No going nofollow

In an attempt to "put my money where my mouth is", as it were, since I was crabbing away about not wanting to post on blogs sporting nofollow, I just attempted to remove nofollow from this blog. A search of the files showed that it was located in the wp-includes/functions-formatting.php file. I removed the references to nofollow, uploaded the file, viewed one of my pages, and what did I see?

rel="external nofollow"

Hmmm. I conducted several more searches of the entire folder containing WordPress. No references to nofollow at all. Hmmm. Checked to see if it was a cache problem, either with my browser(s) or on the server. Nope. Hmmm. I'm hoping that I'm just tired, and that somehow I've just missed something.

How to remove nofollow from WordPress

However, not wanting to install yet another plugin, I did find a little code over at Dean Edwards' blog that works perfectly. Just:

  1. copy it into the my-hacks.php file (make one if you don't have it),
  2. put it in the root folder where WordPress is located,
  3. tick the "Use legacy my-hacks.php file support" box in the WordPress control panel (Options =>Miscellaneous), and
  4. nofollow is gone

Thing is, I moderate this blog and, aside from anything else, I appreciate those who read my techie/artist ramblings and post here — and, thanks, but I don't care to denigrate their links. I think it's just plain rude.

So … has anyone else tried to remove nofollow from 2.0.5 and failed? What's up with that?

30 Comments to "No going nofollow"

  1. Brad says:

    Good for you Diane. What bugs me most about no follow is that it was billed as something different when it was presented to us in the masses and has since mutated into something completely different. I feel like it was a bait and switch.

    Frankly WordPress should have a switch in the admin panel and let the owner have a real choice on using no follow or not.

  2. Paul says:

    Good on yah. NoFollow did not reduce spam for me anyway.

  3. Diane Vigil says:

    You're right, Paul; nofollow didn't give us nospam no way. :)

    Brad, I have to agree with you. I figured that, like email filters that don't *stop* spam, nofollow would not stop the comment spam pretty much at all, and it hasn't.

    Interestingly (I guess), I made this same argument at the WordPress forums when WP started implementing nofollow into the program — and was essentially attacked by all but perhaps a couple of people. I was even accused of being a spammer — me! And then there was the anonymous poster who posted in threatening terms about the necessity of using nofollow; when I asked who he or she might be, given the threatening tone of his/her posts, there was no reply.

    I always wondered if it was a search engine rep. After all, Google, Yahoo and (I believe) MSN jumped on the nofollow bandwagon overnight (how many times have you seen them agree to anything at all?!) and they had to know that something as simple as nofollow was not going to solve the comment spam crisis. But what it would do is to help solve their reliance on links algorithm problem. And there you have it.

    Interestingly, our friend and HighRankings forum moderator Scottie Claiborne questioned Google regarding nofollow at Search Engine Strategies (my writeup here: Google on Nofollow), and said:

    They were very careful..

    I was the one who asked the question as to how they actually treat nofollow links.

    Putting a nofollow attribute on a link is "a vote of no confidence".


    IMO, if you have a page made up mostly of nofollow links… you obviously don't trust anything on that page. Why should they treat that page with any respect either?

    Those who use the nofollow tag are saying to the engines- "hey, you know, I don't know wtf is on this page and I didn't have anything to do with it." If you ran an engine, would you rank that page well…

    The funny thing is they are worried about blogspam. "Real" blogs don't get spammed. Do you think Nick would tolerate a bunch of spam link posts here? I don't think so..

    Anyway, it's a good read (see Scottie's post at Threadwatch).

    And a good call made by those of us who don't care to litter our websites with indications of low quality.

  4. Paul says:

    What really annoys me is when people decide that instead of using NoFollow to stop spam they will use a Captcha that takes 5 or 6 attempts to get correct.

  5. Diane Vigil says:

    That may be, Paul.

    I'd also used some word blocker code found in the WordPress forums and tweaked by my buddy, Darin, but it too caused posting problems. It is now gone.

    I'd suggest implementing Akismet — it works fantastically well in corralling comment spam. I haven't even had to get around to using Bad Behavior or anything else.

  6. Diane Vigil says:

    Thought I'd add this, from Aaron Wall's interview with DigitalGhost:

    Q: It seems Google in particular is placing a lot of weight on domain age and link authority related trust at the moment. Many people are leveraging this to spam Google via video hosting sites, social media sites, and attempts at mainstream media to get into consumer generated media. Where do you see Google going next with their algorithms?

    A: Semantic search. Nofollow is a bust. They created this huge link mess with their damn green bar and an easily exploited algo, and then they tried to clean it up with something as pathetic as nofollow.

    Clean, concise and well-said.

  7. Teli says:

    I'm a bit late to the conversation, but wanted to drop in and say excellent points Diane. When I decided to upgrade my blog, I did the same thing you did (deleted all reference of nofollow from the pages) and it seems to have worked.

    In case anyone else is going to try this method of messing with the core files, here are the files that were affected for me:

    comment-functions.php (del nofollow from line ~366)
    defaultfilters.php (comment out line ~28)
    functions-formatting.php (delete lines ~601-2 and comment out wp_rel_nofollow function, lines ~610-13)

    I've said it before, but I'll keep on saying it. It would just be great if the WP team decided to make the nofollow tag optional. Have it on by default, but allow the blogmaster to disable if they choose to from the admin.

    ~ Teli

  8. Diane Vigil says:

    Interesting, Teli. (And good to see you!)

