The ‘No Follow’ Dilemma

By Kevin Muldoon | Blogging

Jun 16

As regular Blogging Tips commentators know, i removed the no follow link from Blogging Tips 2 months ago. This means that page rank will be given to the blogs and websites of those who post a comment.

As i stated before, i’m baffled why so many bloggers made a fuss about this as any page rank benefit from commentating will be pretty low and bloggers should be trying to raise their page rank via advertising and writing good posts. However, i was more than happy to remove the ‘no follow’ link cos it was no skin off my nose!!!

I have been thinking more and more about making money through this blog since the next google update is only 6 weeks away (around late July or early August) – this update is significant for Blogging Tips as the update will give the site its first page rank and it will allow me to sell text links and reviews etc here (don’t worry, any sponsored reviews i do will be related to blogging).

It’s clear to me now that i have shot myself in the foot in a way as outgoing page rank on blog post pages will be very low and this is giving any advertisers who advertise here a raw deal. I’m sure i would still sell my advertising inventory even with the no follow link removed however they would not receive the page rank they should be getting. I have always tried to be 100% honest with advertisers on the sites i own and have did everything i can to have a good working relationship with them so this is something that concerns me.

Why blogs who remove the ‘No Follow’ Link are giving their sponsors a raw deal

Most bloggers i know don’t know how the page rank system works…yet they are still obsessed with it!!!

I’ll give you a tip – if a blog with a pr of 7 promises you a link back to your blog for linking to them then it isn’t as great a deal as you think because

  1. Your link will be in a post page ie. your link may be on the pr 7 page for a few days but the second it leaves the home page and enters the archives it will be on a page with a pagerank between 4 and 7 (most blogs post pages have a page rank 1 or 2 less than their main page). Therefore you aren’t really getting a link from a page rank 7 page….well you are, but only for a few days!!!
  2. The page rank share which your blog will receive will be extremely low because so many links are on the page. This is particularly true for those pointless ‘review me for a link back’ campaigns (if you want to know more about my opinion on this please read this post!). I’m sorry to break it to you guys but if you have taken part in one of these campaigns the only party who has benefited is the blog who got the review.

My first thought was to write a long post explaining page rank and to drill it into bloggers that you should be looking for text links on websites and blogs which will give you a good amount of page rank back. However, whilst looking for a good graph that shows you how PR is distributed i came across this page : How Page Rank Works.

I strongly encourage you all to read that page before reading the rest of my post. Specifically, i want you guys to pay attention to the part which explains how page rank is distributed on the web.

a page’s PageRank = 0.15 + 0.85 * (a “share” of the PageRank of every page that links to it)

“share” = the linking page’s PageRank divided by the number of outbound links on the page.

A page “votes” an amount of PageRank onto each page that it links to. The amount of PageRank that it has to vote with is a little less than its own PageRank value (its own value * 0.85). This value is shared equally between all the pages that it links to.

From this, we could conclude that a link from a page with PR4 and 5 outbound links is worth more than a link from a page with PR8 and 100 outbound links. The PageRank of a page that links to yours is important but the number of links on that page is also important. The more links there are on a page, the less PageRank value your page will receive from it.

A fantastic website which can be used to show you this in practice is gives you the page rank of a website and also the value of page rank that is shared to the links on the page. The only thing i can criticise it for is that most websites stats are only updated once a month, however it’s still a great tool for seeing how much page rank you will get by getting linked on a page.

An example of how Page Rank is Distributed

Here’s an example to clarify what i have been talking about. I’m gonna compare two websites using URL Trends, namely the evil genius John Chow and the not so evil homepage of my own website network System0.

  • John Chow – Page Rank 6. Outgoing Links: 102 (Ratio: 32.941% – Each Link Receives Approx. 0.050 PR)
  • System0 – Page Rank 3. Outgoing Links: 10 (Ratio: 3.000% – Each Link Receives Approx. 0.255 PR)

As you can see from the above example, because my PR 3 site is only linking to 10 sites each link receives 0.255PR. Therefore you would receive over 5 times as much page rank from a link on System0 than on JohnChow.

