On Wikipedia and any number of message boards and forums across the internet, it is common to find external links marked with a “nofollow” attribute like this one here:Marjory Meechan
The “nofollow” attribute for links was adopted a few years ago by major search engines to combat the use of spam links that were showing up in beleaguered forum pages all over the internet. In an attempt to build ranking for pages on their sites, spammers would insert link references to those pages using their chosen keywords as anchor text in the comments section of message boards, forums and blog posts. In many cases, the comments were completely irrelevant to the content of the discussion and were a big nuisance for these sites and the search engines.
To help discourage this practice, forum owners were encouraged to place the “no follow” attribute on their links and all the major search engines got together and announced that they would not credit these inbound links to sites for the purposes of calculating search engine results ranks. This turned out to be an excellent solution to the problem and is now the standard for blog comments and message board comments.
Two scientists from the Taiyuan University of Technology in China have created a new search engine technology aimed at reducing the ‘noise’ from search results. ‘Noise’ is an industry term used to denote listings relevant to a search query, but not the end-user’s intended target.
“The returned result’s often contain a wide array of possible intended meanings based on our few words. We might have searched for “scientific discovery cap”. The search engine doesn’t know us, what we were looking for or what we were hoping to find. Did we want scientific discoveries relating to ice caps, ball caps, electric capacitors or something else?” (Full Article: China Develops New Search Engine Technology with Information about You)
This new technology is similar to Google’s Personalized Search, however created ‘search agents’ crawl multiple search engines for both keywords and meta data. This information is configured algorithmically with your personal user profile to produce the results most relevant to your query.
The SEO world likes to pat itself on the back and look superior whenever anyone brings up the topic of web accessibility for the disabled. After all, web design that is optimal for a search engine has to be optimal for a screen reader, right? Well, the situation is not as clear cut as you might think.
One little point of conflict is how to treat skip links. Skip links are page internal links that skip directly to the main content of a site. Many sites have skip links including www.irs.gov and news.bbc.co.uk. They are part of the web accessibility initiative for implementing US Government section 508 requirements on making websites accessible to the disabled. In fact, all U.S. government sites are required to be accessible to the disabled and with our aging population, it just makes sense for the rest of us to get on board.