Why is everyone so mean? Put a link in your Twitter profile? Find a rel=nofollow attached to it. Want to link to your iOS app’s site via the app’s iTunes web page? Get rel=nofollow‘d. Drop a spam link in the comments of a blog you’ve never read before? BAM NOFOLLOW. What is so bad about allowing search engines to know two things are connected?

Look at some of Google’s policies with regard to nofollow links:

  • Untrusted content: If you can’t or don’t want to vouch for the content of pages you link to from your site — for example, untrusted user comments or guestbook entries — you should nofollow those links.
  • Paid links
  • Crawl prioritization

Which category does my Twitter profile link fall under? It’s certainly not paid. And it doesn’t fit the “Crawl prioritization” definition Google writes. So why is it considered “untrusted content”? Note: I’m not talking about links in tweets. Only profile links. Am I suggesting Twitter should review the site linked in every profile? Of course not, but what do they have to gain by nofollowing them? Sure, they’re helping prevent spammy profiles from going up by witholding Google juice, but what else? Don’t they have the spam thing figured out yet?

What about Verified Accounts? Can they evade the nofollow tax? (At the time of this writing, no, they cannot.) Spam isn’t a problem with verified accounts, so why not?

Same goes for an iOS/Mac app’s App Store web page. This is a lot like a verified Twitter account. The App Store review team already looks at the sites linked to an app to make sure they aren’t offering a cheaper price outside of the store. Is it harmful to show search engines a definitive connection between the app author’s site and his/her app?

The Good

Stack Overflow’s model of removing the nofollow attribute after a user has gained 2000 reputation is wonderful. It’s like an automated verification system that trusts its users.

Hacker News only nofollows links in comments.

Product Hunt is like the good ol’ days. Couldn’t find a nofollow anywhere on it.

If these highly-trafficked sites can give us honest people some link boostage, why can’t they all?