PageRank sculpting – Siloing and more

PR sculpting seems to be “all the rage” at the moment. Tracking the conversation back seems to get me to an article by Dan Thies of september 4th last year, pointing back to an interview with Matt on SEOmoz. It’s been a whole load of buzz lately, coming up at SES again a few times too much, and I think it’s about time we do a recap of what PageRank sculpting actually is, which principle it’s based on, and how you should use it.

In the interview that started the whole discussion again, Matt said:

The nofollow attribute is just a mechanism that gives webmasters the ability to modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity. Plenty of other mechanisms would also work (e.g. a link through a page that is robot.txt’ed out), but nofollow on individual links is simpler for some folks to use. There’s no stigma to using nofollow, even on your own internal links; for Google, nofollow’ed links are dropped out of our link graph; we don’t even use such links for discovery. By the way, the nofollow meta tag does that same thing, but at a page level.

This inspired Dan Thies to write his article, which is, in my opinion, both very good and also a bit flawed. Dan says: “That’s the key point. Getting more of your important pages indexed.” And I simply, do not agree, most of the other stuff is very true and valuable though. Let’s get back to the basic theory of how you should create a site structure and theme it correctly: siloing.

Siloing


photo credit: twob

One of the oldest articles I found on siloing is on Bruce Clay’s site, in an article from 2005.

The idea (and yes I’m oversimplifying a bit now) is that you only link to pages on your site with the same theme, to make it easier to rank for keywords and keyword groups. A quote:

Siloing resolves this problem by allowing you to achieve high search engine placement both for general and targeted keyword phrases through themed vertical page linking and/or construction.

This article talks about only linking to pages that you really should be linking to. Of course, this is still the best practice, and if you totally lived by that, you wouldn’t need to nofollow any links. However if you, for any reason whatsoever (like management that doesn’t get it, weird laws / lawyers, or conversion / up-selling reasons), have to link to another, unrelated, page, nofollow is the tool you could use to still abide by those siloing laws.

Nofollow != untrusted

In the beginning of this nofollow discussion, some people I really like and respect, like Greg Boser, Todd Friesen and Dave Naylor, were saying that you should really not use nofollow internally, using the argument: “why would you want to tell search engines that you don’t trust certain pages on your site?”

Well, it’s not about trust (anymore), as Greg admitted in an interview with Mike McDonald at SES recently, now that Matt has come out and said that. Others are still whining though, in part I think because either they don’t get it, or they don’t think other people will get it and want people to focus on different things that are more important, like site structure. In part, I agree. PageRank sculpting like that is not something for the faint of heart, or the SEO rookie. It IS however a valuable tool when you actually know what you’re doing and have a lot of juice to play around with.

So what is it about then?

As my buddy Michael Gray said: why would Apple want to rank for [contact us]? Doesn’t that single ranking imply a wasted opportunity to rank for a few more products they actually sell?

A quote from Matt at DaveN’s blog is very important here:

Nofollowing your internals (PageRank sculpting – JdV) can affect your ranking in Google, but it’s a 2nd order effect.

Anyway, at Onetomarket we’ve been doing this for at least 4 years. We used javascript links before nofollow was around, and we know that it works because we tested it. It’s not specifically about getting more pages indexed, it’s about getting those pages indexed that matter to you, and about, as Greg also pointed out in the video interview above, getting as much pages indexed as your overall PageRank can handle. You don’t want to “spread yourself too thin”.

PageRank sculpting is more then Nofollow

You really need to know that at some point, you’ll need more then nofollow. You’ll need page per page control of the robots meta tag, and you will probably be using it to noindex, follow category / tag / archive pages, in favor of single pages. That, combined with not giving too much linklove to these pages, is the essence of third level push.

It’s also very important to be honest with yourself: “Do I really need this page / this set of pages in the index right now?” It might be wiser to make sure you have a smaller amount of pages in the index, throwing the deeper pages out and allowing yourself to actually rank with the pages higher up in your site’s structure.

Those two uses of nofollow, together with the use in siloing of nofollowing links to unrelated pages, make it a very powerful tool. You can be a good SEO without using it, and a lot of times you can probably make more money by focussing on other things, but anyone saying that it’s bad advice or nonsense, doesn’t know what he or she is talking about, and should think twice before writing openly that people should not follow that advice.

