David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

Archive for the ‘Yahoo’ Category

Look who follows NoFollow links!

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Earlier this year, I speculated on how the search engines treat NoFollow links.  For those who might be a little green, NoFollow links are not totally ignored by the search engines.  For those who really, really green, NoFollow links are believed to be totally ignored by the search engines (because they have the rel=”nofollow” attribute in the link code).

So we ran a little experiment. 

A client of ours had a fully developed website that has never been used.  Not a single link points to this website, so in the eyes of the search engines, it should not exist. 

It was not indexed at Yahoo. It should go without saying that Yahoo displayed no backlinks.

The site was indexed at Google.  (How, why and whether Google should index orphan sites that have not been released to the public is a topic for another post.) Google showed no backlinks, but the site did rank #8 at Google for one very important search, based primarily on the name of the domain. It did not show up in the top 100 for a few other key searches. All searches are for local terms specific to a certain city, so they are moderately low competition.

For three weeks, we posted comments on NoFollow blogs (yes, intelligent comments reflecting the specific content of the blog posts) to create a steady stream of NoFollow links, without creating any DoFollow or “normal” hyperlinks.

Were the NoFollow links followed?

At the end of week 4, we found Yahoo had indexed the website and showed 51 backlinks.  All of these are NoFollow links. The more important searches were all showing in the top 20, one as high as position #6. Remember that these are moderately low-competition, local searches, but this is all on the strength of a few weeks of exclusively NoFollow links.

Google showed no backlinks after 4 weeks.  No surprise there; Google is very sporadic with if, when, how and which sampling of backlinks it chooses to display. The ranking at position #8 had not changed, but a couple other search terms were now ranking at Google, one of them as high as position #11. Again, this is exclusively on the strength of NoFollow blog comments.

What can we conclude about NoFollow links?

NoFollow links still obviously count at Yahoo.  Do they count as much as DoFollow links?  A more complicated experiment might help answer that question.  Anyone feel like taking up the challenge?

NoFollow links also appear to count at Google.  Or perhaps some do and others don’t, depending on other factors Google might use to rate links from specific domains. However, we can be sure that Google does follow at least some NoFollow links.

The conclusion I would draw from this is that people really should not focus on the NoFollow/DoFollow issue. Build links that are officially followable when you can, but don’t let a NoFollow attribute in a page’s links dissuade you from creating a link you would otherwise pursue.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

How Is NoFollow Data Treated By The Search Engines?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

In theory, the search engines don’t follow links with the NoFollow attribute attached. That’s what NoFollow means. However, anybody who has been checking backlinks for multiple websites (for example, if you have many SEO clients, prospective SEO clients, competitor websites, etc.) will notice that Yahoo lists many NoFollow links as backlinks (I wrote about this last year, too.). I have seen this at Google (I believe in Webmaster Tools, but my memory is not certain on this point – sorry). 

If the search engines index NoFollow links, it is possible they use the data (otherwise, why waste so much computing resources indexing them?), despite that purpose of the NoFollow attribute being that the links should not count in their algorithms. This post speculates on how the search engines might use this data. 

A Partial History of NoFollow

Seasoned SEO experts can skip this section. It is intended for newbies, and it is only partial because I am sure I am missing out some details.

Before there were blogs, there were guest books. Guest books were like prehistoric Web 2.0 . They allowed website owners to create some form of user interaction with otherwise pamphlet-like websites. They engaged the user. They created stickiness. Best of all, they were set-it-and-forget-it, so many website owners thought “why not?”

Spammers quickly learned that they could drop links in guest books, which were often unmonitored. The extent to which this was happening reached near epidemic proportions to the extent that serious SEO specialists were leery of leaving any links in guest books for fear of having their websites penalized for spamming. Search engines were concerned because any mass linking scheme threatens to skew the quality of the search results they present their clientele – the searchers.

