Do nofollow links help?
Just in case you don’t know what nofollow is you can find more information here. To cut the story short its an attribute rel=”nofollow” that was introduced in attempt to tackle the spam. Links containing this attribute do not have any effect on page rank.
I was never really a big fan of nofollow since it was introduced. I mean… 3 years later and did it reduce any spam? Do you see a reduction in comment spam? Not really… Not only the whole concept failed in terms of spam reduction, we are now told to stick nofollow on any link that we don’t quite trust. In the worst case you will get done for selling links and Google will take your precious page rank away. Whats really ironic is that in most cases your SERPs will continue to improve even though you clearly received a slap from Google for being naughty and your ever so green bar would now show blank. Yet, it’s not like PR matter anyway but that’s a different topic.
A while back i was fiddling with Google webmaster tools when i noticed that Google would still display nofollow backlinks. (Webmaster tools display most backlinks Google is aware off unlike link: queerie) So Google is definitely aware of these backlinks. We know they will not effect PR (According to Google) but do they have any effect of SERPs? Just a few weeks ago i would have said yes, they do help you slightly, simply making an educated guess. However something popped up recently that i found quite interesting. There was a little spammer application developed designed to spam nothing but a certain script. Whats strange is that even though every single backlink you would get from that script is nofollow, spammers were still able to achieve high SERP rank thanks to thousands of nofollow links. I don’t know how long their position will last but you can clearly see the benefits in the short run. I guess nofollow backlinks are not that bad after all. So the next time you get an opportunity to get a quality nofollow backlink… don’t just walk past it thinking that link is useless.
PS: Here is a good firefox addon that saves me a bit of time and can highlight nofollow links on the page you are visiting.