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81 Responses

  1. SEO Design SolutionsBy SEO Design Solutions on 23 March, 2008

    Great Post Joost:

    I think that many are overly concerned with external links and if they spent more time on internal linking and sculpting if you will, they would find it requires far less external sources to acquire a high ranking for competitive terms.

    We have terms that rank based on in allinanchor relevance in the hundreds of thousands, just from a blog post. However, without tweaking the internal links one could not expect that type of link juice from just a post alone.

    I have yet to truly play around with no follow, I am more of the philosophy or leveraging older content by either re-writing it or 301 it to preserve the authority, but to each their own.

  2. PublicRecordsGuyBy PublicRecordsGuy on 23 March, 2008

    Again Joost, great post. Thanks for your informative posts. They aren’t like many others who give a little summary of rehashed information, you lay it out there and explain. Thanks.

  3. Mikkel deMib SvendsenBy Mikkel deMib Svendsen on 23 March, 2008

    I still don’t like using NOFOLLOW on internal links – I simply don’t trust how Google will use this over time.

    We’ve seen it before … Remember how Google told us NO ARCHIVE would work? Then 3 month later they erased all sites using it!

    I don’t think Google will erase sites using internal NOFOLLOW but I do think that it will hurt the trust of the site in the long run.

    Look at it from a logical point of view …
    If two sites have the same score for a search but one have a lot of internal NOFOLLOW and the other don’t which one should rank above the other? :)

    Even though Google is not doing that right now it would definately be logical to do it – just like there was some logic to erasing the NO ARCHIVE pages back then (even through Google said before they did it that they would never do so).

    The point is: Do not trust what Google tells you they will or will not do. They have every right to change their mind and they often do.

  4. Alain SadonBy Alain Sadon on 23 March, 2008

    Mikkel, I don’t see the logic in what you are saying. Why would Google value sites with nofollow’s lower? Using nofollow, you’re not saying that the pages are uninteressting for visitors, since you’re having a link. The only thing you’re saying is that you don’t want this page to contribute PR to (vote for) the other. The first page is not saying the other one is a bad page, it’s neutral to it.

    I think it’s good that Google discriminates between pages that just inform visitors about another page (nofollow) and pages that also give a vote for the other page (no nofollow).

    In daily life you have the same thing: when somebody asks me where the Concertgebouw is, here in Amsterdam, I’ll show that person where it is. But that doesn’t automatically mean I want to recommend the Concertgebouw (although I do…).

    Having said this, I want to state that the sitearchitecture must be set up in such a way that nofollows are minimalized. I understand that that’s where Joost’s silo’s come in.

  5. Mikkel deMib SvendsenBy Mikkel deMib Svendsen on 23 March, 2008

    The logic is very simple: Using internal NOFOLLOWs on one site and not on another will give two different site-profiles. The question is which one should outrank the other (all other being equal).

    Especially if NOFOLLOW turns out to be more and more used to game the engines – as was the case with the NO ARCHVE issue, they will react on it.

  6. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 23 March, 2008

    Hmm I can’t agree Mikkel… You could also argue that the site that uses nofollows is better maintained, if all other things are indeed equal… We’re in a different age from when noarchive was being (ab-)used, and you can’t use nofollow to hide the fact that you’re cloaking anyway :)

  7. Mikkel deMib SvendsenBy Mikkel deMib Svendsen on 23 March, 2008

    Joost, if you are using a code for something totally different than what was intended – which was the case when cloaked pages used the NO ARCHIVE tag as well as when NOFOLLOW is used to manipulate the way engines interpret internal link structures, then the risk of that tachtic back firering is very real indeed.

    NOFOLLOW have nothing to do with cloaking. I am not sure where you got that idea :)

    I have no problem with taking risks but not if I don’t have to and not on sites where I can’t afford such risks.

    Just don’t kid yourself into thinking there is no risk :)

  8. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 23 March, 2008

    I’m not, and I know one thing, the wider spread the use of nofollow becomes, the harder it will be to stop it :)

  9. Mikkel deMib SvendsenBy Mikkel deMib Svendsen on 23 March, 2008

    No, quite the oposite as the damage of any “NOFOLLOW penaly” will hurt so many more :)

  10. Dan ThiesBy Dan Thies on 23 March, 2008

    Thanks for the excellent review of the topic, Joost.

