SEOs Are No Longer United & I Blame The NoFollow

Jun 15, 2012 - 8:35 am 53 by
Filed Under Search News

CamaraderieA few days ago, I posted on Google+ that the disavow link tool that is expected to be released by Google in the upcoming months makes me a "bit sad."

I wanted to take the time to explain why (note, I will be offline a lot today and might not be able to respond to comments that quickly).

Several years back in the SEO community, SEOs for the most part, stood together. We had each others backs. When one SEO took a fall, we did what we could to help out. There are exceptions to that but that was the general feeling. We had a community and we protected each other. I feel that is not longer the case and hasn't been for some time.

SEOs are no longer united, there is very little camaraderie in the industry and I blame the nofollow.

Nofollow To Blame For Division In SEO Community

What? How can the nofollow attribute, a small HTML attribute designed to not vouch for spam links that was introduced in 2005 be blamed?

This was one of the first official ways for SEOs to publicly claim they don't like a link because they can't trust it. Back then, I didn't see the big picture. I don't know if Google did but they are smart. Most sites who didn't have an SEO didn't use it and still don't. The number of nofollow attributes on the web as a percentage of all links is minuscule. Typically if it is used, it is used by a savvy SEO who simply is making a statement, "I don't trust this link." Of course, there are plenty of platforms that add this on automatically, but trust me, Google knows which platforms are automated.

Either way, we have SEOs clearly documenting what they don't trust. Not submitted a spam report but adding HTML that indicate which URLs they feel are not worthy of them linking to.

Paid Link PageRank Penalties

Then in November 2007 Google started slapping sites who sold links that passed PageRank. It specifically was targeting paid links and this came with no surprise to SEOs, Google warned us, if you sell links, make sure they don't pass PageRank or Google can penalize you. Google said, make sure you place the nofollow on paid links.

Tons of SEO blogs were hit, including this one. But I believe every SEO blog (except one) that was hit almost immediately added the nofollow attribute to their paid links or removed the links completely.

SEO Community Spits

It was at this time where the nofollow split the industry. I stubbornly stood up and even to this day, yelled How Dare You Tell Me To NoFollow My Sponsored Links. I didn't do it because I want to make money by selling links, I did it because I am stubborn and more so, I wanted to see if there was any sense of unity or camaraderie in the community.

At that point it was too late. SEOs split. Most still wouldn't report competitors to Google back then, but they still did so indirectly. There is a a fear that Google has set out there, again, I don't blame them - I would do the same if I was at Google, but that fear set a tone. I also doubt Google cared about scaring anyone, they just want the best results and this is one of many ways to achieve it.

When Andy and I stood up and the rest of the community stepped down, we saw that split. We may be stupid, but I am a big fan of the community and the community being together for better or worse.

Stand Together Or Get Smart

I wrote about this on my personal blog a while back about Digg's Camaraderie and how it reminded me of 11th and 12th grade. I'll give the short version.

In 11th grade, I was in this class that was so united. If one kid was going to fail a test, we all refused to take the test. If one student was penalized some way by a teacher, we wouldn't answer or participate in that class for the day. If one student was kicked out of class, we all left with him. It was stupid but amazing.

In any event, we are all grown up now. It is a different industry. It is wise we are where we are now. But I do kind of miss the old community feeling.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Image credit to ShutterStock for united birds


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