If you haven’t been hiding under a rock lately, you’ve probably heard that Wikipedia recently reinstated the NoFollow tags for all external links. The English version of the user edited encyclopedia had been the only version without the NoFollow tags (a method, according to Google, of preventing spam).
The move made headlines all across the online community and reaction ranged from support (Randfish at SEOmoz and CarstenCumbrowski at Search Engine Journal) to frustration from some of our SEO forum members (myself included).
But, no matter which side of the issue you come down on, you might be surprised to learn that in fact NOT ALL external links in Wikipedia have the NoFollow tag applied.
That’s right. Despite all of the reports to the contrary, a small number of “clean” outgoing links still exist on Wikipedia.
Here’s a screen shot of what you would see if you went to the wiki page about sabotage
No big deal right? Well, it is when you’re using the handy SEObook extension for FireFox that highlights any NoFollowed links on a given page. This would seem to suggest that in fact NOT all external Wikipedia links have the NoFollow tag applied to them. What gives?
This of course could simply be a fluke, however I found another example when I navigated to the Bond (finance) page.
At this point I shot over to the Global Warming page to make sure my Firefox plugin wasn’t screwed up somehow. Since this page (along with the new SEO contest) was reportedly the reason the NoFollow tags were applied, it only made sense that this page would indeed be full of NoFollow’ed links. Sure enough, those “link condoms” made my screen glow…
So, NoFollow tags certainly are appearing on MOST of the external links on Wikipedia pages. But it is far from ALL of them… In fact, in my quick search for more examples I found another example on the arbitrage page…
As I said, I only searched through 10-15 pages for different terms that came to mind quickly, but I found 5 examples of pages WITHOUT the NoFollow tag applied to external links. I guess “Most Wikipedia Links NoFollowed” isn’t quite as sexy a headline… but in this case, it appears to be an accurate one.
As always, please feel free to comment or join in our discussion of this topic in the forum.