Google has introduced a new link attribute, and it's ultimately designed to tell the search engines to ignore the link when it comes to calculating their algorithm. This new attribute is called rel="nofollow" and it can be added to any typical href link. By adding the attribute to a link on your site, you're telling the search engines to ignore it. According to Google, "From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results."

Ultimately, this is good news to bloggers and any other website that allows people (and bots, of course), to add a link to their website without being moderated or "checked" by the website's owner. This attribute can be built into applications running on the website so that it automatically adds the (rel="nofollow") attribute to un-moderated or "non-verified" links.

Yahoo!, MSN Search, and other search engines are taking Google's lead and beginning to recognize this new link attribute. Others that approve of the new (rel="nofollow") attribute include Brad Fitzpatrick of LiveJournal, Dave Winer of Scripting News, Anil Dash of Six Apart, Steve Jenson of Blogger, Matt Mullenweg of WordPress, Stewart Butterfield of Flickr, Anthony Batt of Buzznet, David Czarnecki of blojsom, Rael Dornfest of Blosxom, and Mike Torres of MSN Spaces. Since this new link tag attribute is mainly focused on getting rid of blog comment spam, most of the blogging community is behind it.

This new (rel="nofollow") attribute, though, may begin to be used on many other sites, such as sites that use guestbooks which are notorious for seeing link spam, as well as directories. Some website directory owners might consider adding links to their directory but only removing the (rel="nofollow") attribute if the link submitter pays them to remove the (rel="nofollow") attribute. Google recently commented on the issue, "We think any piece of software that allows others to add links to an author's site (including guestbooks, visitor stats, or referrer lists) can use this attribute. We're working primarily with blog software makers for now because blogs are such a common target."

According to Ken Moss, the General Manger of MSN Search Dev & Test, "Any link with this tag will indicate to a crawler it is not necessarily approved by this page and shouldn't be followed nor contribute weight for ranking. Our Search Champs suggested this and it has been a part of our plans since, we think it's a great idea... Over the coming weeks, our MSNBot crawler will start respecting this new tag, and sometime after that MSN Spaces will start to support this as well (I expect Mike Torres and MC will have more details - the team has already made investments to help prevent blog spam to begin with). Cheers to Yahoo! and Six Apart for also supporting this movement."
January 19, 2005

Bill Hartzer currently runs a Strategic Online Marketing Consultancy that includes services such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and online reputation management.

Bill Hartzer formerly managed the Search Engine Marketing division of Vizion Interactive and MarketNet, leading interactive marketing and website design firms in the Dallas, Texas area.

Hartzer is a successful writer, blogger, search engine marketing, and social media marketing expert. During the past fifteen years, some of his many accomplishments include: Search Engine Marketing Manager, Vizion Interactive, Search Engine Marketing Manager, MarketNet, Search Engine Optimization Strategist, Intec Telecom Systems PLC, Webmaster, Intec Telecom Systems PLC, Founder, Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, Owner/Author, Corporate Web Site Marketing, Administrator, Search Engine Forums, Frequent Speaker, Search Engine Strategies Conferences, Frequent Speaker, WebmasterWorld's PubCon Search Engine and Internet Marketing Conference.

Search Engine Guide > Bill Hartzer > New Link Attribute Gets Endorsed by Search Engines, Others