The above example should explain to you how page rank is distributed but it does not take into effect many other factors. I want you guys to understand the full picture so allow me to clarify some things about the above example.

  • System0 gets between 50-100 unique visits a day. I’m not 100% sure of Johns traffic but i’d hazard a guess that it’s between the 5000 and 10,000 mark ie. he gets about 100 times more traffic than System0!
  • If you for some strange reason the traffic of a site wasn’t a concern and all you wanted was PR then if you had to buy a link on just the homepage of one of these sites then you would have to choose System0 since it gives you around 5 times as much PR. However, John’s advertisers get a link on every page on his blog. As i write this post he currently has 1,645 posts. If you count his home page, his subpages and his categories and archives the numbers probably closer to 1,800. Therefore you’d be getting linked on around 1,800 pages on his blog. If you go back to the ‘how page rank works’ page i referred you to before you will remember that your pagerank is equal to 0.15 + 0.85 * (a “share” of the PageRank of every page that links to it). Therefore, if you advertised on John Chow you would only receive 0.050PR per link however you would receive that more than 1,800 times.

The ‘No Follow’ tag will soon return to Blogging Tips Comments

I apologise if i have discussed page rank a lot in this post (i know it bores some people to tears!) however it was impossible for me to explain my ‘no follow’ dilemma without first explaining why too many outgoing links is bad for advertisers.

Being honest, i’m a bit annoyed that i didn’t consider all of this when i removed the ‘no follow’ link. I knew that outgoing links would receive less PR but it didn’t affect me or my blog at the time so i was happy to do what the masses wanted. Clearly, i should have been thinking ahead. It might not be a major concern at first but if a blog post gets 100 comments thats 100 more links that advertisers have to share the PR with!

I know that there will be some of you out there reading this and thinking that i shouldn’t be concerned about all of this however as i said before, i want to be 100% honest with advertisers and i want to give them value for money when they advertise here.

I have decided that when BloggingTips does receive a pagerank i will add the ‘no follow’ back to the links of commentators blogs. It’s a little bit of a catch 22 for me but i do not want reader’s to think i am selling out. It’s nothing of the sort in my opinion. As well as advertiser’s receiving a higher PR share, blogs i link to in posts will receive a higher PR share too which i believe is fitting as it’s rewarding bloggers who have written good articles. As you know, i always give credit where credit is due and i like to link to good articles on blogs i read so for me it makes sense to increase the outgoing pagerank to sites i link to.

I’m sure that the return of the ‘no follow’ link will displease a percentage of commentators here – i don’t know how to say this without sounding like a bit of an asshole but if you only want to comment on blogs that have removed the ‘no follow’ tag you really haven’t been listening to anything I’ve written in the last 3 months. Page rank benefits from leaving a comment are extremely low and your time is better spent writing good posts (thats assuming you comment a lot to increase PR). Bloggers link to good posts – it’s that simple!

Link trains, ‘review me for a link back’ and similar methods of promotions only bring short spurts of untargeted traffic and another pointless post on your blog (think about how much value a link train type post will be to your visitor in 6 months).

I’ve mentioned in a few of my posts the last week or so that i am looking to get more subscribers here but you guys need to know – If you are looking for tips on getting traffic from link trains and ‘review me for a link’ campaigns etc you should probably unsubscribe as you will not ever see tips like that here… doubt ive just lost 100 subscribers as a result of that statement but i would rather not post than post about something which i consider to be a waste of your time!! πŸ˜‰

I do want to reward regular commentators here therefore when i remove the ‘no follow’ tag i am going to increase the number of top commentator’s links from 5 to 10 or even more.

Should you remove the ‘No Follow’ link for the benefit of your blogs advertisers?

First of all, i don’t want to preach to you guys that you should or should not use the ‘no follow’ tag in your blog comment links. I’m sure a lot of you were like me and jumped on the ‘no follow’ bandwagon but i hope i have shown you in this post that removing the ‘no follow’ tag isn’t really helping out your commentators that much.

