The concept of the terminology rel = “no follow” is HTML attribute, it is used for instructing search engines to avoid using hyper links for influencing link ranking in search engines’ index. The objective behind its usage is to reduce the spread of search engine spam thereby improving the quality of search engine results. The attribute “no follow” was originally designed to stop comments on blogs. This attribute value does not imply that it blocks access to content and prevents them from being indexed by search engines. However, the manner in which the attribute is interpreted differs between search engines as some of them literally do not follow the links to the pages the site has been linked to while other search engines still “follow” the links to locate new pages for indexing. The term rel = “no follow” is considered an elemental micro format that implies a hyperlink destination which has this tag should not be ranked by user agents who perform link analysis on web pages. This action indicates that links developed by third party web users like commentators on blogs or links that though being hyperlinks of websites avoids endorsing the same.
Search engines like Google on noticing websites with the rel = “no follow” tag on hyperlinks would not credit search engine ranking to these websites. This effort was executed by major players in search engines and blog space who wanted to prevent content spam. This activity does not imply that the site presents negative content. It is only a method of ensuring that spammers do not benefit from abusing public areas like blogosphere, comments and referral lists. Many web software communities have quickly adopted this attribute while other search engines like Yahoo and MSN have supported this initiative. Some guidelines on “no follow” tag are :
01) Link change – Any link that a user creates automatically on a website gets a new “no follow” attribute. In the event of a blog spammer who had previously added a comment which was worded as “discount pharmaceuticals”, the comment would now be identified as rel = “no follow” “discount pharmaceuticals site”.
02) The type of links that get this attribute : The leading search engines like Yahoo and Google encourage websites to use rel = “no follow” attribute wherever users add links on their own including “within comments”, “track backs” and many other similar sites. As comment areas receive maximum attention from web traffic, it becomes mandatory to secure such locations where web users can add a link. This step also prevents spammers from operating extensively.
03) Implementing rel = “no follow” on the link’s own comment page : This issue in search engines have met with diverse opinions as some search engine believe that the “comment area” is the platform where interesting discussions take place. In this context, it can be noted that if other web users link to the comments page, the search engine robot can follow the link. This would help in identifying whether the comments page is a spam. The most effective place to add this attribute is the actual links that are created by web users.
04) Individual bloggers are advised not to add any further comments as the updating software works regularly, it would ensure that those who are generating content spam would be disallowed from being linked to a particular website. The software also ensures that bloggers receive such changes in their website automatically.