Now it’s all about nofollow links! With all the changes going on at Squidoo at the moment, not many people thought that they would make such another drastic change so soon after their last major shake up.
Whilst there was so much noise being made about lens warnings and how to get them fixed it was almost like the post announcing that ALL OUTBOUND LINKS on your lenses would become NoFollow links would go unnoticed by many – they have since made an update saying that all links to Squidoo.com would NOT carry the nofollow tag.
It might sound like a fantastic idea to do at first glance (for Squidoo) but just a little digging around shows that this might not be the case and it might do more harm than good to the site and I suspect that was the reason for the quick update for all internal links but I’ll get to that shortly.
Let’s get one thing straight before we move forward, I do not feel that Squidoo is dying or not worth bothering with anymore. Squidoo has faced challenges like this before and I’m sure that they will again it’s just that the changes being made are more obvious and directly impact the members.
What Are NoFollow Links?
When links are marked as ‘nofollow’ it’s simply letting Google know not to follow the link. You can read exactly what Google recommends for site owners regarding the use of the nofollow attribute here.
There generally are just two reasons to use it:
- You Don’t Trust The Site That You’re Linking To: Linking to sites that don’t have a good reputation has been a big one for site owners for quite a while. If you can’t trust the information you are linking to or you’re not sure about – this is used a lot for blog comments etc where you don’t personally know the sites that others can link to.
- Your Links Are Paid For: The days of paid links boosting a sites ranking are over and sites that clearly have paid links that don’t carry the nofollow attribute get penalised – it’s now become industry standard to let your readers know what is advertising on your site and which links are affiliate links etc.
What Is This NoFollow Update Designed To Do?
Stop spamming, stop people building low quality lenses just to get the link juice from an authority site and to stop either intentional or unintentional links to affiliate products/paid advertising that don’t use the nofollow tag.
This update is another house-keeping method with the intention of cleaning up the site. By making outbound links nofollow it’s generally felt that Lensmasters will select their outbound links more carefully which will in turn benefit the readers experience.
Were All Squidoo Links NoFollow Before The Updates?
No. Many of the links inside Squidoo were made nofollow quite a while ago with the exception of modules such as the Text Links Voting Plexo, Links Voting Plexo, Sticky Note, Big Arrow, Most Important Thing etc. So although it wasn’t every link, there were several ways to get links pointing at your sites/products etc.
Of course, this meant that those who wanted to spam the site had a way to do so and Lensmasters needed to make sure that their lenses were kept clean and tidy – most did this by ensuring that they had to manually approve additions etc.
What Are The Problems Of Having All Outbound Links As NoFollow?
As I previously mentioned, this blanket update on Squidoo might look like a great idea at first glance but all might not be as good as initially thought.
Clearly Squidoo felt a need to correct their ‘ALL outbound links’ would become nofollow because they made an update soon after stating that internal links (links to any part of the Squidoo.com site) would not become nofollow ones.
This was a good move as Squidoo was basically saying that it’s own site couldn’t be trusted and went directly against what the nofollow tag was meant to be used for.
What concerns me is that the Squidoo community felt that HQ had listened to their concerns and acted accordingly – making a decision as big as adding a blanket nofollow on all outbound links was surely made after some careful consideration by the major players inside Squidoo HQ. The pro’s and con’s would have been gone through with the pro’s outweighing the con’s and that would have needed people in the know – keeping the community happy would have been more of a PR exercise so hopefully it was more a case of just not making it clear in the original link update and then hearing the noise from armchair experts around the world, the second update came as clarification.
One of the biggest problems that Squidoo now faces is that its modeling this update from the success of other sites. This is where their problems could start.
Based on the successful implementations of other authoritative sites, like Wikipedia, Squidoo will now apply “nofollow” markup to all outbound links.
Sounds like a good idea then, if it worked for Wikipedia then it’ll be great for Squidoo – WRONG! Matt Cutts has spoken about nofollow and adding it to all outbound links and spoke about Wikipedia specifically. Here’s the video where that happens …..
Google doesn’t sound too hot on the idea then. Even though Squidoo mentioned at the end of their post about rewarding some lensmasters ….
Eventually we hope to start giving our best (and most trusted) lensmasters “follow” privileges on a case-by-case basis.
This clearly isn’t something that they are going to roll out next week. Whilst it’s clear that there have been a lot of Lensmasters turning up to abuse the site, there were a lot more of them who worked hard at building lenses that were high quality and worthy of those dofollow links – Squidoo runs the risk of losing them with this update.
Another risk is that people won’t link out to other sites nearly as much anymore, after all, what would the point be if they don’t get anything from it? Well unless they were linking out to the sites from the modules that were dofollow, nothing has changed.
What should be noted is that outbound links are just as important to SEO as inbound links – encouraging people not to link out to sites, or worring people that if they do they might get flagged, is just going to have a negative effect.
I have always found that my lens rank inside Squidoo would go up if people were clicking on my links – it basically meant that they were finding what they wanted and I was improving their experience.
By making such drastic updates all at the same time I think its going to be hard for them to monitor the impact of each update and its effectiveness. There is always the danger that ‘something’ could trigger further penalties and no one will know what actually caused it.
Will This Be A Problem For My Lenses?
At the moment I think this update is probably a way of letting Google know that Squidoo HQ is on the ball and doing what needs doing. They are taking the hard line and prepared to do what is needed in order to tick all the right boxes.
I think that there are going to be some up’s and down’s over the coming months as the dust settles. It could (and probably will) impact on your lens traffic/earnings in the short term as Google juggles the search results based on these updates but the long term is still looking good in general.
One thing that I do recommend is that you don’t have a complete knee jerk reaction and do anything rash should you get caught up in any of the changes. Squidoo has been made to clean house before and recovered just fine because they were happy to do so.
Squidoo is STILL a powerful tool but you just need to be aware that when you rely on someone else’s site to bring in traffic/earnings you a) have to play by their rules and b) understand that you have no real control over what that site does.