    I agree that you can do more than get more pages indexed (with all the benefits that implies), but I’m rarely in a position where that’s necessary, and it does require skill that isn’t present in the average SEO shop. :D

    Judging the reaction to my two posts on the subject last year, and the reaction here, a lot of folks are still nervous about the whole thing.

  11. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 23 March, 2008

    Hey Dan, thx for stopping by! It’s indeed still getting people nervous… Among these people at least one with more experience than me (hi Mikkel ;) ), but that just doesn’t change things…

  12. Mikkel deMib SvendsenBy Mikkel deMib Svendsen on 23 March, 2008

    Joost, if you’d been around longer your would know that it was exactly the same arguments flying around prior to the NO ARCHIVE issue – and similar other cases over time.

    You think too much like a webmaster and apparently have too little understanding of how the engines think. Maybe its because I used to manage a search engine that I know better how they think – maybe its just the many cases I’ve seen in the past :)

    In any case, from a pure risk perspective its not very smart to take risks you don’t have to when other, less risky and just as effective, strategies are available.

    It has nothing to do with being nervous – it hs to do with being realistic and reaching your goals the most effective way with the lowest possible risk profile (whatever the risk may be).

    I have had similar discussions to this a millions times in the past. Many people, like you, do not believe me so you stick with your ideas. Then “Florida” (or another “disarster” such as the NO ARCHIVE ban) comes around and you all wonder why this happend … NONE of my sites was hit by Florida and I removed NO ARCHIVE on all my cloaked sites way before the ban!

    The only “good” thing about it is that each time too many follow a “simple” strategy like your suggested use of NOFOLLOW and the engines suddenly hit on it I get a lot of extra very well paid emergency SEO work hehe :)

  13. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 23 March, 2008

    Hehe Mikkel, I still don’t agree, but I know you’ve got a good track record ;) I just truly think times have changed :)

  14. Mikkel deMib SvendsenBy Mikkel deMib Svendsen on 23 March, 2008

    > I just truly think times have changed :)

    Do you mean, the engines do not care about the users or the quality of the search results anymore? :)

    You are still not evaluating this from the right perspective. The logic I base this, as well as most of my previous pedictions on, remains the same. Nothing has changes on that.

  15. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 23 March, 2008

    Well I don’t see how people could abuse internal nofollow to such a level that they would reach rankings that much higher up that it could be called spam.

    I believe in the tool, but it’s not the magic potion that’s gonna bring you from #55 to #1. It’s the thing that might get you from #5 to #3, but that’s about it, although that’s worth a whole lot. In the end, you’re only deciding where to drink the juice others have been pouring into your bottle.

    Because of that “small” effect, I don’t think any search engine would ever find it enough of a problem to do something about it.

  16. Mikkel deMib SvendsenBy Mikkel deMib Svendsen on 23 March, 2008

    You are getting closer to my point. Thats good :)

    I use an equation for risk evaluation that takes the following things into account:

    - How great the benifit is from doing “this”

    - How likely it is to get penalized – and if so identified on your site

    - How hard the penality migh be

    With small modifications this equation actually works on most risk evaluation – also outside of SEO.

    If the benifit of doing “something” is very great, and the risk of getting cought is very low – and if you are cought the penalty very soft, then thats a good risk profile to me – in many cases.

    The lower the benifit is the lower the two last risk factors have to be to keep the same risk profile.

    As mentioned before I don’t think pages using a lot of internal NOFOLLOW for SEO will be banned from the engines but I would not be surprised for one second if it would, at some point, result in a 10-30 result decrease in rankings or something similar. Your pages won’t disspear – but they just won’t be found much :)

    The likelihood of this happening goes up the more webmasters starts to abuse it – and/or the more publicity it attracts. So the more you advertise it, Joost, the higher the risk :)

  17. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 23 March, 2008

    I agree with just about everything you wrote there Mikkel, except that at #2 “How likely it is to get penalized”, I answer: not, seeing as to how Google has reacted about it. That makes the whole calculation go to a 0 risk opportunity, the ones I like most :)

    That is in fact, the source of our disagreement here too, as you don’t trust Matt, and I do :)

  18. Joe WilliamsBy Joe Williams on 24 March, 2008
  19. JasonBy Jason on 24 March, 2008

    The world of Search Engine Optimization is changing. There are rumours that Google will switch from PageRank to VisitorRank and have a Digg-like rating system…

    Googlebots look closely at how your site is relating internally (website architecture, silos) and externally (links).

