Category Archives: SEO

End of PageRank Sculpting with NoFollow Tag

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Back then when Matt Cutts described the use of PageRank sculpting on YouTube it became soon a very welcome method for SEO professionals to bring more important pages within a website to the top. Although it is a very advanced technique you will find tools on the Internet that will do the job with just a few clicks. Times have changed.

For those who don’t know PageRank sculpting:

PageRank sculpting is a technique of website internal cross linking where you use the NoFollow tag to point to less important pages whereas you remove this tag from links that point to pages you want to bring to the front.

Normal link: <a href=”http://www.google.com“>Google</a>
NoFollow link: <a href=”http://www.google.com” rel=”nofollow“>Google</a>

Google has a pretty good algorithm to distinguish between relevant on rather useless content. With PageRank sculpting you can adjust this a little bit. Say Google thinks that one of your pages is relevant to a visitor but you would like to improve the ranking of your sign up page (which has basically no content) instead, you could achieve it with PageRank sculpting.

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Every page on a website has a PageRank value from 0 to 10 (or maybe sandboxed). To make it easier to understand it let’s call it page energy. Whenever you link to another page (including internal links) parts of this page energy are passed on to the landing page. So the more backlinks a page has the more relevant it is to Google. It’s like in the real world, the more people someone knows the more important he is (more or less). On the other hand using NoFollow will not pass on this energy (including internal links). Normally you would use NoFollow to link to websites you don’t trust.

Outgoing links on a page share  the whole page energy  in equal parts. So the more outgoing links you have on a page the lesser energy they can pass on.

Knowing this, PageRank sculpting became soon a method to control the energy flow. But as I already mentioned, times have changed. Google didn’t introduce the NoFollow tag for that kind of abuse.

What has changed?

Let’s assume you have a page with 10 outgoing links. Each link would gain 10% of the power that goes to the linked page. Say 5 of these links have the NoFollow tag, this would mean that each link gains 20%.

Google has changed that algorithm: Now the link power is shared among all outgoing links regardless if you use NoFollow or not. So if you have 10 outgoing links and 8 of them are NoFollow, the remaining 2 will just have each 10% of the link power. Before that change it would be each 50%. The 8 NoFollow links will still not pass on any power.

I’m sure this is causing a lot of headache for many SEO professionals. Well, Google wants to keep our lives exciting ;-)

Top 10 Firefox plugins for web developers & designers

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Firefox is my favorite browser for creating and testing website design and functionality. On the one hand you have big share of visitors using Firefox (Wiki: Usage share of web browser)  and a rapidly growing user base. The reasons for the success of Firefox are speed, stability and a strong open source community behind it.

And then you have IMHO the most important part: an endless range of great plugins

Although there exist hundreds of absolutely great plugins I’d like to share with you today only these plugins that helped me best while working on web projects in the past:

1. Web Developer

web-developerA must-have plugin for any web developer. It will add a new toolbar to Firefox with a lot of great tools for displaying page information, request headers, CSS element information, disabling/enabling Javascript, Cookies, Images and CSS, validation and displaying Javascript generated content. I just named some of the features but there is a lot more inside this tool. So make sure to have it.


2. SearchStatus

seachstatusThis one is great helper for SEO work. It includes a better PageRank information (forget the original – problems with cached values), Alexa Rank and the essential NoFollow link highlighter.


3. HTML Validator

html-validatorI would say 20% of SEO work is On-Site optimization. This tool will help you in locating every validation problem of your HTML code. And I guess most of you will agree: Google loves valid content.


4. Javascript Debugger

javascript-debuggerWorking with Javascript can get very tricky, especially when you are loading dynamic content via Ajax requests. Just looking into the code won’t help you a lot. The Javascript Debugger allows you to set breakpoints in your script and inspect variables and objects.


5. Live Http Headers

live-http-headersAs the name already says this plugin will show you all Http headers while browsing a website. Sometimes a valuable source to understand the redirection mechanism of a website and how data is sent across.


6. Leet Key

leet-keyA very useful tool for quick transforming encoded data. Sometimes when I need to check if a Base64 encoded parameter was transferred correctly I can decode it with this plugin to plain text. Apart of the transforming for Base64, Bin, Hex, Morse and others, there is even a functionality for encrypted contents in AES and DES.


7. JS View

js-viewWhen you want to have a quick look on a JS or CSS file from some other website you need to view the page source and copy the file path. But it can be so much simpler. JS View provides you any given JS/CSS file of a website with the easiness of a mouse click.


8. Duplicate Tab

duplicate-tabSometimes you need the currently open page in a second tab. But if it’s javascript generated content you cannot just copy and paste the URL in another tab. But Duplicate Tab can.


9. Add N Edit Cookies

add-n-edit-cookiesThis tool allows you to manipulate and add cookies and can help you to test the security of your website.


10. Clear Cache

clear-cacheVery simple and useful. While you are changing elements on your website you want to make sure to see the changes and not a cached version. Things like that can end up in frustration.


As mentioned before, these plugins helped me a lot. I know there are a lot more useful plugins out there, so feel free to share your list with us.


Update 2009-06-10:

Firebug

firebugAnother essential tool for web developers that allows you live editing of CSS, HTML and JS on any website.