PageRank Sculpting with nofollow, the final words

Matt just did a huge post with updates to Google’s SEO documentation, and mentioned a new page about nofollow. This page features one block of content that is the final word on whether using nofollow for PageRank sculpting is “allowed” or not:

Crawl prioritization: Search engine robots can’t sign in or register as a member on your forum, so there’s no reason to invite Googlebot to follow “register here” or “sign in” links. Using nofollow on these links enables Googlebot to crawl other pages you’d prefer to see in Google’s index. However, a solid information architecture — intuitive navigation, user- and search-engine-friendly URLs, and so on — is likely to be a far more productive use of resources than focusing on crawl prioritization via nofollowed links

Now I’ve always said the same about good site architecture etc. But Google basically tells us here that it’s ok to use nofollow for PageRank sculpting. Now I saw from the notes of the Bot Herding session at SMX Advanced yesterday that Adam Audette complained that PR sculpting was aimed way too much at Google. Well, Adam, I know you people don’t, but we live in a Google world here in western Europe, where Google has a 95% share of all searches.

So: use nofollow, use it wisely, it’s one of the authorized tools in our arsenal as SEO’s.

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15 Responses

  1. Jaan KanellisBy Jaan Kanellis on 4 June, 2008

    I am confused where does it say anything about PR Sculpting in that quote? Where does it say that using the nofollow on a page will help that document rank better? Where does it say that using the nofollow will help your website rank better?

    Just more insinuations when in fact the sole purpose of the nofollow is to make Googlebot life easier, not yours.

  2. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 4 June, 2008

    Jaan you’re trying to hard to prove a point that just isn’t there…

    In the “You & A” with Matt Cutts, he said this:

    “Page sculpting, do you need to bother with it?

    Matt says in most cases you do not, so long as your architecture is set up correctly. It is a better use of time to work to get good links than trying to control flow of internal PageRank. It does not create a red flag if you do.”

    In other words: play with it if you must, we won’t punish you for it. And trust me Jaan, play with it I do, and it WORKS.

  3. Jaan KanellisBy Jaan Kanellis on 4 June, 2008

    Sure Joost, I am not implying that in using the nofollow you will be flagged, demoted, banned or punished. Rather I am just stressing the easy to see point that the nofollow is more for Google, NOT you. Once this understood you can start to understand why you should or should not use it on your own website.

    Like I have said, it makes sense to nofollow those sign in pages, but beyond that it doesnt make sense to.

  4. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 4 June, 2008

    @Jaan: ow yes it does make sense, but it’s just not for the “medium” SEO’s. You have to know what you’re doing before using it.

  5. Sean Ed HardyBy Sean Ed Hardy on 4 June, 2008

    Yeah that’s right. But nofollow is just one half of the truth. In my opinion, it’s also important to have a great internal link structure to sculp the PageRank – especially if articles link to each other in a topical relevance.

  6. Markus WalterBy Markus Walter on 4 June, 2008

    Of course the usage of nofollow does make sense. As you said, use it wisely.

  7. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 4 June, 2008

    @Sean: absolutely! I’ve never said it was easy :)

    @Markus: exactly.

  8. AlexBy Alex on 4 June, 2008

    Can you recommend any good tools to assist with PR sculpting or page analysis? (anything that shows how much PR % goes for each link etc.?)

  9. Adam AudetteBy Adam Audette on 4 June, 2008

    I actually outlined a total of 8 arguments against using nofollow for internal sculpting, the fact that it’s too focused on Google is only a minor point. I don’t have any “final” answers, just adding another perspective to the debate. Always best to question these types of things in my opinion, a healthy sense of skepticism. Here’s my full argument:

  10. RobertBy Robert on 5 June, 2008

    Well… I’m not a fan of sculpting PR, mostly as so many things can go wrong. I’d rather bleed a little juice than exclude a whole load of good content pages. However in South Africa where Google has all but 100% of the market (most of the folk here don’t even know what is, and I’m not even going to start on AOL). Are we making our sites for Google… Yes, pretty much the same way as electrical manufacturers make sure all their appliances are 220V compliant.

  11. edwinBy edwin on 5 June, 2008

    A few weeks ago i did some PR sculpting on my domain,well performed this might increase your PR.
    You can easily tag “no follow” to pages with no unique content, f.i.:contact.pages signup:pages etc.
    How closer to the index page , the more significant the sculpting will be..

  12. Mary McKnightBy Mary McKnight on 1 July, 2008

    To boil sculpting down to only the nofollow tag is really not accurate. Real effective sculpting should use a combination of internal link structure changes, nofollow, siloing, redirects, robots.txt and possibly nofollow, noindex (but only very specific circumstances). I, personally would like to see Matt address aggressive sculpting head-on. What are his real thoughts on our ability to juice our own sites to the point where internal landing pages and individual post or product pages carry as much weight as our home pages. Once the volume of high PR pages significantly improves on our sites, will that be considered manipulation and spammy behavior?

  13. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 1 July, 2008

    @Mary: I’ve never said it was as easy as just slapping nofollow on a few links :) And might I say that PageRank sculpting are two entirely different things, maybe I have to do a post about the difference and where they meet…

  14. Rahul KumarBy Rahul Kumar on 8 April, 2009

    I might be a slight off topic here but Joost , dont you think in its present form the webmaster guideline for the definition of “cloaking” sort of gets quasi qualified in terms of using no follow.

    In its definition of cloaking , the unidirectional lineage has not been mentioned anywhere.

    As far as nofollow and pr sculpting is concerned i do think its good for us webmasters but only after some saturation in terms of our linking campaign.

    Have written an article on this very subject at Page Rank Sculpting and Google Policy. Let me know what you think of it.