If you’ve been following along, you should know by now that leaving comments on other blogs can boost your traffic. Obviously, it can help directly by others seeing your comment and clicking on your link to arrive at your site. But what about an indirect benefit?
Susan made a comment yesterday on my link building article that reminded me of an SEO topic that I planned on covering but haven’t discussed until now. So when you leave a comment on another blog, are you getting link juice? Well, it depends on whether the blog has NoFollow or DoFollow for the comments area.
NoFollow and DoFollow intro
Let’s start with their origins. Spammers leave comments with lots of links on others’ blogs, just to get link juice back to their site. To them, it doesn’t matter that their post is irrelevant, way too long, not readable, etc. They simply want to stuff keywords and links just to get a little bump in search engine rankings. This makes some comments areas, especially for popular blogs, unreadable.
In 2005, Google’s spam team created an HTML attribute do deter comment spammers. That’s when the NoFollow tag (rel=”nofollow”) was born. Adding this to comments prevents search engine spiders from crawling the links so that there is no passive benefit from leaving comments.
There is actually no such thing as a DoFollow tag; not having the NoFollow code inherently becomes DoFollow.
Almost all blogs start with NoFollow comments
By default, both WordPress (WP 1.5 and up) and blogger/blogspot have NoFollow comments. So ever since you first created your blog, anyone who left comments never received any indirect benefit from you unless you actively did something to take the tag off.
Why would you want to remove the NoFollow tag that’s meant to protect you from spammers? Well, for one, you may want to encourage activity on your blog by offering link juice back to the people making comments. Secondly, there are wonderful plugins like Akismet that should keep your spam from actually being published anyway.
For the record, Free Blog Help dot Com has a DoFollow comments area so anyone leaving comments do get some of my juice. So far, none of my sites have been “abused” so until then, everyone gets a bit of love when they contribute.
Any page that has a PR greater than 0 will be giving link juice and it will be shared equally among all the links on each page. So if a page has PR2, all the juice is distributed to all the links on that particular page; a PR3 page would give a little bit more. By making comments DoFollow, you are allowing links from the comments area to get some of that juice.
Probably the easiest way for most of us to remove the NoFollow tag is to use a simple plugin. I personally use the DoFollow plugin by Semiologic for all of my sites. If you are using WordPress, you can alternatively just do a plugin search for DoFollow.
When NoFollow should still be used
Taking the NoFollow tag off may sound like a great idea but not in all cases. If you have advertisers paying you for links, they probably don’t want to share juice with all of your comments. Since comments don’t show up on home pages, you’re usually fine. But if you are writing a review article, you may consider making the advertiser’s links the only ones getting juice from that particular page.