    With all the new Social Media sites and platforms there are endless ways to get visitors without being as concerned about the search engines.

    Your media can be appearing in the top of the search engines under different platforms like Youtube, Digg, Propeller, etc.

    I predict that if they aren’t doing it already, Google will be able to see and measure your site’s popularity across the whole web very soon.

  20. Bert van HeerdeBy Bert van Heerde on 24 March, 2008

    Hi Joost, nice article and discussion.

    Since Dan launched his article, I’ve been experimenting with nofollow. I was especially enthousiastic about the fact that someone used nofollow as a site architectural instrument, rather than a ‘punishment’. However, my results were mixed and increases in rankings are minimal.

    In your example moving from position #5 to #3 it is hard to prove statistically that this is caused by using nofollow. There are simply to many variables you don’t know and cannot control. I still think nofollow on internal links can be useful in cases where you cannot accomplish this with ‘classic’ site architecture, but I think the effects of nofollow on internal links shouldn’t be dramatized.

    Also, Matt makes statements that confuse me:
    “for Google, nofollow’ed links are dropped out of our link graph; we don’t even use such links for discovery.”

    If you create an orphan page on one domain and link to it with a nofollow link from another (trusted) domain you will find that page in Google’s index the next month. I recently tested this. So, is there something I don’t understand or did Google just ‘discover’ a page with help of a nofollow link?

    On one of my sites Google follows, indexes and ranks all my nofollowed pages. These pages have no other backlinks and still beat competitors for keyword phrases and single words. The only explanations I can think of:

    a) nofollow links still transfer some linkjuice. Maybe nofollow is used by Google as a damping factor which can be modified for each niche or site. This explains why sites still can rank for keywordphrases based on nofollow links from comments on (related) blogs.
    b) Google is leaving or downgrading the PageRank model and other factors are becoming more important.

  21. missfitsBy missfits on 24 March, 2008

    One question has not yet been taken in account and that is: who will use the nofollow at all?

    I think this entire discussion takes place in a part of the web that is highly affine to SEO. Other webmasters aren’t even aware that nofollow exists or how and most of all why they should make use of it.

    So, isn’t this a great tool to tell SEOs from NON-SEOs?

    A certain percentage of nofollows on a site will indicate that the webmaster is at least trying to play with pagerank or link juice.
    Optimizing a site is one thing… but shaping?
    Doesn’t that put you in a certain drawer? Maybe the drawer that is labled “SEO aware – take a very close look”… that puts you straight on Googles radar?

  22. Malte LandwehrBy Malte Landwehr on 24 March, 2008

    In my eyes, the internal usage of nofollow (especially if done heavily) is a clear sign for Google that an SEO is at work.
    That is of course not a problem if you are 100% whitehat but in case you are doing some shady things and have no intention of pointing Googlea anti-seo-attention to your side I would not advise you to use nofollow for siloing pagerank.

  23. MarcelBy Marcel on 24 March, 2008

    I totally agree. I also still have one question. I have a RSS index site that is quite new (pagerank 0). Now im showing the newest items at the frontpage. Now I doubt if its smart to link this items using nofollow. If I do this, the pages probably will never be indexed, or will be indexed when the news items are not news items anymore. If I dont nofollow them the problem is that categories will get less linkjuice.

    Can you help me out?

  24. Dixon JonesBy Dixon Jones on 24 March, 2008

    I have to agree with Mik. The discussion came up at the Link Building Fundametals session in NY where I was on the panel with Debra Mataler and David from Premier position. I didn’t hear david’s take, but mine is similar to Mikkel’s. We cannot even rely on Robots.txt to be adhered to properly by Google, so relying on Google t correctly interpret our intentions on our own site’s internal links by using a protocol designed for third party links is way beyond what the NoFollow tage was initially intended to do. What if… for example… several NoFollow links to a single domain was to be taken, by Google, to be a negative filter for the whole domain? You might be sowing the seeds of your own downfall.

    If you don’t want a page on your site to be indexed in Google, No Index it. That’s still flawed, but at least it doesn’t risk unintentional site-wide penalties.

