• http://www.yfmmedia.com/ nkehrley

    If I’m understanding this correctly – google has taken the ‘use it or lose it’ approach to PageRank as it applies to the use of the ‘Nofollow’ tag thus affecting how someone could flow PageRank throughout their own web site.

    The use of the ‘Nofollow’ tag began as a way to identify untrusted content or bad internet neighbors and stop any PageRank from flowing to them.

    I have always wondered if a link associated with a ‘Nofollow’ tag got a negative PageRank point somehow. Is that possible?

  • http://www.periscopix.co.uk spoonman

    Scott, there appears to be an image or two missing towards the end.

    Great article though. Would it still make sense to nofollow things like shopping carts, checkout pages and login links?

    I like how this gets SEO and usability working hand in hand. As Google say, sites should be designed for users not search engines. If a technique does both, like this, then that’s a bonus!

  • http://www.spiderwritingseo.co.uk/ billmarshall

    Interesting article. However as with most such discussions there seems to be an implicit assumption that all links are the same value and I wonder if that is really the case.

    Do links in the body of the document count more than purely navigational links?

    Do links in footers and similar boilerplate areas get largely ignored/downgraded?

    And what about html sitemaps – if there’s a link from the home page to a sitemap doesn’t that greatly affect the PageRank flow? (unless of course it’s in a footer links that may get ignored!)

    This all quickly gets mindblowingly complex because we just don’t know the answers and testing the various components is fiendishly difficult. Maybe I’ll do a blog post of my own on this as it’s something I’ve been concerned about for a long time. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://www.visualscript.co.uk Badams

    I’m afraid I don’t necessarily agree with the validity of PageRank sculpting any more, Scott. You left out one important fact: Google had already changed its approach to nofollow & link juice, long before (nearly a year) Matt Cutts dropped that bombshell.

    And guess what? Nobody noticed.

    Only after Matt revealed what Google had been doing, did the whole PageRank sculpting fuss begin.

    I recommend my clients to only nofollow ads & user generated content. Everything else can be left alone. The key to proper flow of link juice is a good site structure. PageRank sculpting is not a substitute.

  • http://www.searchkingdom.co.uk RobAndrews

    Nice article Scott.

    I pretty much disagreed with the ‘nofollow’ rule change when it happened. My stance has softened slightly, but I still think Google could have applied penalties to those who were abusing the system. Maybe this was too much of an ask and it was easier to just wipe the PageRank from these links. If you have the ‘nofollow’ highlighter (it turns ‘nofollows’ pink) plugin on Firefox then you will they are still many sites out there that are way (way!!!) too pink. PageRank sculting is logical to me and I would have preferred Google to lower the trust rank of abusers (like they do for most other things of this type). You sense the ‘nofollowing’ was stopping some of Google’s indexing work and their ability to ‘index the web more than anyone else’ was being affected (which they couldn’t let happen I guess).

    Anyhow, PageRank is still the king of ranking in my opinion, it is just that PageRank (or the orginal concept of PageRank) has advanced so much over the years that still calling it ‘PageRank’ is almost like referring to a previous structure.

    I agree that PageRank sculpting is still an OK thing to do, but with different rules (and maybe it should have a different name – ‘link architecture’, anyone?). Google does not mind you looking at your site architecture and making logical decisions about weight and prominance for people and search engines. You just can’t do it with ‘nofollow’ anymore and get any benefit. You will just lose that links weight completely.

    I guess the one thing to remember is that all links are not made equal and they will not pass on an equal amount of weight. Think of any reason and it will play a part in this statement, the only problems is we have to test/guess the weight Google applies to each reason.

  • http://searchengineland.com Scott Smigler

    @nkehrley – Yes, Google has taken the “use it or lose it” approach as it applies to PageRank and the Nofollow tag. And yes, i’m sure it would be possible for Google to give negative points to nofollowed links, but I doubt they would as lots of abuse would ensue. Also, if a human does not trust a link, they shouldn’t link to it to begin with. Blog comments are an exception since humans don’t always evaluate all of those links, and that is why nofollow was created in the first place, as if to allow the human to tell Google, “I’m not vouching for this link.”

    @spoonman – Thanks for noting the missing image. I’m not sure why that happened but it has been fixed. As far as applying nofollowing for shopping carts, etc, the only real benefit I can think of to doing that would be to keep Google’s spider spidering the more important links on your site (hence a spiderability benefit rather than a PageRank credit benefit). I have not tested this specifically so i’m curious to hear other’s thoughts. That all said, i’d still prioritize many other SEO activities above this.

    @billmarshall – You raise a good point, although I did try to address it briefly in the article when I talked about “prominence.” I do think that could be a topic in its own right and I look forward to reading your post.

    @RobAndrews – Yes, I completely agree that the original concept of PageRank has evolved a LOT, though I think many of its original principles are still in play. My belief is that Google will put a lot more focus into behavioral aspects (bounce rates, search/click habits) though, and i’m not sure how that fits within the umbrella of “PageRank.”

  • http://www.mediawhizsearch.com Marjory

    This is a great article. I’ve never thought PR sculpting with nofollow tags was a good idea and I have to wonder if it every worked that well – why would Google give us that kind of power?

    I think it’s important to note that creating a good logical (simple) site structure that’s easy for a user is just a good idea anyway. I once saw a site with over 600 sitewide links in main navigation. That’s just not useful for anyone.

    I also like the idea of creating a simple top navigation to important pages only with sub-navigation within sections. For users though, drop-down menus are awfully popular. We’ve been sanctioning Javascript drop-down menus for years. Is this an instance where it can help? (I know that Google can read them more often now but it’s still possible to hide it in the .js file).

  • http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Hi Everyone-

    Hot news flash: PageRank sculpting existed back in the mid- to late 90s. It wasn’t called PageRank sculpting then (because Google as we know it) did not yet exist. There were tactics that existed long before the NOFOLLOW attribute came into existence. So I find it interesting to hear this whole debate rage on for 14+ years.

    I know it sounds as if I’m beating the proverbial dead horse at times, but what I have to say bears repeating: you create site navigation schemes and other forms of relevant page interlinking, you don’t do it for search engines only. You do first, foremost, primarily, etc. etc. etc. for users. Accommodate search engines, of course, but users/searchers come first.

    Not search engines first, accommodate users. Users/searchers first, accommodate search engines.

    So, needless to say

  • http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Whoops, didn’t finish my sentence. Sorry about that.

    Needless to say, users coming first might not seem as if it is a big deal. But it is. Too many companies waste time and money on sculpting. Great for the SEOs’ income but not good for users and website owners.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tpvcomercial.es Tpvcomercial-es Vicente Sánche

    lately heard that pagerank does not work for google web posicionmaineto is it true?
    I have a website dedicated to the sale of pos and would like to be well informed