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June 16, 2009


Making Your World Flat Again: Much Ado About No Follow

by Anthony Verre

PageRank Sculpting Dead? (Not Exactly)

With all the chatter over the last week and half over “rel=nofollow” and Matt Cutts’ statement about the link attribute, I think it’s time to weigh in on it. There are a few great post that should be considered required reading before reading this post:

Is “nofollow” Worth Using Anymore?

After listening and reading hours of material from everyone and anyone, my consensus is no.  Additionally, I’ve also started to notice that “nofollow” has stopped it LinkJuice drafting ways on numerous sites I work on. Not to mention Matt sounds quite serious about the levying penalties for sites employing nofollow to sculpt and/or restrict content as a means to “manipulate” PageRank. And, remember, you are an “enemy” to engines.

What Matt Cutts Has To Say About Nofollow

Q: Does this mean “PageRank sculpting” (trying to change how PageRank flows within your site using e.g. nofollow) is a bad idea?
A: I wouldn’t recommend it, because it isn’t the most effective way to utilize your PageRank. In general, I would let PageRank flow freely within your site. The notion of “PageRank sculpting” has always been a second- or third-order recommendation for us. I would recommend the first-order things to pay attention to are 1) making great content that will attract links in the first place, and 2) choosing a site architecture that makes your site usable/crawlable for humans and search engines alike.

There may be a minuscule number of pages (such as links to a shopping cart or to a login page) that I might add nofollow on, just because those pages are different for every user and they aren’t that helpful to show up in search engines. But in general, I wouldn’t recommend PageRank sculpting.

Additionally, there’s this nifty NEW tag that Google created a while back called the “rel=canonical”, which should help the majority of sites out there with duplicate content issues.

How To Sculpt Without Nofollow:

Rand posted some good methods for sculpting, which work, but it feels unnecessarily sneaky to me.  A better way is to allow, as Matt Cutts suggests, to allow your PageRank to flow freely.  Interconnectivity (internal site link structure) is a key element here. You want your site to have a “flat architecture”, and even though it may not be.  It’s really a play off the Bruce Clay method of siloing, but ensuring that major sections of the site become visible through an internal linking structure. This allows those pages to, if the practice holds, to share and share-alike the PageRank while only giving minimal amounts to other site areas.

And, yes, removing the nofollows will be a pain in the ass, but it’s one that worth it. And, yes, I really don’t like that Google went back on their word with this attribute. But to put it in perspective: “It’s Google’s World. I just live in it.” And, that’s the fact. I’m an enemy combatant.

  1. Jun 20 2009

    Super nice post 🙂 keep them coming. Thumbs up….

  2. Aug 4 2009

    Keep the good posts comming:)

  3. Really nice post. I get your point:)

  4. Aug 12 2009

    Nice articel… please keep them comming.

  5. Aug 12 2009

    A lot of good argument:) nice work..

  6. very nice wordpress blog, i just love the design. some of the artikel i really outstanding..

  7. Jun 22 2010

    I’m not sure that no-follow isn’t worth pursuing. Everything (almost) is better than nothing.

    • Jun 22 2010

      Of course it’s better than nothing, but if you’re using no-follow to control the flow of PageRank through your site, there are certainly more worthwhile and better ways to do this.

      1) Perhaps the most overlooked and neglected aspect is your website architecture. Is it as streamlined as it could be? Are your most important pages a click or two away?

      2) Think about your internal linking. I would certainly work in, where possible without giving the appearance of being overly-deliberate, targeted anchor text to your most important pages through body content

      3) If all that’s squared away, and you’re still not getting good results in the SERPs, instead of using nofollow (signifying it’s an paid, or untrustworthy source), instead apply page-level or site-level robots.txt.

  8. Aug 30 2010

    Thanks for the post. I enjoyed the read.

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