A lot, an awful lot, has been said about The No Follow Issue but one thing I miss so far is Trust.
With what feels like sleight of hand, Google has done away with a huge chunk of Trust in the relation it is trying to build between itself and webmasters.
The relation that they are trying to build is one where they are perceived as at least meaning no harm. How they go out of their way to give regular folks, webmasters, small business owners, yes everybody, the information and tools and knowledge to achieve their very best in Google without crossing The Line.
And much of that is achieved by making everybody's life so much easier, so much simpler.Don't know how to set your canonical domain? No problem! Just log into Google Webmaster tools and "set your preferred domain". Can't figure out how to be relevant to a specific country? Log into Google Webmaster tools, tell Google which country you target and let them do all the work! Ain't life grand?! Never heard of Information Architecture or smart internal linking? Who needs to! With the Google invention of machine-readable site maps no site needs to be well structured ever again! Get every page on your site indexed! New -- now with improved priority setting! Avoid duplicate content using a smart site structure, some intelligent blocking or lightweight server-side scripting? Nay, why would you?! Didn't you know Google has the canonical tag, you silly! And while you're at it make your 404 pages more useful -- not with a WordPress or Drupal plug-in but with a Google widget. And host your conversations on Google Wave.
All this can be achieved through simple "set it and forget it options" or copy and paste code. New features and changes are clearly communicated and explained through official and unofficial Google blogs, Google groups as well as Google video's.
Life is beautiful, there's nothing to worry about and you can now go home and enjoy your shoes.
Foul!Except we can't go home and enjoy our shoes as Google has turned out to be an unreliable partner. In fact, many of us will have to start to do a lot of work to undo the reliance on Google promises versus best practices Web development supported by solid SEO.
The SEO community thought it had seen everything when just two days after implicitly supporting no follow for page rank sculpting a prominent Google employee invalidated what the video suggested about how the no follow tag works by pointing out that the tag in question no longer works that way at all.
But not long after, Google added insult to injury by stating they made this change as far back as one year ago.
More than a year ago, Google changed how the PageRank flows so that the five links without nofollow would flow one point of PageRank each.
-- Matt Cutts, Google
That's one year of total silence. 52 weeks of pretending nothing happened. 365 days of not saying anything -- on purpose.
This from the people who have "user experience" plastered all over their guidelines.
And why didn't they say anything? Because "we figured that site owners or people running tests would notice" -- oops, sorry...
Nobody in his right mind leaves communicating potentially business-critical information up to "we figured". That's just not smart. And I have a very hard time believing that the people at Google are not smart. That leaves; not trustworthy.
In the same post where I get explained how they pulled one over me the author starts an answer with "I wouldn’t recommend closing comments" -- oh sure, because your other recommendations have turned out to be such solid ones, right? I mean, you wouldn't say one thing one day and then two days later at an SEO conference something completely different, now would you?
You wouldn't provide information that something works one way while in fact it works in a completely different way -- at the very least for 365 freaking days in a row... Right?
On With The Basics
So it was a nice experiment.
You gave us the tools, we used them.
You were consistent, we started to rely on you.
We Figured You Would Notice...
Tin Foil Hat angles dismissed for this post but included for your perusal and, possibly, entertainment.
- Nofollow use has been marginal at best – with Google admitting to profiling SEO's, has nofollow been a helpful identifier?
- As we still see so much duplicate cr*p turning up, does the canonical tag even work or is this another dummy placeholder?
- With there being no way at all to spider the whole web, sitemaps or not, what is the real reason behind sitemaps?
- Two words: Google Analytics?