In the wake of Google's crack down on content farms, which hit EZineArticles hard, EZineArticles has announced that they'll be making all links from articles on the site "nofollow" links (meaning that the links will no longer give any Google SEO benefit to the sites they link to).

This includes links in the articles as well as in the "resource box", which introduces the author and links to their website.

Yesterday, Neil Shearing shared his thoughts on the subject:

I would hazard a guess that Google probably suggested using "nofollow" way back in time, only for EZA to say that editorial checking of articles would be enough to keep out low quality content. But now Google have laid down the law, and EZA is going to comply. Sorry, chaps, no linkjuice here anymore.

Having combed through articles sites, EZineArticles included, looking for articles to publish before, I can't say I'm convinced that editorial checking was enough. Most of the articles I've ever seen in article directories were utter garbage -- obviously dashed off in 5 or 10 minutes by someone who knew the subject only well enough to avoid glaring factual errors.

As long as there was an SEO payoff for submitting to article directories, there were bound to be legions of internet marketers writing or outsourcing the writing of such articles.

As long as the article directories were inundated with submissions of these articles, the directories had two choices: accept and publish garbage, or get passed over by the masses (who's going to submit to a directory that rejects their articles?) Article directories that make their money by posting AdSense and other ads on the articles they host had little incentive to do anything that would reduce the volume of submissions they receive.

So Google gave them an incentive. Take out the trash or lose your rankings. If they lose their rankings, they lose traffic, loose clicks on their ads, and lose their revenue stream.

Reader Comment:
Becky said:
I seriously think it's ridiculous and it will completely cut down on the amount of good articles that Ez. has on it. Ez. brings in good SEO and google should reward, NOT punish then for it.
(join the conversation below)

I don't know whether EZineArticles will be reevaluating articles that have already been approved. But by adding "nofollow" to all links, they're taking away the incentive to submit low quality articles.

Neil quoted what EZineArticles said about "nofollow" back in 2005:

We're strongly considering using this new attribute"¦not only for the EzineArticles BLOG, but for the BODY of the articles within our site.

We will not use this technology for the RESOURCE BOX (as that is considered payment to the author for sending us their content), but we are strongly considering adding the rel="nofollow" tag to ALL URLs within the BODY of any article.

Times change, eh? So much for "payment" for the authors.

(note: links to EZA have been nofollowed on principle)

I presume that last sentence means, "since EZineArticles is no longer paying authors for their content, I'm not going to send them any link juice."

I have a different point of view.

Yes, EZineArticles is making their money off of others' content, and yes, they should "pay" for that.

But how should they pay for it?

By hosting the articles!

If the point of submitting an article to EZineArticles is to make it available for eZine publishers to use in their eZines, then having the article hosted is payment. If it gets picked up and used, the author gets exposure and click-through traffic from their resource box.

On the flip side (and this is where I side with what we presume Google is saying), if the links are all no-followed, authors of articles that don't get picked up and republished (eg. junk articles) don't get paid.

So there's still incentive to post high-quality articles, but no longer incentive to post garbage. Perfect.

One final important point. While I believe that links from the article directories should be no-followed, once the article has been picked up and republished, the rel="nofollow" attribute should be removed. "nofollow" is a website's way of saying "I don't vouch for the site that link points to." If you're using an article, but you won't vouch for the sites it links to, what on earth are you using that article for?