For those of you who do not know what the "nofollow" tag does, here is a quote from Search Engine Watch:
"If Google sees nofollow as part of a link, it will:
- NOT follow through to that page.
- NOT count the link in calculating PageRank link popularity scores.
- NOT count the anchor text in determining what terms the page being linked to is relevant for."
What I did was go to the AskDaveTaylor.com blog and found an article to which I posted a comment. I chose this site due to its strong page rank and its level of trust in the search engines as seen by his many rankings - thanks Dave :-). The post that I left is under the name of "Mark Warranty Peterson," just a random name with a keyword in it and linked to the site "theautoclub.com". Now, since the comments are on this blog are treated with the rel="nofollow" tag, you would assume that none of the 3 rules of nofollow as outlined above would be disproven.
Ok, so here it is a few months later and the page that I left the post on has a PR5 and the SE algorithms have all had time to fully evaluate this page. So, I went in and did an exact search in Google, Yahoo and MSN for "Mark Warranty Peterson". Now, one would think that the only page that would show up in the results would be for the page in which the post was left. Well, the only search engine that lived up to this belief is the infamous Microsoft Live Search. Microsoft also did not include the page with the post in a backlink check to theautoclub.com
Yahoo's results showed the page of the post and one spammer page. A backlink check of the domain (theautoclub.com) in Yahoo did, however, include the page from the post that had the nofollow tag.
What did Google show? Hmm.....this is where I was VERY SURPRISED. The results show the page with the post on it, AND the page to which the nofollow link points! They did not show this page in a backlink check, but when does Google ever show many links there anyways. Now, the other interesting thing theautoclub.com is now ranked #74 for "Mark Warranty Peterson" (edit: now showing at #70 on page 7). Notice that this is a broad match for this term and not an exact match query and the site does not have the word Peterson anywhere in the whole site. I then decided to check the cache of the page after finding it at #74. What did Google have to say about the search query?
"These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: mark peterson"
Now, if I read correctly, according to a Google post, ''when Google sees the attribute (rel='nofollow') on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results." Well, this seems to be pretty good proof that this isn't true. I also have the server logs to show that Google has crawled through this link to the destination website in the link with the nofollow. That disproves that Google will "NOT follow through to that page."
Now, I am pretty sure that I am not the only person that has done this test and seen the results. This must explain why I haven't seen a decline in comment spam on my blogs as it looks like the "link condom" is broken...
So, can somebody help me out and explain exactly how Google REALLY treats the nofollow tag?