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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Stripped of Rank

As predicted a few days ago (and already mentioned all over the place), Google has announced a new feature to discourage comment spam.

Adding rel="nofollow" to a link tells Google to ignore it and therefore not boost the PageRank of the linked site. Spammers have been abusing weblog comments and discussion boards to improve their search rankings; this new attribute is intended to remove that incentive.

All the major blogging software companies have announced support, and I’ve already added it to this site as a replacement for the redirect page I was using.

The downside is that suddenly the web has a new type of link and, given the selfish and cautious nature of many organisations, I predict we’ll see the following:

  • A few weblogs using nofollow as their default for links in their entries, occasionally choosing to graciously bestow the honour of PageRank upon selected favourites.
  • Numerous clients asking web developers to apply it to all external links in their sites. Looking at how most demand links open in new windows, this seems inevitable (why risk someone else getting higher search rankings when you can be selfish?).
  • Sites charging a fee for removal of the attribute (Russell Beattie’s already joked about this).

Let me know if you encounter any of those.

At some point I’ll possibly add a way for me to flag comments as being non-spam so they get nofollow removed. Inbound links from comments seemed to help both my sites get going when they were launched years ago, and it’d be a shame if this harmless trickle of PageRank was taken from everyone.


I think there's bound to be a certain amount of hording, but hopefully people will become less interested in doing it if people stop linking to them.

My friend Andy Budd has come up with a bookmarklet to highlight nofollow links so they are easy to spot. He's going to put it on his site soon, but it's also available at:…

if you want a look.

Paul Silver, 20th Jan, 12:09pm

I've spotted someone guilty of hoarding - me!

By linking to namesakes in this site's About section (… ) I was boosting their rankings, so I've selfishly added nofollow as part of my megalomaniacal scheme for complete domination of 'Matt Round' searches.

Matt Round, 29th Jan, 3:13pm

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