“nofollow” or not to “nofollow” that is the question

Effectively promoting your “brand” is an increasingly difficult task in today’s online marketplace, with large corporate sites and Joe Bob’s mini-sites  saturating the Internet with 10,000 of everything it is getting more and more difficult to differentiate yourself from the rest of the code floating around on the web. Quality cross site marketing and promotion is becoming more and more important with every passing day. Using your website to promote or endorse another site, especially when reciprocated, is an excellent way for quality sites to help each other and to improve the overall user experience by providing access to relevant and preferably related information on other sites.

There has been some talk lately about whether or not to use the nofollow attribute on off site links, I personally choose not to use it on my sites simply because I appreciate my readers and value their contributions to the community. If someone is going to take the time to comment on my posts, with value adding commentary that increases the overall appeal of my site to others, I feel the least I can do is give them a link back to their site. I know there are some who don’t agree with me on this, but there are many more every day that are jumping onto the “dofollow” bandwagon.

The nofollow attribute was originally promoted by Google as a way to control the flow of pagerank and limit the effect of spam on the net but in my opinion it has taken on a whole new identity recently as more of a “whats mine is mine, go find your own” type of practice. The fears of pagerank dilution or the effects of spammy off site links can be effectively controlled by properly moderating your site, as with any business, it is the owners responsibility to look after things and to keep a tidy ship. By encouraging active participation one is a lot more likely to gain a loyal group of readers that will not only come back again, but will also bring in more traffic through direct and indirect referrals.

For anyone that uses WordPress for their site, there is a very easy to use plugin available called nofollow-free that works very well and is the one I choose to use on my WordPress sites. I try to support other sites that don’t nofollow their links as well, just don’t post bad links or abuse the system and I will approve all relevant comments, I will gladly share the “love” with your site. Additionally, I have also started to use a plugin called Comment-Luv that lets those who post comments have a link to their last blog post (if they have one, or choose to list the post) that works very well and adds another means to reward your commentators.

As always, if you have anything to add to the discussion, please feel free to comment and get yourself a nofollow free link here :-) and if you are interested in an easy way to know if a site uses the nofollow tag on their links simply download SEO4Firefox which is a great plugin for a great browser.