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Eliminate NoFollow to Stimulate Conversation

Travel writers are you suffering from few — if any — comments on your travel blog? You’re not alone! I’ve noticed this growing trend while reading many of the travel blogs I (try to) regularly keep up on.

Anyone who has been blogging for a while is probably familiar with the “nofollow” tag and what it does, but here’s a quick primer for anyone who isn’t familiar with this term.

Roughly four years ago Google introduced a new HTML tag called “nofollow”, which was intended to discourage comment spam, a practice whereby some site owners would leave copious amounts of comments at various and sundry blogs across the internet to gain a large number of links to their website, in an attempt to improve their site’s rankings with search engines. If you’re a blog owner you’ve no doubt dealt with comment spam, and many blog owners highly praised the tag when it was first introduced.

But there is a downside — anyone who has been blogging for a while probably has also noticed that it’s getting harder to stimulate feedback and conversation from readers through the use of comments. With a limited amount of time in the day, and a need to get quality inbound links to their websites, many bloggers are focusing their efforts on websites that don’t utilize the NoFollow tag…..and who can blame them? Not me. Although finding such sites is getting to be quite a challenge, since many blogs today are powered by WordPress, and WordPress has been utilizing this NoFollow tag for all versions since 1.5.

Really truly savvy Blog owners know that to stimulate good conversation, allowing a followable link back to the commenter’s site is a good enticement, and they use a plugin that removes the NoFollow tag, such as NoFollow Free [1], or they modify the core WordPress code, which is what I did (and which I would only advocate if you’re extremely comfortable modifying code, and which needs to be repeated each time you upgrade your version of WordPress).

Yes, that’s right. Travel Writers Exchange does NOT use NoFollow. If you leave a comment on any of our blog posts, that link is fully followable by Google and other search engines, and counts as an inbound link to your site.

It is my personal opinion that if someone has something relevant – and of value – to contribute to the conversation at our site, they should be rewarded with a link. We control comment spam by using another free WordPress plugin, the wonderful Akismet [2], which is included with WordPress and only needs to be activated and configured, and I’ve seen absolutely NO increase in comment spam since I disabled NoFollow over 6 months ago. For anyone who is concerned about an “all or nothing” approach, a great option is the popular (and free) plugin De-link Comment Author [3], which allows you to unlink the comment from the comment author’s URL on a case-by-case basis.

My goal in writing this post is to encourage other blog owners — of all topics and genres — to follow our NoFollow lead. If you’re a WordPress user, install and activate one of the many plugins that remove the NoFollow tag [4]. I personally recommend NoFollow Free because it offers other nifty features, such as the option to remove NoFollow only after a commenter has left ‘x’ number of comments (you choose the number). If you let your commenters know that you appreciate them — and show that appreciate with a followable link — they’ll be more likely to return to your site and leave additional comments on future posts that you publish.

Let’s take back the right to stimulate and reward conversation on our sites.

~Trisha

What’s your opinion on the ubiquitous use of NoFollow? Do you choose to leave (or not leave) comments because of it?

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