Google's Nofollow Link Attribute Didn't Help Improve Blog Comments; Sorry

Jan 15, 2019 • 8:22 am | comments (9) by | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Fred Comments

Yesterday at Search Engine Land I wrote how the Google blog turned off comments and how the nofollow link attribute wasn't able to save even that blog in terms of helping the comments become useful. I then went back in history covering why Google released the nofollow link attribute.

I wrote that in 2005 (we have a post on it), Google wrote "preventing comment spam" and said:

If you're a blogger (or a blog reader), you're painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites' search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like "Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site." This is called comment spam, we don't like it either, and we've been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn't a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it's just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.

The goal was to prevent (or reduce) comment spam and thus try to save the relevancy of blog comments. Now that Google removed comments from their own site, and one of the reasons stated was "most of the time they were off-topic or even outright spammy." It is ironic, for sure, as Google said.

I said the nofollow link attribute did not succeed in "preventing comment spam" as it was originally designed to do. So Gary Illyes from Google got a bit upset and took it to Twitter:

Bottomline, the spam was overwhelming in the comments of that blog and any blog on the internet. Heck, I spend around 20 minutes a day dealing with comment spam here, and we have good spam filters. The nofollow link attribute did not prevent comment spam, that is all I am saying. Also, I echoed what Gary wrote on the webmaster blog that it is ironic.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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