The search engines were let off the hook by the website owners. Those who did not moderate their guest books were disgusted by the spam. Those who did moderate their guest books were frustrated by the spam. For a low- or no-maintenance tool, guest books were proving to be a pain without any obvious benefit (such as increase in sales).

In truth, blogs came along and offered a much better way to engage visitors in a two-way conversation. Blogs offered a venue for opinionated and chatty webmasters to engage with visitors, and the blog CMS was much easier to handle than an “articles” section on the website (especially because many bloggers found they could dispense with pesky technicalities like grammar and even staying on-topic.). Blogs also offered a much more obvious business benefit than guest books – search engine rankings, which could be translated into increased sales.

It wasn’t long before blog comment spam had replaced guest book spam. But this time, the search engines would not be let off the hook. Blogs had so many obvious benefits and so much more invested in them that, instead of petering out, they kept proliferating. Indeed, each blog spawns hundreds or even thousands of pages, each one fertile for dropping a spammy link in a comment. And many blog owners were (and still are) lazy, allowing comments to be automatically posted without moderation. NOTE: This blog is moderated, and I use a DoFollow plugin. If your comment is worthwhile, your link will count. If your comment is not worthwhile, sorry.

Many bloggers became alarmed at all the spammy links, and were worried that they might be penalized for linking to bad neighborhoods. That’s why the search engines created the NoFollow attribute. And if you believe that, I have some superb oceanfront property on the moon that might interest you for a surprisingly reasonable price.

In fact, search engines were once again concerned because as I said earlier any mass linking scheme threatens to skew the quality of the search results they present their clientele – the searchers – and mass automatedblog comment spam was showing no sign of slowing down.

The search engines gave everybody, not just bloggers, a simple means to indicate when an outbound link from their website should not be followed by the search engines because it is not a link in which they have placed trust. Basically, the whole point of NoFollow is to eliminate user-generated links from the algorithms, since those links cannot be considered as “votes” for the sites being linked to by the sites doing the linking.

So Why Are Search Engines Indexing NoFollow Links?

 This is a puzzle. If the search engines created NoFollow to tell their robots not to follow, obviously something has changed since then, because they are following. But do the links affect the rankings? Here are a few theories of how the search engines might be using the data. These are highly speculative, so feel free to throw in your own speculations into the comments below.

  1. One obvious theory is that the search engines are not using this data at all in their rankings.
  2. A second theory is that the search engines are using the links to determine relevancy (a link from a comment on an SEO blog to my website helps the search engines confirm that my website is about SEO), but that the links do not count toward link popularity or PageRank.
  3. A third theory is that the search engines have built into their algorithms a process for selecting which NoFollow links they should include in their algorithm calculations. For instance, they might choose to follow all Wikipedia NoFollow links, but no MySpace NoFollow links.
  4. A fourth theory is that the search engines use NoFollow external links to dampen their trust rating of a website. If a website owner has lots of external links that it is not willing to trust, that is one signal that the linking website itself is not all that trustworthy. Makes sense for MySpace. Bummer for Wikipedia (but I’ve voiced my opinion on Wikipedia’s abuse of the NoFollow attribute before).
  5. A fifth theory is that the search engines use NoFollow internal links to dampen their trust rating of a website. Unlike some of these theories, this one makes sense. After briefly experimenting with internal NoFollow internal links on one of my websites, I removed them all. Think what message it sends the search engines about the quality of your website if you say you can’t trust your own web pages.
  6. A sixth theory is that search engines do not use NoFollow links directly in their rankings, but that they are included somehow in a link profile establishing a website’s level of activity on the Web.

I would like to hear your comments and theories. I should note that I have not researched this post in any great deal, because it really is just speculation. I wrote it while my daughters danced last weekend, and there is no WiFi there. So feel free to add your theories and enlighten me and our readers if you know of any great sources that can shed some light on this.

