tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Removing 'nofollow' from links in WordPress

My Google Mini development blog runs on WordPress, which is a great piece of software, but it unfortunately puts 'nofollow' on the rel attribute on links to commenter's websites. This means Google won't take the link in to account when judging how popular the commenter's website is.

rel='nofollow' was supposed to be a way for Google to ignore spam comments left on blogs, which would set up lots (hundreds or thousands) of links to low quality sites and help make them rank well in Google. 'nofollow' means Google won't pass any PageRank through the link to that site. This is all very well, but lots of blogging software now comes with this added automatically to links by commenters, and I think that's wrong. I stop spam comments by using blocking software and moderating each comment - just using nofollow doesn't stop spam comments from being submitted to my blog, it just stops it being such a problem for Google. I think the people who leave good comments deserve the little boost they get from adding to the conversation on my site, I don't want to use 'nofollow'.

To take the 'nofollow' tag off the comments, I edited the 'comment-function.php' file in the 'wp-includes' directory of the site. On line 360 some code writes out the link with rel='external nofollow' - I don't mind about 'external', so I just deleted out " nofollow" and saved and uploaded the file. Now people who comment get a little benefit out of it, which is just the way I want it.
I've dithered over this issue a few times. Although spammers won't benefit from ordinary links if you manage comments carefully to eliminate abuse, using nofollow is a clear signal that there's no PageRank to be gained. I don't know whether spammers ever bother to check for it though; I suppose I should try removing it to see if anything happens...
I used to get a couple of spam messages a week posted when I had 'nofollow' on the links, which is why I had to look at other means to stop them. I think most blog spamming is automated, so they don't really care if nofollow is there or not - after all, someone might just click on the link anyway, which gets them something.
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