October 28, 2007

Remove "nofollow" tags from your template to spread some link love

If you take a look at the source code for your blog, you'll probably see several references of the rel='nofollow' tag. This tag was originally created to prevent search engines from indexing links in order to reduce spam. However, this simply doesn't seem to work, even as a deterrent to would be spammers. Spam still exists, and if anything the problem of spam is worse than ever.

But the most annoying thing about the "nofollow" tag is this: it prevents legitimate, and helpful links from being indexed by three of the top search engines: Google, Yahoo and MSN. Rather than deter spammers, it's more of a deterrent to commenter's and those who would otherwise link back to your blog.

There is something we can do about this: remove the "nofollow" tags!

Why I have removed "nofollow" from my blog

After much consideration, I have now removed all instances of rel="nofollow" from my blog template. This means that your backlinks, and links in your comments will now be indexed by the three major search engines when they spider this blog.

I believe that it's only fair to reward those who provide useful and informative comments with a proper link back to their blog, and the same goes for those who link to my posts too! As Loren Baker rightly says:

Linking to someone with a NoFollow attribute is a sign of not trusting them. It’s like reaching to shake someone’s hand, but stopping to put on a pair of latex gloves.

At present, I'm not concerned that my DO-follow approach will make Blogger Buster a target for comment-spam: “Everyone who passes a human inspection should get the link love.” And if a comment appears to be spam? I always can always use the "delete" button to remove it! You can read my comments policy here.

How you can remove "nofollow" tags from your own Blogger template

This method works only for Blogger "layouts" blogs. At present, there is no way of removing "nofollow" from classic templates which are hosted by Blog*Spot (though if you are publishing by FTP, you may want to take a look at this very technical post).

As always, you should make a full backup of your template before making any modifications. To do this, go to Template>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard, and click on the "Download full template" link near the top of the page.

Next, open up your template in Edit HTML mode, and ensure you have checked the "expand widget templates" box. The code you need to find in your template is contained within the blog posts widget, and unless you tick this box you will be unable to find any instances of "nofollow" in your template!

Finally search for all instances of rel='nofollow' in your template. The easiest way to search for these is to use the search function in your browser (CTRL or CMD + F). In total there should be three instances of this tag, the first is in the backlinks section, which will look like this:
<a expr:href='data:backlink.url' rel='nofollow'><data:backlink.title/></a>
If you would like to remove the "nofollow" attribute for backlinks (links to your blog) you should remove the phrase highlighted in red.

The second and third instances of "nofollow" are located in the comments section, and should both look like the example below:

<a expr:href='data:comment.authorUrl' rel='nofollow'><data:comment.author/></a>
Again, you should remove only the phrase highlighted in red to remove this "nofollow" attribute from comment links in your blog.

Once you have removed the "nofollow" tags to your preferences (backlinks, comments or both), you can save your template and let your blog readers know about the changes you have made.

Let readers know about your Do-follow policy

Most "do-follow" bloggers feature a logo or comment policy in their sidebar to let readers know that their links will be followed. Randa Clay (one of the "poster children" for the Do-follow movement) created a set of badges you can add to your sidebar. Alternatively, she has provided CSS code which you can use to create a badge without the need for externally hosted images, as you can see here:


Here is the code used for this CSS styled badge:

<div style="background-color: #FFFFFF; width: 123px; height: 52px;">
<div style="background-color: #FF9900; float: right; width: 118px; height: 20px; color: #000000; font: bold 15px arial; padding-top: 3px; margin: 2px 2px 0px 2px; text-align: center;">U COMMENT</div>
<div style="background-color: #000000; float: right; width: 118px; height: 20px; color: #FFFFFF; font: bold 15px arial; padding-top: 3px; margin: 2px; text-align: center;">I FOLLOW</div></div>

Things you should know about using "Do-Follow" in your Blogger blog

If you are considering joining the "Do-Follow" movement to allow comment links and backlinks to be indexed by search engines, there are a few things you should be aware of:

  • If your blog is "private", the rel=nofollow tags will still be generated, in order to ensure your blog is kept private!
  • We have no control over Blogger's comments pages, which will still include the rel="nofollow" tags, even if you remove these from your template entirely. However, comments which feature on your post pages will not have this tag in place, which is the most important thing!
  • When you post a comment while logged in to your Blogger/Google account, you will generate a link to your author profile, rather than your actual blog URL. Instead, you may prefer to choose "Other" for your comment identity, which will allow you to post your name and blog URL instead of a mere link back to your profile page.

    Only blogs which allow "anyone" to comment will have this feature enabled in the "post a comment" section. So you may wish to consider changing the comment settings for your blog if you do decide to adopt a Do-Follow policy.
  • Blogs which use Haloscan to display comments cannot remove the "nofollow" tags from their comments.
  • As far as I am aware, the "nofollow" tags cannot be removed from Classic Blogger templates, as the tag is generated by Blogger within the <$CommentAuthorName$> link, and is not available for removal by the blog's author.

    However, if you publish via FTP and have some technical knowledge, you may want to check out Ronnie Dodger's informative post.

Of course, the removal of the "nofollow" tag is not suitable for every blog, so you should think carefully before using the Do-Follow approach!

Please feel free to leave your comments and opinions below, especially as you now know that your comments will be followed!

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