There is still a nofollow tag, at least on links to Scott’s most recent post (or most recent as of a few minutes ago)…. it seemed from comments at SJ that the nofollow tag was an issue in terms of something technical I do not understand.
I’m not a search engine guru, but let me take a shot at explaining.
Search engines such as Google try to estimate the value of a page based on how many other pages link to it. Say you write a blog post about Admiralty Law and Jet Skis, and it’s a really great blog post about Admiralty Law and Jet Skis, so lots of other bloggers post message saying “Hey, check out this cool post about Admiralty Law and Jet Skis” followed by a link to your post.
Google will notice all those links and remember them. Then, the next time someone does a Google search for Admiralty Law and Jet Skis, Google will remember your page that talks about Admiralty Law and Jet Skis, and it will remember that your page had a lot of links from other pages that talked about Admiralty Law and Jet Skis.
Google takes all those links as a “vote” for your page, so if you have more inbound links from other high-value pages, Google assumes your page is high-value as well. If Google’s link following algorithm decides your page is high-value, it will put your Admiralty Law and Jet Skis page near the top of the result list for any search involving “Admiralty Law and Jet Skis.”
Google’s estimate of your page’s value is crudely summarized by your Google PageRank, although Google supposedly uses more complicated measures internally. (Google doesn’t reveal the details of its search algorithms.)
There’s a sort of flow to all this. Your site’s value is determined by inbound links from other sites, and your outbound links help the value of pages you link to. For the kinds of people who worry about their position in Google search results, this is the most important thing in the world.
For various reasons, Google and other search engines allow you to mark a link as “nofollow”, which provides a way for you to tell the search engines that an outbound link on your page is not a vote for the linked page.
For example, comment spammers like to post links to their pages in your blog comments in the hope that Google will find the link and vote up their page rank. You can discourage this by marking all such links “nofollow”. Major blogging engines like Blogger do this for you.
It’s also what USLaw.com is doing to all the people whose blogs it lists in its directory. They (he?) use “nofollow” on the link, which tells Google not to count the link.
Why would they do that? I’m guessing it’s because they want their content to rank as high as possible in search results (so people will visit their site and click on their ads), so they don’t want to vote up other pages that have the same content.
The end result is that being listed in USLaw.com—or having your content republished on their web site—does nothing to help your rank at Google. USLaw.com is taking from blawgers, but giving nothing back.
And before you ask, yes, every link to USLaw.com on my site is marked “nofollow”.