    I'd tried to remove nofollow from this blog when I'd upgraded to 2.0.5, and was unable to do it after removing all the references I could (easily) find … which still left nofollow on the blog. That's why I went with the plugin.

    And, although I'd rather have the software do what I need it to do without installing plugins, I guess I'm pretty happy about it today because I've just upgraded a good handful of WordPress blogs to 2.0.6 — which meant not having to edit core files again.

    But I agree with you — the WP guys should make nofollow an option in the control panel.

  9. Andy Beard says:

    Teli just pointed me in the direction of another great blog to read.
    I suppose in some ways I am a "no nofollow" for comments evangelist and love it when people take action in removing it.
    At the same time I love using it for SEO purposes.

  10. Diane Vigil says:

    Hi, Andy — good to meet you.

    Since I still moderate comments (up to the point where I discover that Bad Behavior or Spam Karma plus Akismet make that unnecessary), I don't worry about spam comments.

    I too have been optimizing websites since the 90's, but haven't so far seen the need for nofollow on links. That said, I guess it's a matter of what types of links we're talking about.

    Again, good to meet you.

  11. » WordPress Nofollow Remover Plugin » developedtraffic.com says:

    […] UPDATE: The above does not work in WordPress 2.0.x; for those versions, there's a plugin. by Diane Vigil […]

  12. Chris says:

    Nice Plugin. I installed this with no problems on my Blog. Hopefully the word gets out more on how bad NoFollow is for encouraging link backs. It would be nice if more sites removed it as well…

  13. Diane Vigil says:

    I agree, Chris. Kudos to Dean Edwards for writing it.

  14. Financial Aid Podcast Daily Free MP3 Internet Radio » I don’t follow nofollow says:

    […] Want to do this on your blog? Here's a link to the site where I found directions. […]

  15. John says:

    Woops that messed up. I'll try again. Sorry for the double post.

    With your advice, I just took the plunge also and went nofollow. I have a blogger blog, but there are easy instructions on google for how to do it.

    Incidentally, I found your site because you went nofollow. I was using the Followtopia nofollow filtering search engine that I made.

    It was funny that my blog was actually nofollow for awhile when I made a do follow search engine, but I have remedied that now.

    I didn\'t see any post on how it has turned out. Did you end up with much more traffic as a result of removing nofollow? Did you get lots of spam?

  16. Diane Vigil says:

    I always got lots of spam, but I always moderated comments anyway. Now, with the SimpleCAPTCHA plugin, I see almost no spam at all.

    So … if I could ask, why did you make a nofollow filtering search engine?

  17. John says:

    I have another blog called Goulet Karaoke, that I thought would be a funny website, but I really wasn't getting any traffic, so I started to look into how to get it ranked in google. That led me to trying to get some links on other pages to improve it's page rank. Of course if a page has the nofollow tag then the link from a post really doesn't count for google. I tried searching on google for relevant content, but I always would have to open the source code to know if it had nofollow or not. I thought a search engine that already had no follow filtering would be helpful. So I made one. (Wasn't too great at php before I started working on it).

    Anyway, I hope that people will use it to find articles relevant to their content and post on each other's sites, while increasing users' google rankings.

    I hope it won't cause more spam. My theory is it will not, as users will actually have to search for content before posting anywhere. We'll see how it works out.

    Oh, and the goulet karaoke website still hasn't got much traffic.

  18. Diane Vigil says:

    Okay. I think you may find that links in blog comments don't give the kind of link juice that is often thought.

  19. John says:

    You may be right.

  20. Diane Vigil says:

    It's important to look at a site's overall link "profile" — if all the links come from blog comments and/or forum posts, then that's not so good.

  21. John says:

    That makes sense. Hopefully when telling someone about your website they digg it or stumble it or whatever, but you gotta tell someone about your site to get people going to it and linking to it right?

  22. Diane Vigil says:

    Well, that, and you can also write articles that people find valuable, and they may link to them on their own.

    There are also directories that you can submit to. Many nowadays are pay-per-submission, so you've got to have something worth listing (well, that was always true for the better directories, but when you have to pay, there's no sense in wasting money). Directories like DMOZ.org, Yahoo, BestOfTheWeb, etc. DMOZ of course is free, but not so easy or fast to get into.

  23. John says:

    Yea, I also made a squidoo page or two to promote also. And I have tried hubpages, but I don't like them as much so far. Those definitely seem to result in very fast indexing compared to other things. It is just one tool, not the end all be all. Maybe no one will find it helpful.

  24. Diane Vigil says:

    And, of course, unless you have something *worth* promoting, then promoting it is wasted effort.

  25. John says:

    I absolutely agree with that. I was probably the only one who thought goulet karaoke was funny ;-)

  26. Diane Vigil says:

    Okay. I'm not saying that it was or was not funny; I'm just saying that if you want people to link to your stuff, you have to provide stuff they'd want to link to.

  27. John says:

    No doubt. Good conversation. ;-)

  28. Diane Vigil says:

    Ditto. :)

  29. Jeb Heaney says:

    I have a WP site and the links are not picked up by google or yahoo ?

    The site is in 3.1.2 but I can't tell whether it is forcing no-follow or not?

    Here is the site <snip>

    I don't understand why my outlinks from this site are not being followed ?

  30. Diane Vigil says:

    The nofollow thing was for links in comments, not in the body of posts.

    I'm kind of curious … what makes you think the links are not being followed, or picked up by Google or Yahoo?

    I'd suggest looking into what nofollow does on WordPress blogs, and how it's treated by search engines. (It doesn't really mean that they don't follow the link; they just don't treat it as a regular link.)

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