Why Nofollow Didn’t Work – A Different Perspective

I know, a cowboy hat would be more appropriate. At least it is black.It is no secret that the introduction of the rel=’nofollow’ completely failed to stop, or at least decrease link spam on blogs, forums and similar sites. The possible reasons, and the negative effects of Nofollow on legitimate users, have been discussed to death, but still I feel there is one aspect of the problem that has been overlooked.

As I might have mentioned before, I regularly lurk in some blackhat forums where link & comment spamming techniques and tools are discussed by spammers (and wannabe-blackhats). And – guess what? – most of them have no desire to spam their links on sites that use Nofollow. They are well aware that those links would be discounted by search engines. In fact, some blackhats would gladly pay a lot of money for a tool that could find DoFollow sites for them to spam.

The problem is there’s no easy way for a spammer to tell if a blog (or another site) nofollow’s their comments. It’s not like there’s some kind of flag the spambot could check and go : “Oh, they’re using nofollow here! I think I’ll just leave this site alone, then.” While it is possible to analyze existing comments and see if the links are followed, most “widely known” spamming tools don’t have this feature. Such a function would be hard to implement – you need to find a post that has comments, differentiate between author’s and visitors’ comments, et cetera.

Provided that link spamming is relatively “cheap” in terms of financial and resource costs, the sinister blackhatters will therefore spam everyone and hope that some of their linkspam lands on the websites that don’t use Nofollow. Plus there are also some fringe benefits to be gained even from nofollowed links, like getting a few more gullible human visitors.

This doesn’t mean that the DoFollow-supporters are helping keep spam alive… right?

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2 Responses to “Why Nofollow Didn’t Work – A Different Perspective”

  1. iDope says:

    IMO, this is why nofollow doesn’t work. Why would spammers waste their time removing nofollow blogs from their lists when it takes less time to spam them? And even with nofollow they might get some click traffic. Comment spam is hardly different from its email cousin. Its a game of numbers. Both are profitable even with a low success rate.

    My $0.02

  2. White Shadow says:

    Indeed. I hadn’t thought of that aspect before, but now that you mention it, the similarity with email spam is remarkable.

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