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Aidan
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Hi Karen,

you’ve just given me an idea for an overdue blog update!

Put simply, many links now carry a noFollow attribute that tells Google to ignore them! They are really common on forums including this one and on blog comments sections.

The idea is to make discourage spammers looking for backlinks from filling up forums and blog comments with rubbish (as the backlinks are no longer worth anything).

Some forums like this one and blogs do allow normal follow links after you become a regular user/contributor.

Now if thats not confusing enough – NoFollow links are not completely useless! Yahoo for instance will follow those links but will not associate the anchor text from the linking site with the target.

There have been some experiments carried out to test Google on it and it appears that Google does not always pay attention to the noFollow attribute!

Remember noFollow links can still bring traffic and can still lead to real links from those who do find your site so I don’t think of them as completely useless!