According to Google, a no-follow link “provides a way for webmasters to tell search engines “Don’t follow links on this page” or “Don’t follow this specific link.” They give three reasons for this instruction: “untrusted content”, “paid links”, and “crawl prioritization”. While no follow links are rather controversial among website owners and search engine optimization professionals, they are an acceptable form of search engine optimization according to Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team.
Untrusted content includes links from commenters or other sources you don’t really know. The purpose of a no-follow tag on these links is to keep spammers from overrunning your site. Google claims this “will help keep your site from inadvertently passing PageRank to bad neighborhoods on the web.” Of course, for people you trust the no-follow tag can be removed. Google also recommends using a no follow link on pages that aren’t of any use to a search engine spider such as a “register here” or “add to cart” link. This idea of crawl prioritization is fairly new but many search engine optimization are jumping on the bandwagon in hopes of achieving better Page Rank status. “A site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. In order to prevent paid links from influencing search results and negatively impacting users, we urge webmasters use nofollow on such links.”
Although no follow links have been in standard practice for a while now, that does not mean they are commonly accepted. As one web marketer states, “To me, this simply reeks of gaming the algorithmic system for the sake of rankings with no positive impact on users.” Opponents of the no follow link claim that “sculpting” websites to gain better Page Rank is similar to the way Apple makes all their Ipods very user friendly but places all kinds of internal restrictions on how the music on the Ipod can be moved around. No follow links are essentially only for search engines and have no effect on the user. “Using No Follow seems like a really easy thing for an engine to pick up and either discount or penalize. It makes it very, very clear what you’re trying to do. While Matt [Cutts] says they’re ok with it (now) there’s nothing to say they won’t change their mind down the road when it’s no longer in their best interest to have people using it. Personally, I’d rather see companies focus their time and efforts on really getting a conversation going with their target audience than spending time crafting page code to improve rankings.”
Do you agree or disagree? Perhaps, I missed something? Either way, I would just love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic… just let me know your alive!