Natural Search Blog

Hey Google: Nofollow is for when I don’t vouch for the link’s quality

I’ve said before that I don’t agree with Google’s tough stance on link buying and use of “nofollow” to mark it as a financially influenced link (here and here). One of my favorite white-hat SEO bloggers, Rand Fishkin, is also on Google’s case for it. A key argument that Rand makes:

Nofollow means “I do not editorially vouch for the quality of this link.” It does NOT mean “financial interest may have influenced my decision to link.” If that were the case, fully a quarter of all links on the web would require nofollow (that’s a rough guess, but probably close to the mark). Certainly any website that earns money via its operation, directly or indirectly is guilty of linking to their own material and that of others in the hopes that it will benefit them financially. It is not only unreasonable but illogical to ask that webmasters around the world change their code to ensure that once the chance of financial benefit reaches a certain level (say, you’re about 90% sure a link will make you some money), you add a “nofollow” onto the link.

You go, Rand! Tell those Googlers a thing or two! 😉

Despite all this, Google is the one who holds the keys to the kingdom. So we have to abide by their rules, no matter how “unreasonable” and “illogical.” That’s why my January column for Practical Ecommerce goes into some detail explaining Google’s stance on link buying and the risks. I’ll post a link once the article comes out in a few days.
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Interview with Google about duplicate content

The following is an excerpt of a video conversation held between Vanessa Fox, Product Manager of Google Webmaster Central, and Rand Fishkin, CEO and co-founder of SEOMoz about Google and duplicate content. This further confirms Adam Lasnik’s position that it’s a filter, not a penalty. The full video can be found here.

Rand Fishkin: Duplicate content filter, is that the same or different to a duplicate content penalty?
Vanessa Fox: So I think there is a lot of confusion about this issue. I think people think that if Google sees information on a site that is duplicate within the site then there will some kind of penalty applied (duplicating its own material). There’s a couple of different ways this can happen, one if you use subpages that seem to have a lot of content that is the same, e.g. a local type site that says here is information about Boulder and here’s information about Denver, but it doesn’t actually have any information about Boulder, it just says Boulder in one place and Denver in the other. But otherwise the pages are exactly the same. Another scenario is where you have multiple URL’s that point to the same exact page, e.g. a dynamic site. So those are two times when you have duplicate content within a site.

Fishkin: So would you call that a filter or would you call that a penalty, do you discriminate between the two?
Fox: There is no penalty. We don’t apply any kind of penalty to a site that has that situation. I think people get more worried than they should about it because they think oh no, there’s going to be a penalty on my site because I have duplicate content. But what is going to happen is some kind of filtering, because in the search results page we want to show relevant, useful pages instead of showing ten URLs that all point to the same page – which is probably not the best experience for the user. So what is going to happen is we are going to only index one of those pages. So if you don’t care, in the instance where there are a lot of URLs that all point to the same exact page, if you don’t care which one of them is indexed then you don’t have to do anything, Google will pick one and we’ll index it and it will be fine.

Fishkin: So let’s say I was looking for the optimal Google experience and I was trying to optimize my site to the best of my ability, would I then say well maybe it isn’t so good for me to have Google crawling my site pages I know are duplicates (or very similar), let me just give them the pages I know they will want?
Fox: Right, so you can do that, you can redirect versions…we can figure it out, it’s fine, we have a lot of systems. But if you care which version of the site is indexed, and you don’t want us to hit your site too much by crawling all these versions, then yeah, you might want to do some things, you can submit sitemaps and tell us which version of the page you want, you can do a redirect, you can block with robots, you can not serve us session IDs. I mean there’s a lot of different things you could do in that situation. In the situation where the pages are just very similar, it’s sort of a similar situation where you want to make the pages as unique as possible. So that’s sort of a different solution to the similar sort of problem. You want to go, ok, how can I make my page about Boulder, different from my page about Denver, or maybe I just need one page about Colorado if I don’t have any information about the other two pages.

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Tagging WordPress Pages with Ultimate Tag Warrior

I’ve blogged before about the SEO benefits of tagging blog posts. For those bloggers using WordPress, I recommend the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin to accomplish this.

But what if you have a WordPress-powered site and you want to tag static Pages, not just Posts? Well I have some good news! Even though Ultimate Tag Warrior doesn’t currently support tagging of Pages, I managed to figure out a workaround. The hack (to version 3.14159 of the plugin) involves the addition of a mere two lines of code…


Optimizing through Image Sharing Sites – SES Presentation

Here is the full Comparison Chart of Image Sharing Sites which I mentioned in my presentation on Optimizing through Image Sharing Sites at the SES Chicago ’06 Conference. Also, here is my PowerPoint presentation on Optimizing Through Image Sharing Sites.

There are quite a lot of Image Sharing Sites out there currently, but only a few of them stand out as best-in-class for potential SEO benefit purposes. Read on for a few more notes about this.


Dinner at Moto

So, I took Stephan Spencer out to a restaurant here in Chicago tonight that I was dying to try out: Moto Restaurant. We’re both here for the SES Conference, and it’s my first time in Chicago proper, so I wanted to try something I couldn’t get at home in Dallas. Moto had caught my eye because the chef, Homaro Cantu, is apparently something of a mad scientist. He’s known for using all sorts of bizarre ingredients and methods to create his food, and the place has this dangerously edgy feel to it that makes you feel like you’re engaging in borderline risky behaviour, just by eating there.

If you know Stephan, you might know that he tends to prefer simpler food in general, so he nearly balked at the idea of going. Once we’d arrived and had the first course or so, I think he was starting to think that the whole thing might be some horrifying Fu Manchu torture, or perhaps a really bad joke on my part. Read on for more details.


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