Why I Don’t Follow
Well, I never followed “the herd,” but this is not really about following other people – it’s about the “do-follow” movement that’s becoming quite popular.
I recently came across some posts and groups discussing the pros and cons of having a do-follow plug-in installed on a WordPress blog that passes the pagerank to the commenter’s blog.
You may also want to check what Darren Rowse had to say in the comments of the latter post.
One of the more popular bloggers to advocate do-follow is Andy Beard. Two posts worth reading on this topic are:
If I am to play the Google game and be successful at it, then I have to check what Google thinks about links and make up my own mind.
I haven’t read any official statement from Google on this (if anyone has a link, please post it), but I know this:
1. Google is getting more and more aggressive on all sorts of paid links and is penalizing buyers and sellers of links in various ways.
2. Google also wants to have all links that exist because of some compensation, set to no-follow too.
3. Google’s algorithm is based (partially) on pagerank, which relies on incoming links.
In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A for page B. But, Google looks at considerably more than the sheer volume of votes (or links) a page receives; for example, it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.” Using these and other factors, Google provides its views on a page’s relative importance.
Now think about this.
Getting a one-way link from an established site is a huge vote of confidence that should be GIVEN by the owner of that website.
It shouldn’t be TAKEN by another website (just by commenting).
If a link is given to unique content on a trustworthy website, it complements and enriches the page from which the link is given.
So in reality, getting a quality link is DAMN hard.
There are no shortcuts for getting good-quality links. Your site needs to have REALLY useful information or service in order to gain natural links from authority sites.
Now consider the do-follow movement.
Sure, most of these guys will quickly spot a spammy comment just for the sake of link juice and remove it, but it’s still very, very easy to get a high-quality link from an established site.
One thing is 100% sure.
This is NOT how Google wants the links game to be played.
The idea of links as references and votes of confidence originates from the offline world.
It’s similar to having trustworthy references and recommendations from authority businesses and people when, for example, you look for a new job.
You probably had to work for those companies for years and be very good at what you do in order to get their letters of recommendation, which you can then show to your potential boss.
This is what it takes to get a reference in an offline world. And this is how Google would like to have links used in the online world.
Before Andy Beard or Michael Martine includes a natural link to my blog, it will take a lot of effort and useful content to convince them that I am worthy of this link.
And this is when Google will also say: “Hey, if those guys vote for this little blog, then it must be really good. Let’s move it a few spots higher in the rankings.”
And what does the do-follow movement do with this idea?
It totally destroys it.
I can get high-quality links from the above-mentioned blogs, just by commenting or even just by linking back to them like I did in this post.
And Andy, Michael and other webmasters that I linked from this post will very likely approve of the trackback, since I hope this post also gives some interesting topics to think about.
And bingo – I’ve got another three or five high-quality links to my blog.
Now how can Google really tell which websites really deserve to rank highly and which don’t?
All this do-follow stuff is just messing with its algorithm, and I am afraid we don’t have much power against the Google gorilla.
Some of the do-follow blogs have already been penalized and are returning back to no-follow again.
I won’t even start.
The only possibility that I have been considering for a while is the trackback do-follow plug-in, which allows you to return the link love given by someone who links to you.
I have to think about this a little more and what would Google think about it….
Before you start commenting and sharing your thoughts on this topic, I want to show you two pages:
1. A typical Amazon.com product page with customer reviews:
2. A typical cell phone reviews site with consumer reviews at the bottom of the review:
Neither of these sites gives any backlinks to the reviewers.
Most reviewers don’t even have an idea what a backlink is.
And yet you can see over 700 (!) reviews of the Eureka vacuum and 100 reviews of the Sony Ericsson k850i phone.
The reviewers didn’t get anything in return, except the chance to see their opinion and their name on a website.
What about bloggers?
Can you give something without asking for anything in return?
Can you comment, like these 800 people, just to share your thoughts and perhaps help other people make a better choice?
I think the do-follow movement is not the right thing to do.
The few words that you are going to receive on your post from comments are not really worth the full link juice – in Google’s opinion.
Google’s algorithm, in my opinion, is based on a sound idea and I’m not going to make it even more difficult for them to sort out which links are real links (based on my trust), and which links are based on comments that I may approve just to get a few more words on my site.
I won’t follow. What about you?