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  No Follow Tag Do's and Don'ts
  The no follow tag (rel="nofollow") has been adopted by Google, Yahoo, MSN and the other major and minor search engines as a way to thwart spam. The no follow tag was originally created for bloggers who were being spammed in the comments area of their blogs with ads for pharmaceuticals, home loans and even adult ads.

These drive-by spammers contributed nothing to the blog but benefited from PageRank with links that pointed to their own websites. The nofollow tag simply says to a search engine to disregard this link as it is not to a 'trusted' source. The page at the other end of the no follow link will not benefit in PageRank. Most of the blog software and services now put in the no follow tag automatically for links in the comments area.

Another area where the no follow tag is being used is on publisher websites in on the sponsored link text. Google is especially keen on this noting that sponsored links may in fact be links to bad neighborhoods and should not gain from another site's PageRank. Yahoo disagrees with this philosophy so there is a nice debate going on now about the no follow tag in regard to sponsored links.

One area where one will definitely not want to use the no follow tag is when doing reciprocal link trades. In a reciprocal link trade, you're not only trading traffic with another website but PageRank as well. If you place a no follow tag on the text link of one of your reciprocal partners, this says a couple of things.

First, it says that you don't trust the website that you're linking to enough to endorse it (so why did you make the link trade in the first place?). It also says that you're willing to cheat your partners since they are giving your website PageRank in good faith that you'll do the same and you are employing means that will deprive them of this (so your link trade its not reciprocal).

It is also important that you protect yourself from link partners who are using the no follow tag to gyp you out of a truly reciprocal link trade. Searching the source code on the link page where your link appears from time to time will help you discover if the no follow tag is being used or not.

Remember, the no follow tag is a good device when used properly, but like so many other inventions for the Web, it is prone to misuse as well.

Of course, if you do want to pass on PR and reward those who comment on your blog or message board you may want to go with the dofollow tag that is gaining popularity. The dofollow encourages posters and helps build communities, though you may have to fight more spammers than usual using this method.


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