NoFollow To Cause Revolt: Wasted PageRank via Sculpting & JavaScript Links Require NoFollow

Jun 3, 2009 • 8:55 am | comments (3) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Last night at SMX Advanced Matt Cutts of Google reportedly dropped a bombshell on the SEO community when he said that using the nofollow to PageRank sculpt might not work like you (SEOs) thought. Danny Sullivan explained it well:

If you have $10 in authority to spend on those ten links, and you block 5 of them, the other 5 aren’t going to get $2 each. They’re still getting $1. It’s just that the other $5 you thought you were saving is now going to waste.

In Danny's simplistic example, if you have a PageRank of 10 (I know it doesn't work this way) and you link out to ten pages, each page would get PR1. Now, if you nofollow 5 of those links, then the 5 normal links should get PR2s each. This is not the case, instead they get PR1s and the other PR5 is wasted.

But what really annoys me is that Matt left this out of a video he published days before the conference. Matt in his videos, answered a question about PageRank sculpting. He completely left out these details in that video. Why? I am not sure, but watch the video:

Why leave it out there Matt? Was it reserved for SMX? If so, why not wait on that topic and publish the video with the full explanation later?

In any event, Danny goes on to explain that Google now crawls and indexes links within JavaScript’s “onClick” events. Using JavaScript for links you don't want Google to find, for example, text ads, was a great solution. Now, it Google indexes those links, and that means, you need to slap on the nofollow attribute on those links or possibly be penalized in the future.

As you can imagine, both the nofollow sculpting topic of wasted PageRank and the fact that JavaScript links may now need nofollows added to them, are pretty major. Stuff like this can cause a revolt in the SEO world.

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

Here is the live blog coverage of the news:

Previous story: June 2009 Google Webmaster Report



06/03/2009 02:12 pm

If this is true. they have been hiding this information intentionally for long time, which doesn't make happy to be fair. Matt always talked about "PageRank sculpting", and how to make to pagerank flow to those pages you wanted to get more PR. Anyway, and for what matters, maybe we should start thinking about the possibility of coding links as if they were not, by using JavaScript and other techniques. This really scares me, because it means that there are now many chances that, due to this comments from Matt (yes Matt, you will be guilty of that), people starts doing such things, like using a span with a special class and the modifying it via JavaScript. But yes, the above way will probably work to control de pagerank flow, now that it's more difficult than ever to get a good link...

No Name

07/16/2009 02:38 am

Can someone take a look at my site and tell me if I set it up the way he is talking? Should I only have the main pages connected to the homepage and then put the rest of them connected to those three?

Ian Harte

03/10/2011 02:18 pm

I think there is a good argument for no following certain pages, for example I have just been through a site and no followed pages such as print details, submit enquiry and mail to friend, I have also added robot.txt to stop google indexing my cart page, there is no need for it.

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