  25. CatfishBy Catfish on 25 March, 2008

    I think this tool needs to be used responsibly. I don’t believe in using it to artifically boost Page Rank to your product pages by nofollowing the rest of your site navigation. But, putting it on security certificates, ad links with tracking codes, privacy statement (as long as it is linked to from the site map), shopping cart, and any other extraneous footer links makes a lot of sense. Most of those pages are of little value to searchers and if they appear on your homepage, depending on how many other links you have on the page, they can bleed a lot of Page Rank. So I use it to clean up footers and other non important links. But never to mask important links in my global site architecture. Everyone can draw their own conclusions for risk versus reward I guess.

  26. Jaan KanellisBy Jaan Kanellis on 25 March, 2008

    I thought I posted my why I dont believe in PR Sculpting points yesterday here, but I will do it again:

    I had a recent coversation through email with Aaron Wall. I sent him a few of my points concerning PR Sculpting and how much I thought it was a load of crap:

    Point 1 – We live in a bubble. 99% of the world doesn’t know what nofollow is and probably will never know until the W3 add it as proper markup. So are we to believe that Google has granted SEOs ONLY this special attribute that can help us rank better. No. It is only for Google benefit, not ours.

    Point 2 – The theory has not been tested enough and probably can’t be properly tested since to many outside forces effect rankings. That is why this 2nd order effect has no bearing. No has proven that spending a few minutes using nofollow helps your website do any better. Google is simply telling you that is will.

    Point 3 – External nofollow: The web and Google’s algorithm was built on the concept of linking one document to another. Now we should continue to do this, but in way that does not pass search engine value through the link? Who is benefiting here? The SE algo only. This really goes against why the web was built on links.

    Point 4 – Internal nofollow: I simply default to this post by Michael Martinez:

    http://seo-theory.com/wordpress/2008/03/05/yes-virginia-your-contact-page-does-need-500-links/

    Point 5 – PR is not tangible. One page doesn’t have 100 PR credits that you can feel free to divvy up as you like through internal linking. It is not that simple. The point I am trying to make is that these SEOs are trying to say they can sculpt something like PR. We all know toolbar PR is crap and internal PR is not known so…..where does one get off saying they can sculpt something they don’t know?

  27. MarcelBy Marcel on 25 March, 2008

    You dont have to see directly what your doing to be knowing what your’e doing. In SEO you cant measure everything. When I read the post of Michael Martinez I get the idea he doesnt get te point of pagerank sculpting.

  28. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 25 March, 2008

    Michael Martinez doesn’t get the point of a lot of things, IMHO :) Disclaimer though: I’ve never met him or spoken to him in person, yet.

  29. AndréBy André on 25 March, 2008

    @Malte Landwehr
    If internal usage of nofollow is a sign to google, that a SEO is at work, for what reason this could be bad?
    SEO means Search Engine Optimization. This means quality from the search engines perspective in the first place. SEO and BlackHat-SEO are two totally different approaches that you can´t divide by the existance of internal nofollow-links.
    There is absolutely no reason to penalize a site that hired some SEO know-how.

  30. Young googleBy Young google on 25 March, 2008

    NoFollow is your best friend when you are a mega-site with lots of prestige in google’s eyes. Also it’s your’s worst nightmare when you are expecting linking and backlinks from authority sites or a lot smaller places. You decide, spread the page rank or stay anonymous. After all it’s everybody’s decision.

  31. Jermayn ParkerBy Jermayn Parker on 26 March, 2008

    Interesting…

    Im really only a beginner/ medium range seo dude and while I personally believe in nofollow. I find the point about not following to the contact page interesting but would not having any page be better than not having any?

  32. Martin JamiesonBy Martin Jamieson on 26 March, 2008

    Just adding my 2 cents…

    I don’t think that the use of ‘nofollow’ necessarily puts up an ‘SEO at Work’ flag… for one main reason, most blog software uses it (at least in their comments) – in saying that, the use of it in comments is probably quite easy for Google to distinguish programatically from other uses if it chooses to (and they are all external, rather than internal anyway)

    Another interesting thing I’ve noticed… if you log into Google webmaster tools, and look at all the backlinks to your sites – I see a heap of nofollowed links showing up there (Yahoo Answers, blog comments etc. so Google does know about them).

