No incentive to follow Nofollow

Many moons ago, Google rallied the other big search engines to adopt a standard called rel=”nofollow” with the goal to save its PageRank algorithm from blog comment and trackback spammers. Blog platform developers made it a default standard, and people assumed that was the end of blog-oriented spam.

Carsten Cumbroski says rel=nofollow doesn’t cut it, and as a result PageRank is dead.

I won’t comment on the latter, but I assume the real problem is that spammers just didn’t get the message. And why should they? The onus was on the bloggers to essentially do the search engines a favor for the “benefit of all” – unfortunately nofollow really only benefits the search engines. The spammers are leveraging the fact that comment and trackback spam is generally a pain in the ass to manage – the existence of a tag attribute that blocks contribution to the linking site’s PageRank doesn’t deter them because they are playing an effortless numbers game. One in a million spams will get directed at a site that doesn’t follow nofollow. They get a link whether the tag is used or not, as long as the blogger is lazy enough to let it through, and that is generally enough for them.

If Google (and the rest) really wanted this thing to work, what they should have done is give some type of credit to bloggers that enabled the tag. But they didn’t, and probably won’t.

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