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July 1, 2009

Google PageRank Sculpting is Dead

For those of you using advanced SEO techniques such as PageRank sculpting, you might want to listen up.

Head of Google’s crime spam fighting team, Matt Cutts, put the cat amongst the pigeons last month when he answered an audience question at the SMX Advanced conference about the value of using rel=”no follow” for PageRank sculpting purposes. When asked if it was a good idea to use nofollow when linking around within your site, Matt said no.

NoFollow is a method to annotate a link to say to search engines “I don’t want to vouch for this link.” In Google, nofollow links don’t pass PageRank.

According to Matt, more than a year ago, Google changed how the PageRank flows so that links WITHOUT nofollow would flow lesser points of PageRank than before and that links WITH the nofollow attribute would count toward how PageRank is divided up amongst all links on a page.

Seems SEOs and webmasters were getting a little bit trigger happy with their use of rel=”no follow” for Google crawl prioritization and were accidently blocking Googlebot from indexing important parts of their site.

Matt later clarified the issue with his blog post PageRank Sculpting:

“[We] noticed some sites that attempted to change how PageRank flowed within their sites, but those sites ended up excluding sections of their site that had high-quality information (e.g. user forums)… I wouldn’t recommend [PageRank sculpting], because it isn’t the most effective way to utilize your PageRank. In general, I would let PageRank flow freely within your site. The notion of “PageRank sculpting” has always been a second- or third-order recommendation for us. I would recommend the first-order things to pay attention to are 1) making great content that will attract links in the first place, and 2) choosing a site architecture that makes your site usable/crawlable for humans and search engines alike. For example, it makes a much bigger difference to make sure that people (and bots) can reach the pages on your site by clicking links than it ever did to sculpt PageRank. “

Danny Sullivan has a great follow up post that goes into more detail here.

So the short story is this: PageRank sculpting is no longer effective as a SEO technique (if it ever was). For the most part, the more links on a page, the less PageRank each link gets. Keep that in mind whenever you’re optimizing your site and when you build new pages.

9 Responses to “Google PageRank Sculpting is Dead

    avatar says:

    All these changes make it hard for anyone to keep up. My advice is to not put all your eggs into one basket and rely solely on Google. Social Media is becoming huge. Just leave a comment on everything you read. Forget what you see and simply concentrate on getting out there.

    avatar DesignFirms says:

    I don’t even worry about pagerank anymore. There are some great sites out there with a PR3 that receive more traffic than a site with a PR6. Page rank is only one other way for Google to make money in my opinion. One day, we aren’t supposed to link to a site and the next day we are! Sounds like someone has bipolar disorder to me!

    avatar Google PageRank Sculpting is Dead | says:

    […] Read more from the original source: Google PageRank Sculpting is Dead […]

    avatar Frugalocal says:

    I agree it is difficult to keep up with the ongoing SEO changes, but in the end it is worth it for commercial sites. Social media isn’t for everyone, when local consumers are looking for a local landscaper they’ll still turn to Google.

    I have been monitoring PR changes and the effect this has in SERPS over four websites for the past six months. I have not found any link between improved PR and better SERPS results for the sites.

    avatar ChiefLee says:

    Hi Kalena, I think your title that “PageRank Sculpting is Dead” is very inaccurate. Google wants you to sculpt through the architecture of your site, not to do it using the nofollow tag. Sculpting is still alive and well.

    avatar Sergey says:

    Nice post! but you fogot to add free website monitoring –

    avatar Alex says:

    Nice post! but you fogot to add free website monitoring –

    avatar spotify says:

    we cant predict google page rank exactly

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