Removing rel=nofollow and linking out to other websites is good for your SEO.
For a few years now I’ve been proud to be known as a dofollow blog. And so long as my visitors don’t abuse the trust I place in them by commenting with spammy names, I’m pretty happy to link out to anything except porn pills and poker.
In my posts I try to link as much as possible however to date, I’ve been reluctant to link using keyword rich anchors to pages on 3rd party websites for fear of being too generous. To this end you might have noticed a lot of my external links use the anchors ‘here’ or ‘take a look’.
Over the past month I tried an experiment and switched off my dofollow plugin for WordPress, making all links from the site nofollowed like most default installations of WordPress.
I haven’t changed much of anything else and left the changes to be indexed. To my astonishment, my site plummeted from 4th to 8th for my chosen keyword. Confident that the site had been fully re-indexed, I turned my dofollow plugin back on and reinstated dofollow links throughout my site.
The net result is that once again my website has risen through the search engines to a prominent place.
The up-shot of this research is that by using the default nofollowed state for all links on your blog and its comments you are in fact holding back your website and reducing its ability to rank.
I’s further like to highlight that most of my comments link to sites of unrelated topics so make of that what you will.