    Overall though, I tend to just use nofollow on paid advertisements and affiliate links… from what I’ve read on what Matt says about it all, they seem to be the key points he keeps talking about… it’s not something I’ve used on internal links yet.

  33. Ryan MauleBy Ryan Maule on 26 March, 2008

    For me, the take home value of this post, and PR sculpting in general is sculpting your presence in the search engine results. Personally, I’ve often found pages indexed that I’d rather not be indexed (especially site maps and blog posts) which out-rank more valuable pages in my website.

    Another interesting use of nofollow is to link to pages which you do not want to be linked in the serps. Would a nofollow link from my blog to one of my personal websites prevent that blog from appearing in a link: query?

  34. Dev BasuBy Dev Basu on 26 March, 2008

    I’d have to agree with Joost on this one. I’ve used nofollow on large corporate sites in extremely competetive industries to move from #6 to #4 and such. Based on commentary from Matt Cutts, I’d have to say that is useful when used wisely. Playing safe in SEO (within white hat limits) will only get one’s rankings so far, and the proper use of nofollow at a granular link level can be part of the equation towards better rankings. It is by no means the holy grail of SEO, despite being one of the year’s biggest SEO buzz words

  35. massaBy massa on 27 March, 2008

    I’ve been reading a lot of your stuff lately Joost. You are obviously working hard and putting some thought into your work. I like that :)

    >Michael Martinez doesn’t get the point of a lot of things, IMHO :)<

    I’ve known MM for a long time now and I’m the first to admit he has a tendency to come off as a little abrasive, but you can be assured he is one of those people you dismiss at your own peril.

    He is smart and he knows his stuff.

  36. DaveBy Dave on 27 March, 2008

    Did anyone tested WHEN the use of nofollow can be helpful ?

    Does it work with a small site (a few 100 pages) or only with larger sites ?

    Dave

  37. Dev BasuBy Dev Basu on 27 March, 2008

    @ Dave – I’ve used nofollow on sites with 100 pages or less, and I’ve found that it isn’t as effective as using it on a larger site. To me, this makes sense because the larger the site is, the more probable that there will be PR leakage.

  38. shivaBy shiva on 28 March, 2008

    I have been siloing for 3 years and have reaped nothing but the positive benefits of providing quality structured content to the search engines.

  39. SEO Guide BlogBy SEO Guide Blog on 28 March, 2008

    Great discussion Joost, very informative, thanks. For Matt Cutts, I know that the only effect of nofollow in a link is just not passing link juice, that’s it. The nofollowed link will still be indexed and found by SE. I agree with Joost, it can be used within the limits of white hat SEO, if abused Google will find the way to penalize the use of it. Almost every blog on the Web uses nofollow tags.

  40. StevenBy Steven on 31 March, 2008

    Hi Joost, that’s a very interesting article. I’ll be using your standpoint in regard to the nofollow tag for an article I’m writing about nofollow tags that I’m writing myself. If you’re curious, you should come by in a couple of days when it’s finished. Keep up the good work!

  41. Personal shopperBy Personal shopper on 1 April, 2008

    Hey Joost. It looks interesting. I will use your advise. Ill come back to watch more articles.

  42. SEO UpdatesBy SEO Updates on 2 April, 2008

    Thanks for your informative posts. They aren’t like many others who give a little summary of rehashed information, you lay it out there and explain. Thanks.

  43. ITFXBy ITFX on 11 April, 2008

    Thanks for the article Joost and everyone else. There are quite a lot of informed opinion.

    In my opinion i can see the benefit of using it to inform Google of links that are less important or reach a dead end. I have a lot of PDF service documents on one of my websites that rank higher than other more important pages.

    I will try nofollow on these links and see where i get.

  44. Jesper JørgensenBy Jesper Jørgensen on 18 April, 2008

    I know this is a bit late entry, but here goes.

    >>Because of that “small” effect, I don’t think any search engine would ever find it enough of a problem to do something about it.

    Actually I can think of special cases where sculpting might have a significant impact on rankings. Consider a site:
    1) Having lots of incoming links to the front page (5000+)
    2) Say 100 internal pages
    3) A handfull keywords that it wants to rank for.

