Search Results for: nofollow

Digg adds nofollow to some links

Digg recently added nofollow to some links on their site:

We’ve added rel=”nofollow” to any external link that we’re not sure we can vouch for. This includes all external links from comments, user profiles and story pages below a certain threshold of popularity.

I think this is pretty smart. Digg isn’t adding nofollow to everything, just the links that they’re less sure about. Once a story looks real to them, I can imagine that they would lift the nofollow. I discussed this for Google web properties in a recent video:

Google does something similar with Knol. Initially Knol authors received nofollow’ed links, but as we gain more trust in authors, we can remove those nofollows. As I recently said in another video, if a site like Wikipedia had good confidence in an editor, you could imagine links made by that editor not having the nofollow attribute. So if you have a way to determine which user-generated links are trustworthy, that could be a more nuanced measure of when to use the nofollow attribute. I discussed this subject a bit more in this video in case you’re interested. It’s about 1:24 into the video:

So new move by Digg is a positive change in my opinion, because Digg decreases the benefit for spammy stories but Digg still helps normal and high-quality stories in the search engines.

Twitter added nofollow to “www.” links in their Bio field

Yesterday John Battelle emailed me to ask about Rae’s post. This will be a little inside baseball to some people who don’t live and breathe search and Twitter, but I figured I’d take what I emailed to John, add some pictures, and post it here. Here’s the email:

Sorry for the delay in replying; I’m really behind on email because I’ve been talking about Chrome this past week.

The short answer is that back in July I saw this post . David Naylor was pointing out that Twitter intentionally nofollowed links in the “Web” part of a Twitter profile, but that you could embed a link in the “Bio” field that would flow PageRank:

Excerpt from DaveN post about twitter

Dave’s blog is read by a bunch of SEOs, including quite a few blackhats, so it was pretty clear to me that Twitter might get hit by spammers who jumped onto Twitter just to get PageRank, or by bots who signed up a ton of accounts automatically trying to get links.

I wasn’t sure of Evan Williams’ email address, so I took my best guess at two of Evan’s emails and dropped Evan a quick note pointing out Dave’s post and that spammers might start attacking Twitter soon because of this. Because I wasn’t sure of Evan’s email, I also sent Evan a Twitter saying “@ev, dropped you an email about (the post that Dave did)” That was all in July, and I forgot about it.

Evidently just in the last few days, Twitter changed that Bio link to a nofollow link. A few thoughts:

– My guess is that spammers have started to attack Twitter more, probably at least partially to get links/PageRank. In an August post at , Biz Stone mentioned that Twitter was hiring their first full-time spam fighter. For a company of ~25 people, a full-time spamfighter is a lot of resources. Evan/Biz have seen how dedicated spammers can hurt users’ experiences at Blogspot, so I imagine that they want to keep Twitter really clean and lock out any spammers early.

– It could be that as part of the process of looking at spam attacks on Twitter, the Twitter team asked “What are the incentives for people to spam Twitter? Are we leaking links to spammy sites anywhere?” If they were asking those sorts of questions, it makes sense if they decided to nofollow the Bio link to prevent spam accounts from attacking Twitter.

– I dropped Evan an email about Dave’s post just as a heads-up in July in case he wasn’t aware of it, but people have been talking about gaming Twitter for links even before that, e.g. :

Excerpt from nickwilsdon post about twitter

and there’s another post someone did in March called “Gaming Twitter for Thousands Of Backlinks”:

Excerpt from nickycakes post about twitter

By the way, I totally support if Evan wanted to lift nofollow for real users in some way, but I figure that Twitter probably wanted to protect themselves against spam as a first step. Given that a month or so after I dropped them a note, Twitter hired a full-time spam person, I’m not surprised if Twitter was starting to see more spammers show up and wanted to take strong action to push back on spam as a first step–if Twitter got gummed up with spam that would be bad for everybody. Perhaps down the road they’ll look at ways to keep flowing PageRank to real users while not opening themselves to a spam attack. I would imagine that they have pretty good signals that would let them separate (most) real users from (most) bots/spammers. So Twitter could take steps such that most users would still get PageRank by removing the nofollow on sufficiently non-spammy users.

Best wishes,

That’s what I sent to John by email, minus the pictures.