Senseless obedience to authority, SEO edition

I continue to contend that nofollow is the very weakest part of the Google ecosystem - as aptly demonstrated by the endless shenanigans associated with the existence of this prescriptive attribute.

I get why it exists, and I don't have a better alternative (then again I don't run a search engine), but I do know that it's incredibly problematic to add any layer of friction to the mechanism on which the entire world wide web and it's resounding success is based:  the hyperlink.

Anyway, to the point of my headline and to somewhat echo Ann's well-made point - WTF?  If a link is useful to a reader, then by extension it should be useful to a search engine ("Focus on the user and all else will follow" - Google), and one shouldn't artificially manipulate that link code so its useful only to a reader.  The closest one can to a reasonable and workable exception is a paid link (though even now, with the growth of "native advertising", this is becoming problematic - are all the links in an paid post by extension paid links)?

Only writers and publishers can make the determination of whether a link is useful or not, and - as an extension to Ann's point - if not, why is it included in the first place?

But it's okay if you're a "journalist"?  So we're now supposed to be making follow-or-nofollow decisions based on occupational title!  This would be a ridiculous suggestion if it didn't come out of the mouth of a Google employee.  Google employee?!  Must obey!  Must obey!

Senseless obedience to authority, SEO edition

I continue to contend that nofollow is the very weakest part of the Google ecosystem - as aptly demonstrated by the endless shenanigans associated with the existence of this prescriptive attribute.

I get why it exists, and I don't have a better alternative (then again I don't run a search engine), but I do know that it's incredibly problematic to add any layer of friction to the mechanism on which the entire world wide web and it's resounding success is based:  the hyperlink.

Anyway, to the point of my headline and to somewhat echo Ann's well-made point - WTF?  If a link is useful to a reader, then by extension it should be useful to a search engine ("Focus on the user and all else will follow" - Google), and one shouldn't artificially manipulate that link code so its useful only to a reader.  The closest one can to a reasonable and workable exception is a paid link (though even now, with the growth of "native advertising", this is becoming problematic - are all the links in an paid post by extension paid links)?

Only writers and publishers can make the determination of whether a link is useful or not, and - as an extension to Ann's point - if not, why is it included in the first place?

But it's okay if you're a "journalist"?  So we're now supposed to be making follow-or-nofollow decisions based on occupational title!  This would be a ridiculous suggestion if it didn't come out of the mouth of a Google employee.  Google employee?!  Must obey!  Must obey!

Nowhat?

In all seriousness, this also raises the question the majority of the web's content producers - including guest posters that know exactly nothing about SEO - niether know nor care about the existence of nofollow.  So even if "we" all got on board and dutifully followed Google's guidelines, what about those composing content in blissful ignorance?  That's why I think any system that relies on authors and publishers to marking up links is fraught with peril.

Nowhat?

In all seriousness, this also raises the question the majority of the web's content producers - including guest posters that know exactly nothing about SEO - niether know nor care about the existence of nofollow.  So even if "we" all got on board and dutifully followed Google's guidelines, what about those composing content in blissful ignorance?  That's why I think any system that relies on authors and publishers to marking up links is fraught with peril.

to-may-to, to-mat-to

I think the salient point is valid, regardless of how pages are measured.  In mobile, the top few results rule the roost.  And while this is the case for desktop devices too, people are demonstrably less willing to dig deeper (or to refine queries) on mobile devices.

 

While I think infinite scrolling might mediate this a bit, I think that appearing on the first screen of a mobile device will continue to be critical, regardless of whether access to subsequent screens is by swiping or tapping.

So what?

Yes, Google returns information directly in the search results from websites they've visited.

 

Typifying this as "stealing" is reasonable if there's an expectation from the web owners that Google will only direct users to their site, but not use the information they parse inline.  This is certainly a claim that Google's never made, and if this is the claim of the site owner then it's based a 20th-century understanding of search.

 

And apparently an expectation that Google exists to send traffic to the publishers of web pages.  They don't.  And it certainly serves my interests as a user if I don't need to navigate to a website to get an opinion on whether or not garlic is a vegetatble, or what time the Super Bowl starts, or what the height of the Eiffel Tower is, or when Father's Day 2015 falls.

 

As to all those websites that "freely supported" Google in what was seemingly the glory days of ten blue links it was a two way street, where Google sent traffic and garnered revenu to those magnificently supportive websites:  if Google is failed to live up their current expectations, they're free to make a single line modification to robots.txt that will immediately prevent such "theft."

 

If your point is that Google is acting hyocritically, take a look at their guidelines.  They don't advise against scraping, but against reusing content without adding value.  Organizing the knowledge from billions of parsed URLs in such a manner that information can be reliably returned for it on the basis of an infinity of natural-langage query is that added value.