Many websites have recently lost their Google PR due to the alleged selling of links or excessive link trades. Google often judges links without the “nofollow” tag as attempts to exploit their link popularity algorithm (even when it isn’t). As a result, most webmasters who weren’t “no following” their links before, will now be doing so for all links. As a testimonial to the popularity of this choice, several WordPress plugins have been created to make “no follow” automatic for all links.
It’s a logical move when Google changes its rules on a whim and then expects full compliance, even on posts made before the change. Regardless of what type of link they say is safe today, it makes sense to simply use the rel=”nofollow” tag for each and every link. This will, of course, render the algorithm useless as an indicator of website popularity, but Google will have nobody but itself to blame for that. Even now, if all it takes is one suspicious link to completely wipe a site’s PR, no other factors are being considered so PR isn’t an accurate ranking at all. Marketing and Public Relations professionals will be far better served by MOZ page authority if they’re interested in link popularity.
I’m all for eliminating spammy sites from search results so those of us who put effort into our websites can place higher. Google’s dedication to that has been commendable and I don’t begrudge them their right to do so. However, they may want to redirect some of the energy used to catch people it suspects of selling links, to visiting sites to find out who is truly producing premium content. I’ve encountered countless websites with a lower PR/search ranking that provide amazing content, but simply aren’t big on marketing. Searchers don’t care who is best at marketing, they want the best relevant content.
Another problem with ranking websites on link popularity is it is entirely inaccurate for sites in a small niche. Naturally they won’t have a lot of links back to their site, but they may have the best content on the web for that small niche topic.
Perhaps it’s time to retire this algorithm all together.
As a searcher, I am no longer confident that I will find all exceptional sites through Google search. A lot of amazing content could be left out because a topical expert didn’t know he should “no follow” a link. That’s a real shame. Imagine a brilliant scientist writing exceptionally informative content on a topic you’re looking for, but you won’t see the results because they haven’t a clue they should use a “no follow” tag… how is that improving the search experience?
There are many, many reasons people include “do follow” links or guest posts on sites, it isn’t all about Google and I daresay most of it isn’t. I’m hoping Google takes a moment to think this through before too many people switch search engines in an effort to see all of the great content out there. I can understand their goal, but they need to take a step back from their attacks long enough to fully consider the outcome of the battle or they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot.
The way I see it anyway ;-).
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