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Interesting. I and everyone else I've talked to in the industry have always assumed Google just takes it on faith.

Granted, I never worked in SEO directly.

I'm still not sure what the truth is. You raise a good point.

The only reason you'd take someone's word for something is when you can't derive it yourself, like if the tech isn't there yet.

Google introduced nofollow in 2005 to either let people help fill a gaping hole in Google's tech at the time or for the smart marketing move of making people fixate on their magic attribute. Both under the guise that spammers would care.[1]

It's been twelve years.

The SEO advice industry and Matt Cutts' blog these days are probably like when I try to ponder why my cat scoots its waterdish around the room before it drinks: attempting to find backsplanations for the idiosyncrasies of a neural network that nobody quite understands.

[1]: https://googleblog.blogspot.mx/2005/01/preventing-comment-sp...

Google certainly does take nofollow into account. Probably up to the point that spamming sites that add it to links is pointless.

That said, Google probably has some heuristic for considering them. It probably errs on the side of ignoring, but it would be stupid for Google to ignore all nofollow links. Even more so because spammers don't like them.

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