Matt MullenwegI love interviewing non SEO, but probably some of the most influential people about no-follow. Without very influential people the whole no follow movement would never work. So I shot a email to Matt Mullenweg, the head of WordPress which was the first time I had ever really seen the no-follow tag being used, some questions. Matt also came on my radio show last year for a full hour which you can listen to here if you want.

Shoemoney: I think I read someone that you were the inventor of the “rel” link attribute? If so what was the original vision for it?

MM: Not at all, it’s part of the HTML specification.[1]


Tantek Celik, Eric Meyer, and I used the rel attribute to to create XFN[2], which was one of the first standards aimed at enhancing valid HTML with additional semantics, which is now fairly common under the Microformats banner.


The vision was to imbue regular HTML with meaning using a set of keywords with a shared understanding and interpretation. There are now several of these elemental microformats.[3]


Shoemoney: Did you happen to patent or file for a patent on using relational link attributes ?

MM: No.

Shoemoney: Did you ever think the nofollow tag would become the standard now used by all the search engines?

MM: Sure, why not?

Shoemoney:Do you consider yourself a SEO? Do you think you have a good knowledge of SEO?

MM: I think it’s important to structure documents using web standards with proper headings, markup tags, and a logical order to the content to make it accessible to plain-text user agents like screen readers and search engine crawlers.

When SEO crosses with something that you would do for a good user experience anyway, like having relevant navigation between pages, then I’m all for it. When it strays from that I tend to avoid it because I don’t think it’ll be effective in the long term, meaning 1-5 years from now.

Shoemoney: In your opinion what do you think the nofollow should be used for?

MM:I’d defer to the specification:

Shoemoney: Do you have any current or future plans with Google that should be disclosed that could be influencing your views?

MM: Besides occasional jaunts on Larry and Sergey’s jet, my relationship with Google is pretty normal. is seen as competing directly with their Blogger product, Automattic has an Adsense account, we use Google Analytics, and I recently switched from Bloglines to Google Reader.

Shoemoney: Thanks Matt for all your hard work on WordPress and for taking the time out to answer these questions.

MM: No problem, please email anytime.

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

46 thoughts on “Matt Mullenweg on No Follow”
  1. from

    microformats are not

    * a new language
    * infinitely extensible and open-ended
    * an attempt to get everyone to change their behavior and rewrite their tools
    * a whole new approach that throws away what already works today
    * a panacea for all taxonomies, ontologies, and other such abstractions
    * defining the whole world, or even just boiling the ocean
    * controlled by any individual or organization

    if google has adopted this open format that wasn’t designed as an “attempt to get everyone to change their behavior and rewrite their tools”, why are they attempting to get everyone to change their behavior under the mask of “we’re just telling you how to do well in google”


  2. Quote of the Day:
    “Besides occasional jaunts on Larry and Sergey’s jet, my relationship with Google is pretty normal.” Matt Mullenweg

    Normal… Right.

  3. BTW Shoe, off-topic, but you haven’t had one of those Q&A articles for a while. I’m sure many of your readers have tons of questions they want answered, including myself 😀

  4. email interviews are like that =(

    listen to the podcast posted above… its pretty good

  5. speaking of Podcasts, are you planning to pickup the Shoemoney show again this year?

  6. Hey Shoe, when I loaded your webpage my McAffee virus scanner reported a Trojan attempt: “VirusScan Alert! JS/Exploit-BO Trojan Script execution blocked”. Is this just McAffee misbehaving?

  7. I hop on every few months as well; you guys don’t? haha, guess it comes to those who are special.

    /end sarcasm

  8. I would call mine more “regular” rather than occasional but hey, why split hairs 😀

  9. Seems like he sort of sidestepped the nofollow uses question. I guess I’ll have to listen to the interview now but I really hope to hear a more straightforward answer on that one.

  10. I have personally observed nofollow tags are not treated in the same way as G says, they are more valuable.

  11. I’ve always appreciated his podcasts, listening to them is always time well spent. When people who actually know what they’re doing are sharing their two cents and exchanging opinions, something good always comes out of it.

  12. There’s one case where I’ve found nofollow to be useful – on affiliate links. When spiders crawl my page, they see the nofollow on aff. links and don’t crawl them, which helps give me a better idea of my conversion rate without having the data skewered by bots.

  13. Come on Jeremy, why did you have to admit? You were doing a great job flying under the radar with your computer hijack attempts? 🙂

  14. occasional jaunts on Larry and Sergey’s jet
    Was he being serious? Maybe this is common in the silicon valley.

  15. Do you think that you accused him of taking kickbacks a couple weeks ago influenced his enthusiasm in this interview?
    You’ve done better interviews from airport washrooms.

  16. Like i mentioned above the podcast is a much better interview.

    TBH he responded on new years eve so I thought that was cool he took the time out to do that.

  17. I agree – I travel on famous people’s personal jets all the time. Perfectly normal isn’t it – I wish!

  18. Isn’t everyone missing the point here? The original intent was NOT to discredit paid linking in websites. Google is abusing the rel=nofollow and twisting people’s arms into using it or throwing them into the supplemental hell.

    Rel=”nofollow” shouldn’t be misused, it should be used when appropriate – when the content provider doesn’t wish any weight to be applied to the link they are providing.

  19. I think the nofollow links are worth something. I have several sites that are showing backlinks from sites that use nofollow links. These sites seem to get crawled fairly often because of this? they all rank fairly high? I see them as having some value

  20. Google uses Moffit field which is not even a regualr airport for their jet. Nothing normal about it. But it is pretty cool to get the invite.

  21. I am surprised anyone responded on New Years Eve. Nice job on this one.

  22. I thought they hold value in Yahoo especially, or Yahoo hasn’t gone around to updating in a while, or both.

  23. I have one site with about 3,000 back links and most of them being listed in Yahoo should be nofollow – i’m not complaining – but the site ranks very well and I think that is one of the reasons?

  24. What a nice guy!!

    All hail him, otherwise we’d have been using something stupid like Blogger.

  25. I wonder if the next release of WP will be DO-Follow on all external links. I reckon it should be.

  26. There seems to be enough control in WP to block spam comments such as the option to approve at least one comment from a poster before they are let loose and the anti-spam plugins to warrant a removal of the nofollow tag in future WP updates I think.

    The robots.txt file also offers a means to disclose no-follow links where you have a common string in your paid Ad urls.

    I am in favor of keeping the WP code clear of forced formatting and insertion of tags like this.

  27. well as they say there coin has two sides..i have heard people talking negative about nofollow..

  28. Yahoo just adopted the nofollow tag, but both yahoo and google still let some fall through the cracks. I get links credited in both engines that are rel=nofollow.

    Just keep doing what is right and you will never have seo problems

  29. Nofollow links are definitely not useless and I agree, as long as you do your job right as far as SEO is concerned and don’t go over-board, you most likely don’t have to worry about penalties.

  30. […] Matt Mullenweg on No Follow – ShoeMoney […]

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