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Content reproduction & nofollow

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Friday November 7, 2008 )

If you offer content for reproduction, what is your “nofollow” tag policy? If you don’t have one, you may be losing search engine ranking kudos.

This topic sprang to mind recently after coming across a site that had reproduced a dozen of my articles and had either not linked back to me or had used the nofollow tag on a link. Basically what this means is that they thought my articles were good enough to post on their site, but not good enough to give the proper attribution.

The nofollow attribute added to a link supposedly tells search engines not to follow that link (I personally believe it may be more of a “caution” or dampener flag for bots), nor to give the site being linked to any “link love”, which can boost search engine rankings for that site. Search engines use popularity in the form of inbound links as part of the ranking calculation process.

As I mentioned in an item a couple of days ago that mentioned the nofollow issue, it’s a great tag to use on links from blog comments to preven link spamming, but can work against sites that help to build their rankings through providing quality content to others at no cost – except for a link back. It’s a legitimate search engine optimization strategy.

I did have a clear article reproduction policy that stated “nofollow” couldn’t be used, so I contacted the site and gave them a choice – link properly, or pull down the content. Because the owner of the site was silly enough to believe the myth that outbound links suck, he chose to remove the articles. His loss, not mine – I’m certainly not losing any sleep over it, in fact it worked in my favor.

If you’re offering content – implement, monitor and enforce a no nofollow policy. If you’re using content from other sources, be sure to check the guidelines.

If sites owners couldn’t be bothered or don’t have the time to write their own content, the least they can do is to ensure the originating source gets the recognition it deserves – apparent to both humans and search engine robots.

A nofollow attribute added to a link is a vote of no confidence, a slap in the face for the author of the piece who allowed the article to be reproduced. If everyone abused nofollow in these sorts of ways, it could very likely also negatively impact on the general quality of search results.


Learn more about the nofollow tag/attribute
Search engine optimization tips


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