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.
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.
No matter how much technology and society may change, one basic principle of business will always hold:
Make it easy for your customers to find you.
1. Put up a sign.
2. Place an advertisement where your customers will see it.
3. List your business in a directory like, for example, the telephone book.
Of these three suggestions, the last one is probably the most important in that it reaches your customers at the moment when they are looking for you and customers who are looking for you are most likely to buy. But, what if this option isn’t available or worse, what if you come to depend on it and suddenly, it isn’t there?
This is what happened to a friend of mine in the mid-90s. She and her husband had a crystals shop and float center called Crystal Seas. Then, one year, the Yellow Pages forgot to list them in the phone book. It was a disaster. They ran around town putting up flyers, ran extra advertisements in places where their potential clients might be but, even with a loyal customer following, their business suffered badly.
Nowadays, the Yellow Pages are still important but showing up in search engine results pages (SERPs) has become increasingly critical and you can vanish from the SERPs at any time for any number of reasons. How can you protect yourself? Well, the solution is more visibility and inbound links are the answer, but not necessarily in the way you might think.