Ultimately, you need to think about how you can reward your commentators but still pass a decent amount of pagerank to advertisers. Perhaps this is something that does not bother you or even those who advertise on your blog and if that’s the case feel free to remove the ‘no follow’ tag. Personally, i would encourage you all to provide as much information to potential advertisers and to do your best to develop a good working relationship with them.

It should be noted that if you do not get too many comments on your posts and you also have a lot of outgoing links on your sidebar, having a ‘no follow’ tag in your comment links will not make a huge difference to the Page Rank that advertisers receive (Note : The vast majority of links on the BloggingTips sidebar are internal therefore removing the tag will make a big difference).

Please leave a comment if you agree or disagree with this post. I welcome discussion and i will do my best to clarify anything that isn’t 100% clear in this post. If you are disappointed that the ‘no follow’ tag will soon be returning here then i would like to know the reason why? :)

Thanks for reading


About the Author

Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity and Social Media on his personal blog and provides support to bloggers at Rise Forums. He can also be found on Twitter @KevinMuldoon and .

Brian Heys June 16, 2007

An interesting post Kevin. I'll admit that I jumped on the bandwagon to give commenters what they wanted when I removed nofollow from my blog comments. I didn't really think about any long-term consequences.

I can see your reasoning behind wanting to add them back for the benefit of advertisers, but it's possible you could suffer a backlash of some kind from regular commenters as a result of doing so…

Still, swimming against the tide is usually a good thing. Think different!

Kevin June 16, 2007

if i suffer a backlash so be it. Obviously i dont want that but if i start posting what people want me to write instead of what is my opinion i might as well close the blog right now – right or wrong its what i believe to be true :)

however i dont believe readers here will react in a negative way. The fact remains, if they have understood what i have said about page rank in this post they will themselves be looking to advertise on blogs which dont have no follow removed.

as i said in my post, ill explain my reasoning with any part of this which is unclear :)

Celebrienne June 16, 2007

I thought about removing the "no follow" on my comments as well since my readers really don't like to comment on my blog somehow. Thank your for this post, I think it helped me to make a decision.

Your motifs are reasonable, so I don't mind as a reader. I think it's unfair only to write comments in order to receive a little link love. Hence, everybody who's unhappy with your decision unmasks himself/herself as a pure egoist. πŸ˜‰

Wallace June 16, 2007

Celebrienne said what i think. : )

Tobsy June 16, 2007

When Google updated their PR the last time, I had a blog that was less than 2 months old. One of the first plugins I installed was the dofollow.

At the time of the PR update only one post had a few comments and got a little link love. The blog got a PR2 (as was expected), but this one post is a PR5.

Jennifer June 16, 2007

I like to leave comments, so I like to think that I get more than I give for PR purposes. I am keeping my no-follow plug.

GoddessCarlie June 16, 2007

I have the "do follow" pluggin installed. My blog is fairly new still, and my visitors are starting to grow. I want to give these guys a little link love. To be honest, my visitors aren't really the "website" type if that makes sense. I'm finding most people who comment have personal livejournal and such, and over all i don't think my audience is too tech savy and wouldn't have a clue what this "no-follow" nonsense is about!

I think I'm sort of lucky in that regard, as I have been thinking that when my blog has reached a certain level I would love to get some advertisers, and I think removing the "do-follow" pluggin will cause little hoo haa if any at all.

As for this site and my opinion, again, it doesn't worry me. For one, readers of this blog will probably not be a target for my niche, so the link love doesn't matter so much. I'm enjoying visiting this site and watching it grow, as well as reading the posts you offer. So I'll continue to comment. (And anyway, if I continue the way I'm going and don't get lazy, I'm in the top commentator's anyway!)

Papa Rage June 16, 2007

From the sound of the post it seems to be assumed that your advertisers care about getting page rank from you. Is this true for you, that your advertisers are primarily paying for SEO rather than traffic, or is it an assumption you are making?

Angie June 16, 2007

I'm about community and readers, not just cash.

I can see commentors everywhere not commenting anymore. I suppose it is more beneficial for advertisers though.

Kumiko Suzuki June 16, 2007

I actually removed ‘do follow’ today before I saw this post. You’ve affirmed my reasoning and I’ll be posting myself on this very topic soon.

