Removing Nofollow on blog links and meta – and invisible comments

A couple months ago I installed a plugin on the blog that meant search engines would index links in comments: by default WordPress uses ‘nofollow‘ on comments to stop spammers abusing them to boost search engine rankings, but that prevents genuine commenters getting credit for their contributions.

One problem: as one commenter pointed out, the blog as a whole was set to ‘noindex-nofollow’ “which equals a no trespasing sign for search engines for ALL of the site’s links. It’s Google suicide.”

I added that problem to my vast to-do list, and moved on.

But that moved to the top of my to-do list recently when the BBC made a similar mistake with their linking mechanisms.

So I scoured this blog’s code to delete the meta tag nofollow reference – to no avail.

I called for help from Twitter followers, and got two very useful suggestions: Andy Dickinson found a plugin to alter the meta tags; and Gavin Wray pointed out the much simpler option: in the blog admin go to Settings > Privacy > and select make visible to search engines.

Invisible comments

But now I have a new problem. As Malcolm Coles pointed out in the comments, the commenting system IntenseDebate uses javascript, which means “the comments are invisible to search engines in any case because they now rely on javascript to be seen … (try looking at those pages with javascript off to see what I mean).”

This is not only a problem for this blog, but for any organisation which uses javascript for its comments system – including The Guardian, as Coles recently pointed out.

As I wrote this post, Malcolm emailed to tell me about a post he’d written about commenting systems and javascript generally. IntenseDebate had responded to say they were “rolling out a non-javascript-friendly version which will be visible to Google although it’s still in beta.”

So there’s hope yet, but I don’t like the accessibility issue at all, so should I switch back to standard comments?

10 thoughts on “Removing Nofollow on blog links and meta – and invisible comments

  1. Indonesia Matters

    Well I just wouldn't use Intense Debate, but you might just like it… One other thing, if you look at the code of this page and look down at the feed links on the right side you'll see that each link has a "title" attribute with often HUNDREDS of words in it – it's just bizarre, I'd do something about that…

  2. TheWorstofPerth

    Perhaps why wordpress grouphosted ( hasn't implemented yet after automattic bought iID. WordPress .com doesn't allow any java, so they must have been sure a non java was on the way or have insisted on non java version. WP very proud of the google visibility of their blogs. Also, it is just so damn useful to have comment keywords come up in google.

  3. Anne Helmond

    This is the main reason why I don't use external commenting systems such as Intense Debate. Although I can see a lot of advantages for using such a system it doesn't weigh up to the fact that these systems are separating my blog content (post versus comments) while they in fact belong together and should be indexed as such.

  4. hubs

    I use the linklove plugin: Where a commenter has commented at least 10 times (configurable) the nofollow reference is removed. For all newer commenters, the nofollow remains.

  5. Jon

    Hope you don't mind me jumping in here, but I'm one of the devs for IntenseDebate. We've recently released a new version of the WP plugin that syncs the comments between ID and WP and then outputs the normal WP comment section in a noscript tag. This means all the comments are fully search engine indexable as well as allowing users with Javascript disabled to comment too (and have it all end up in IntenseDebate for consistency). For existing users you can just upgrade your plugin. This is available from the re-install menu on the blog tools page on For new users we're currently in invite-only mode, so you'll need an invite for now, but will be available to all as soon we drop the invite system again (or when you get an invite from us).

  6. nnick[GIPPGY fd

    КаждомуСварочные работы в Самаре. Делаем сварочные и монтажные работы по индивидуальным строительным проектам. Сварочные работы в Самаре! Наш сайт .


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