WordPress Is Nofollow By Default

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I was tweaking my WordPress theme a bit today. Whenever I look at my blog and see something that I don’t like or think could look better I change the stylesheet for the custom theme that I made.

While I was working on that today I noticed the links from the commenters on my blog are now “nofollow”. If you don’t know what that is, the nofollow tag was invented by the search engines as a way to tell them not to follow or pass along any authority to that link. I believe their goal was to establish a way to keep popular sites from selling their links to “less worthy” sites. “Add this tag or we’ll punish your site if you profit by selling our page rank.”

In this case I think that the folks at WordPress are trying to combat comment spam. Their thinking may be that by not letting spammers get the “link juice” from their comments they will realize that it’s not helping and will stop. I think this is a bad idea because first, it won’t work and second, the site’s legitimate commenters won’t get any benefit either. I do already have comment spam protection and even though I’m not sure when the WP nofollow started, I haven’t seen the comment spam go down any.

When you ask visitors to comment, you are asking them to share their thoughts on your site. They are giving you valuable content, not just for your human visitors, but the search engines as well. One of the ways that I have preached about getting links to your site is go to other blogs and add relevant comments. What you get back in exchange for your content is a link to your site. A way to get visitors who click your link and also to get a “vote” for your site in the eyes of the search engines. With nofollow that vote is no longer there.

I want to give back something to my commenters so I have removed the nofollow from the links of my legitimate commenters and will continue to filter the spammers. Bad move WordPress! You should at least give us a way to turn this “feature” off.

If you would like to remove the nofollow attribute from the commenters on your WordPress blog it’s pretty easy. You need to find the comment-template.php file which is located in the wp-includes folder of your blog.

First make sure that you have a good backup of the comment-template.php (I know you have that already)

Open the comment-template.php file and look for
$return = “<a href=’$url’ rel=’external nofollow’ class=’url’>$author</a>”;
on line 148

Normally I don’t recommend modifying any WordPress PHP files, but this one is pretty straight forward. Just remove
rel=’external nofollow’
from that statement and make sure you use the WordPress editor or a text editor. Not Word or Wordpad as they will add their own code and may ruin the file. The only other problem that I see is that I (you) will have to do it again after any new WP updates.

Update 8-20-2009 – I had listed some WordPress plugins here that remove nofollow, but with the last WP update they no longer work, so I removed them. Let me know if you find one that still works.

1 Comment »

  1. Jim
    This is helpful info. It scares me to mess with the wordpress files, however your instructions seem straightforward. I thought links are coming thru so maybe that was on older posts. Need to check.

    Anyway – thanks for sharing your knowledge.
    Barb Girson

    Comment by Barb Girson — August 20, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

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