Tag Archives: NoFollow

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 ;-)