Sculpting PR, Siloing, Controlling PageRank Via NoFollow Sparks Debate

Mar 7, 2008 • 7:52 am | comments (3) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

I honestly wanted to avoid this topic, but due to the amount of attention on this topic right now, it is our duty to let the non-forum activists know about the controversy.

Shari Thurow authored an article on Search Engine Land named You'd Be Wise To "NoFollow" This Dubious SEO Advice. In short, Shari said worry more about your site architecture then using the nofollow attribute to funnel your PageRank, sculpt your PageRank, or silo your site for search engines. Shari is of the opinion that a quality site does not have to worry about it, while others, including Stephan Spencer's Search Engine Land article named Sculpting Your PageRank For Maximum SEO Impact says it works.

Honestly, there is no doubt in my mind that using the nofollow attribute or even JavaScript or a robots.txt file to manage your PageRank and link popularity flow works. It is nothing new and has been done for ages, just not with the nofollow, since the nofollow is relatively new. Do I do it? No. Why? Cause I focus more on other things, which I think is Shari's point. Would I benefit from doing it? Probably.

Michael Gray's Why There’s Nothing Wrong With Sculpting Your Pagerank takes issue with picking on those who do sculpt PageRank. He says there is nothing wrong with it at a macro level. It all depends in my opinion.

At SMX West a buddy showed me his site and asked me what more he can do. This site was absolutely optimized to the T. Pages that didn't have much content were nofollowed via the link and noindexed on the page level. The detail he put into his site was truly amazing. It all depends on priorities and resources. I say, if you got the time, why not sculpt. Google is not handing out penalties to those who use the nofollow and in the Linking Q&A panel, Matt Cutts was asked:

Q: PageRank sculpting/siloing: should we do that? Matt: In general, worry more about the high quality of your site. After you've taken care of it, then think about sculpting. Put your best pages on top - your best selling products should be linked from your homepage. The nofollow and metatags essentially do the same kind of thing. Google is against abusive manipulation.

So why not, if you have exhausted everything else you could have done on your site.

In any event, the discussion is incredibly heated at Sphinn, so enjoy.

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03/07/2008 02:16 pm

IMO no-follows on internal links are a sure sign of an SEO "presence", not an advantage if the sites' linkage "intent" ever comes under question.


03/08/2008 05:10 pm

I think my concern is that SEOs will so heavily abuse nofollow that Google will ultimately devalue it, which makes a lot of sense. If link juice = relevancy, and suddenly any search-savvy webmasters are tagging all the external links with nofollow (just as one example), then it breaks the biggest building block in what makes for relevant Google results in the first place. That's why I worry that too much abuse, especially in regards to links pointing outside of the domain, will ultimately lead to Google just ignoring the tag.

Jaan Kanellis

03/20/2008 05:14 am

This should help explain everything:

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