Over at Threadwatch, there was a post about how Google is nofollowing links to some videos, but not to their partners' videos
. That's interesting and all, but the part I found even more interesting was where Matt Cutts came in to explain things and wrote:
QUOTE(Matt Cutts @ Google Engineer)
I had a half-hour meeting with a Google Video person last week (before this situation happened), just to see what they wanted to do with nofollow. It turns out that they understand the semantics very well, and the nofollow's on some of their internal links are deliberate power-user choices on their part. *For example, imagine if you had a site with articles in both printer-friendly and web-friendly format. If you wanted to sculpt where Googlebot was going to prevent Googlebot from crawling the printer-friendly pages, you might use nofollow on internal links then. So I went into the meeting wanting to indicate "Hey, a few people are curious about the nofollow's on internal links; is that what you intended?" and I walked out of the meeting very comfortable that the Video folks understood the nofollow semantics and were using it exactly how they wanted to.
Really? Nofollow on your links is supposed to stop Google from crawling the links? Well, that sure was news to me. So while everyone else was thanking Matt profusely for explaining why they were doing what they were doing, I was left scratching my head and said:
You would? Isn't that what other tags are for?
Matt, when did the nofollow attribute on links stop Google from crawling those links?
And he responded:
Jill, the meta-tag level nofollow works at a page level. You can do other ways to prevent Googlebot from crawling a specific link (e.g. link through a redirect blocked by robots.txt), but nofollow is one of the easiest ways to control crawling at a link granularity level.
So, has anyone tested whether Google actually does crawl those nofollow links? I know it was never intended to stop crawling and I was shocked he is now saying that's what it does. It was (I thought) created so that people could mark links that they didn't control, so that Google knew that they were not a "vote" for the site being linked to. There was no mention of Google not actually crawling the link.
So have thinks changed? Does Google really not crawl them? Did he just make that up to get out of a sticky situation?
And if they're not crawling them, when did that start? Anyone notice?