You can easily tweet this post by clicking Retweet This

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Yahoo and web design quality

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

A recent patent application by Yahoo makes it clear that it has plans to look at the quality of a web page in terms of layout and design as part of its ranking algorithm.  Careful – I did not say that it does or it will, just that it has plans.Yahoo’s reasoning is solid.  A web page that is full of clutter, where it’s hard to find where to go, if not a page that will please the searcher.  And Yahoo, like all search engines, wants to please the searcher.In its patent application, Yahoo lists 52 elements it might consider when deciding whether a web page is cluttered or not.

  • Total number of links
  • Total number of words
  • Total number of images (non-ad images)
  • Image area above the fold (non-ad images)
  • Dimensions of page
  • Page area (total)
  • Page length
  • Total number of tables
  • Maximum table columns (per table)
  • Maximum table rows (per table)
  • Total rows
  • Total columns
  • Total cells
  • Average cell padding (per table)
  • Average cell spacing (per table)
  • Dimensions of fold
  • Fold area
  • Location of center of fold relative to center of page
  • Total number of font sizes used for links
  • Total number of font sizes used for headings
  • Total number of font sizes used for body text
  • Total number of font sizes
  • Presence of “tiny” text
  • Total number of colors (excluding ads)
  • Alignment of page elements
  • Average page luminosity
  • Fixed vs. relative page width
  • Page weight (proxy for load time)
  • Total number of ads
  • Total ad area
  • Area of individual ads
  • Area of largest ad above the fold
  • Largest ad area
  • Total area of ads above the fold
  • Page space allocated to ads
  • Total number of external ads above the fold
  • Total number of external ads below the fold
  • Total number of external ads
  • Total number of internal ads above the fold
  • Total number of internal ads below the fold
  • Total number of internal ads
  • Number of sponsored link ads above the fold
  • Number of sponsored link ads below the fold
  • Total number of sponsored link ads
  • Number of image ads above the fold
  • Number of image ads below the fold
  • Total number of image ads
  • Number of text ads above the fold
  • Number of text ads below the fold
  • Total number of text ads
  • Position of ads on page

 This is actually a superb website review checklist.  Go through your website and see how it stacks up on most of these items.  Keep in mind that there are reasons you might want to violate some of these principles, but in general you would want your website to meet most of these criteria in order to please your visitors and convert them into customers.  And soon, you might also please Yahoo.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Yahoo Violating NoFollow Attribute?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The nofollow attribute is supposed to mean no follow.  More specifically, the major search engines have committed to not following any link that has a nofollow attribute attached.  So why do we see Yahoo following links from comments in Matt Cutts blog?  Here is an example of where Yahoo’s SiteExplorer lists at least two comments in blog posts as backlinks: https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.seobuzzbox.com&bwm=i&bwmo=d&bwmf=u

Check the source code in the blog:

<a href=’http://www.seobuzzbox.com’ rel=’external nofollow’>Aaron Pratt</a>

Here is another example:  https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thinkseer.com&bwm=i&bwmo=d&bwmf=u

Do those links factor into Yahoo’s algorithm?  Who knows?  But just the fact that they are being reported…

Saaaaayy … this wouldn’t be one of those tricks to mess with webmasters’ minds, would it?  Like that silly green PageRank bar that means so little and has cost so many sleepless nights and missed link exchanges?

I would love to hear your opinions on this. 
  

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Certificate Error Message

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Have you ever been to visit a website only to get a message in your browser window saying the site has a certificate error and recommending that you do not visit the site?  I wonder how many people are scared off from this. 

One of the sites I manage has always had this problem when accessing the control panel.  I know there is no danger, so it doesn’t stop me, but it does mean an extra irritating click every time.  And it does not affect users, just me.  Yes, Microsoft has probably been watching me for years, carefully waiting for the right moment to strike.

Anyway, today I noticed that Yahoo’s SiteExplorer sub-sub-domain gives the same error.  I assume it will be “fixed” soon, but it is heartening to know that even one of the biggest websites on the planet gets this kind of annoying bug, too. 

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).

Close