    Here, instead of using nofollow to “build” pagerank, you can use it to “keep” the incoming PageRank on say 5-6 pages optimized for the few keywords, and leaving all other pages with zero PageRank. This could give SEOs an advantage in rankings.

    Although I don’t think a heavy penalty could be expected, I could imagine that the tag will share the same fate as the meta-keywords tag. Overuse by SEO’s may cause it to be ignored in the future. Remember that the PageRank algorithm simulates the “random visitors chance of visiting a certain page”, and by tweaking the nofollow tag, you are actually telling the search engines that a page is more likely to be visited than is actually the case in the real world. Real visitors are going to leave the page through all links also the nofollowed ones.

    Just my 5 cents.

    /Jesper

  45. ChrisBy Chris on 18 July, 2008

    “I predict that if they aren’t doing it already, Google will be able to see and measure your site’s popularity across the whole web very soon.”

    Funny you mention that Jason. Check out this article I just stumbled across… http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/07/16/google-continues-to-test-a-search-interface-that-looks-more-like-digg-every-day/

  46. DennisBy Dennis on 12 November, 2008

    Hi Joost!! Great work :) Your articel is really interesting for every SEO (rookies and professionals) and i hope to read some more nice articels like this next time from you!

    Greetz from Germany!

  47. FrankBy Frank on 25 November, 2008

    Sculpting is not about getting correct pages indexed, it’s about passing weight to the pages that matters. Passing the value that would be otherwise wasted for page like “contact us”, “privacy policy” and “terms & conditions”.

  48. LakshmiBy Lakshmi on 22 April, 2009

    Always it is better to be under limit and as you stated that using “rel=nofollow” tag selectively, rarely and properly can indeed be an advantage.

  49. daily optBy daily opt on 7 May, 2009

    Great article and review. It certainly puts your own direction at risk and has influenced me to stay on the safe side.

    I also took at look at what my competitors are doing and I am not seeing a correlation to the use of the “rel=nofolow” to actual search rankings. Some of the sites in the top 3 use the “rel=nofollow” and some don’t, it doesn’t seem to have a real influence in my analysis.

  50. Robert SeviourBy Robert Seviour on 13 May, 2009

    Hail Gurus!

    Can anyone suggest where I can find a _simple_ guide to PR sculpting? I’ve read all the aboce and am intrigued but at a loss as to where to begin on my site.

  51. MarketSharerBy MarketSharer on 17 June, 2009

    Let the Page Rank Flow !
    Matt Cutts latest words on Page Rank Sculpting: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/

    • AndyBy Andy on 17 June, 2009

      It’s been over a year, but it looks like Mikkel was right when he said “I still don’t like using NOFOLLOW on internal links – I simply don’t trust how Google will use this over time.”

      • Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 17 June, 2009

        hehe don’t get me started. :)

  52. Mikkel deMib SvendsenBy Mikkel deMib Svendsen on 17 June, 2009

    I am not going to say: “What did I say” … :)

  53. TrondBy Trond on 7 July, 2009

    I have spent some time evaluation relevant HIGH PR sites and have been doing some sculpting for a while and I have gotten extremely good results. The pagerank has not gotten to the roof yet, but it is spidered EVERY minute (it looks like). After publishing articles in my blog I see them in the Google index after only 30-50 seconds! I also intend to use this on my latest domain moneyonline.net for the same great results.

    Thank you for a good article!

Trackbacks

  1. PageRank sculpting – Siloing and more – Yoast – Tweaking Websites…

    PR sculpting seems to be “all the rage” at the moment. Tracking the conversation back seems to get me to an article by Dan Thies of september 4th last year, pointing back to an interview with Matt on SEOmoz. It’s been a whole load of buzz lately, co…

  2. [...] årsager har talt mod at bruge pagerank sculpting. Eksempelvis Mikkel deMib i kommentarerne på dette blogindlæg hos Yoast. DeMib skriver, at han er tøvende overfor at bruge nofollow på interne links, fordi han ikke er [...]

  3. [...] Pagerank sculpting is een ‘geavanceerde’ SEO techniek, waarbij pagerank gemanipuleerd wordt. Deze manipulatie vindt ondermeer plaats door het gebruiken van het nofollow attribuut op bepaalde links. Meer uitleg van pagerank sculpting vind je op het blog van Matt Cutts. Ook Joost de Valk schreef eerder over pagerank sculpting. [...]