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The Rel=NoFollow Attribute

Yes, indeed, there are times that you will want to create a link, but will not want the average search engine robot to follow the link. For example, you may wish to link to pages created for an exclusive clientele. Or it may be desirous to have a link to personal information that would be better not readily available in Google. Those who ascribe to search engine optimization strategies might also like to limit the number of outbound links that search engines attribute to any particular web page. This supposedly increases the value of the other links on the page. This might be most important for links within a website. The web author might like to devalue pages that are pro-forma, repetitious, or unimportant (such as a privacy policy page) and maximize the relevance of particular webpages.

Several years ago Google invented the "nofollow" attribute as a means of allowing webmasters to have better control over how search bots saw their websites. But it was also designed as a way to allow search engines to improve their results by degrading less relevant pages. Even so, it is common to see "nofollow" in the source code of a greater part of the sites that allow interaction with the visitor. Prime examples are Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers and most Blogs. The attribute, at least in theory, discourages people from promoting irrelevant websites by broadcasting their Url to every blog on the web.

In spite of the controversy surrounding this attribute, it is a useful tool for the web author. It can easily be put in place in the following manner:

<a href="http://www.indepthinfo.com" rel="nofollow">Destination Point</a>.

The "rel" is the actual attribute. "Nofollow" just signifies what to do with the "rel" which actually is meant to describe the relation ship from the present to a forward link1. There is also a "rev" attribute which is seldom seen. It indicates a "reverse" link. This is meant as a way to keep track of the flow of a document within a website, or even between websites.

Text links are all the rage on the web. But elegant site design might call for links around images. We will explore this aspect of linking on the next page: Anchor Tags and Images.

1. RelFAQ

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