Jake June 16, 2007

I had honestly never realized this. On my current blog I’ve yet to remove it. I try to reward my readers and commenters other ways, such as my weekly links and my rBotw (random Blog of the wee).

Kevin June 16, 2007

Papa Rage – if you are trying to increase the page rank of your blog and you have set aside X amount of dollars to do so, this is a huge factor. As i stated in my post, its possible to get a bigger page rank to your blog from a website with a page rank of 5 compared to one which has a page rank of 6.

im glad everyone understands my reasoning – as brian said, there could have been a backlash but im glad most people appreciate where im coming from on this :)

Jamdo June 16, 2007

Why not just install on of the comment plugins that removes the nofollow for regular commenters who reach a set number of comments?

That way, people who just post a single comment for the PR, then leave don't get any PR benefit. Your advertisers dont' lose PR to them. And the regular community of commenters on your blog are (justifiably) rewarded too.

Your blog isn't ONLY about your advertisers.

Just an idea. :)

Sucuri Sucuri June 17, 2007

I'm sure there will be debates on this for a while now. Nonetheless, this was a great posting on page rank and provided some very useful tracking resources as well. Thanks!

GoddessCarlie June 17, 2007

Jamdo, this sounds like an awesome plugin that I haven't heard of. I'll have to search around for it.

Kevin June 17, 2007

Jamdo – i know the site isnt only about the advertisers. I dont believe that having a nofollow link on comments is treating readers badly in any way. I really dont believe that anyone should try and increase their page rank through commenting

i do want to reward commentators so a plugin and a top commentators list may be the best way to go however thats something i need to look into to. In the last 2 months someone has made dozens of comments in a matter of days and then not many any more comments again. Its very difficult to monitor this type of thing so that plugin could be a godsend.

Success Online June 17, 2007

I have implemented the no follow option on my blog as of late. As you know Kevin this is all new to me so I appreciate you starting this discussion and to everyone else who has put forth information.

There are so many variables to consider online and you are all making it a bit lighter.


Shane June 17, 2007

Well written Kevin,

I've never really seen the no-follow plugin as a PR benefit to anybody … not commentors, advertisers, or the host blog.

I think it's too often used as "marketing tool" just to get people to leave comments. In that sense it's great, because people believe there's real value there and leave comments. Which IS beneficial to the host blog.

The real rewards come from "meeting" people that leave comments, and then linking to a great post they wrote on their own blog from one of your posts.

Andy Beard June 18, 2007

This might be a good decision because you are leaking juice in so many other places, and at the same time you are not using your internal linking structure to channel juice to areas of your blog that need it.

Despite the additional external links, and John's poor linking structure to older content, the links from his blog compared to your example site are probably worth 100x more, depending on topical authority and a number of other factors.

Analyst June 18, 2007


Please give me html with do follow tag for "leave a comments" for blogger as I have a site catering for reviews Genuine Reviews for Sites and Blogs so that I can install do follow in my blog.

Randa Clay June 19, 2007

Thanks for this interesting write up on this topic. I hadn't really thought about this in quite this light before. I am interested in monetizing my site a little, and didn't fully understand how turning off nofollow might affect that. I will still leave it turned off, but I have a better view of the Google juice picture now. Thanks.

Jonathan Street June 30, 2007

Apologies if this has already been mentioned (I have a queue of a few hundred blog posts in my feed reader I want to get through so have skipped many of the comments) but with the recent changes to the Google Webmaster guidelines, and ignoring the idea that you should build your site for people and not search engines, shouldn't your advertiser urls be devalued with nofollow or some other similar approach to the point where they wouldn't be getting any PR anyway?

Presumably they're paying you for the link/advert and not to go through your review process.

Foxy June 22, 2008

I totally agree, i read a similar thing over at who outlined the same arguement

Msn July 10, 2008

When Google updated their PR the last time, I had a blog that was less than 2 months old. One of the first plugins I installed was the dofollow.

@cihataltunay February 3, 2011

templehealth, the information here is mostly relevant to using links in your blog posts.
My recent post Kurtlar Vadisi Pusu 111Bölüm 3 Şubat 2011

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