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I have a website which has a lot of user-sourced content that accounts for a significant portion of our organic search traffic.

In an effort to avoid spammers or link bait type scenarios, we made the decision to globally make all of the URLs inside these posts have the rel="nofollow" attribute. This seems to be what StackOverflow/StackExchange does and I generally assume that what they are doing is roughly the "right" thing to do SEO-wise.

After making this change, I have seen significant drops in organic search traffic, and I want to know if this could be the culprit.

Does anyone have any advice to offer? Seeing as we don't (yet) have a spam problem I would be fine with turning these back on. We could toggle it on/off for posts from approved authors and/or approved posts specifically.

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SE used to apply rel=nofollow for all links: meta.stackexchange.com/search?q=nofollow –  Pacerier May 14 at 10:23

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Matt Cutts recommends against it (and in on other posts/videos as well). Plus Stack Overflow is a very different beast then the average website. I wouldn't say that everything they do is appropriate for all sites. And since he also said linking to external sites can be a positive ranking factor, unless you have a very good reason to do it i would not do this on your site.

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Thanks for the prompt response. Hopefully changing this back can bring back some of our rankings... –  Leland Richardson May 5 '13 at 22:52
    
1+ damn night owls :) @LelandRichardson also check your backlinks. –  bybe May 5 '13 at 23:09

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