though, then use that to apply a system which I can apply quickly and easily. I certainly don’t want to get in to editing URLs in individual posts, so for now the no-follow/do-follow is all or nothing. The idea of selectively applying it to comments is more to encourage quality comments than it is to discourage spam.

    Kirk, you are giving me some insight into how do-follow works. Interesting that you can set a time for no-follow to be applied, then remove it.

  27. Luis Cruz (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve been using the dofollow plugin for over a month now, but I wish the function were built into WP. The nofollow tag doesn’t really do anything to combat spam anyway, so why should legitimate commenters not get some link love?

  28. Anghus (2 comments.) says:

    I’ve been using the linklove plugin for sometime now. The great thing is that I can easily decide how many comments a person needs to have before his/hers link get follow tag.

  29. Robert Accettura (4 comments.) says:

    I don’t think it was ever truly intended to “prevent spam”… the intent was to make it so that spammers didn’t benefit from spamming.

    I keep it enabled… now I know for certain spammers don’t benefit.

    I think it also helps to know that people who post stupid comments just for the sake of having their link on a blog don’t get the Google juice. IMHO a good link is really from being linked to, not by writing something for the purpose of getting a link.

    Maybe that’s just me.

  30. Inspirational Quote Maniac (2 comments.) says:

    Now, it’s a controversial move for sure.
    I don’t understand why some people happily use the Top Commentators plugin to rewards the top commentators but shy away from following your move to get rid of the no-follow tag.

  31. jaren (1 comments.) says:

    thanks for the info… Nofollow or follow.. now it’s clear..appreciate the explanation

  32. Craig (1 comments.) says:

    It would be good if the NOFOLLOW function was built in to WP. I’ve got about half a dozen other features I’d like to see built in too. But I’ve also got about half a dozen plugins which give me those features. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we love WordPress so much?
    I’m guessing that the WP developers have to consider which features would be most useful in a standard installation. Leaving NOFOLLOW on comment links is useful to a blog without a functioning comment spam blocker.
    We all know that we can tweak and twiddle with WP to our hearts content, but not all of us do, and I suppose that it’s those people that the standard installation is tailored for.

  33. Gustavo Bacchin (1 comments.) says:

    It leaves the decision to webmasters about using or not, which I think is great move from Google. Hopefully the other SE will follow and the TAG will become a standard.

  34. Ellen (1 comments.) says:

    This makes alot of sense for those of us who screen all are comments before they appear and use filters like Askismet. Why I should have to do anything to my blog for any corperation in America is beyond me.

  35. Phillip Kemp (1 comments.) says:

    Hi have you noticed any gain or loss in your rank with /index/follow from nofollow? IE why call your title SEO if it is only about search behaviour and spam. did it actually optimize your site?

  36. Jonathan (83 comments.) says:

    Pande: Heh, kind of like your comment?

    Phillip: WP SEO Tips is the series I’m writing about. It won’t always be 100% directly about SEO, but it’s in that arena and will be the primary focus.

  37. MikkiBook (2 comments.) says:

    Hi, I have a question regarding nofollow wordpress plugin. I feel hard in finding this plugin which allows the webmasters to add rel=”nofollow” only in the single post. I’ve been searching on the net and I can’t find it till now, do you have any information? Please let me know, thank a lot.


  1. […] the NOFOLLOW tag to all links to authors that appear in comments. This issue is being discussed at Weblog Tools Collection today: NOFOLLOW is a tag that Google created as a means to fight back against spam on blogs. As of today, […]

  2. […] April 10th, 2007 by admin Admin, General sidenotesReading some of the commentary on the Weblog Tools Collection pages, I have decided to add a the “DoFollow” plug in. I agree with what is said both […]

  3. […] recently ran across another article about whether to use rel=nofollow in links from your visitors comments. Jonathan, the author, advocates installing the Dofollow Plugin For WordPress, which removes the […]

  4. […] In making this decision, I was influenced by posts on several other blogs, including JLH Design Blog, Sabastian’s blog, More Earnings via Search Engine Optimization, and weblog tools collection. […]

  5. […] have caused me to rethink the use of the nofollow attribute on my blog comment links. Much has already been written about whether or not to use the nofollow attribute, so I won’t re-hash those arguments here. […]

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