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June 30, 2009

Forget No-Follow: Try This PageRank Sculpting SEO Alternative

In case you are searching for SEO alternatives for the rel=”nofollow” tag to sculpt page rank, at the end of this post there are links and suggestions for an old school work around. But first, an overview of Page Rank Sculpting…Page Rank Sculpting Overview:

Over time the links you use as anchors become prominent as each page in your website takes on more authority. Not only are links just a way from getting from point A to point B within a website, but they also inherently hold the keys to search engine rankings as search engines use links and anchor text to assess relevance.

Search engines crawl links (within your website) to determine context and align the on page data (what the page is about) to other pages in the site and off page data (what other sites say about your pages).

Sometimes, by using the same links consistently across large areas of a website (such as navigation or a sidebar or template), you unintentionally diffuse the topic of the context or context of that segment. Page rank sculpting allows you to minimize the negative impact or hemorrhaging link flow, while consolidating the most significant links from the most significant sources within your website.

The Dilemma: Structuring Which Links Pass Value

The reason why the no-follow tag became popular was for sites linking out to others, the no-follow tag suppresses link flow from leaving the site providing the link to the site being linked to (in case you do not care to vouch for them or let them rank off your domain authority).

Seeing the benefits of this, some SEO’s began using the no-follow tag to sculpt the way that Google’s crawlers sifted through their pages. The premise was that by adding a no-follow tag to a link that it would become invisible to the crawlers and then proportionately provide more link juice to the remaining links on the page, this is page rank sculpting.

Much to the dismay of SEO’s (who were possibly some of the only people using no-follow to begin with), Google changed the way they processed the no-follow tag and suggested that instead of the link being invisible and the remaining link flow going to other links (which the link flow from the link) in the no-follow tag simply evaporated.

As a result, those who used the tag internally essentially have disrupted their own internal link graph not to mention could incur dips in rankings due to the amount of trust moving from page to page being diminished.

Now, for the Technique

As promised, here is the link to an “old school” advanced SEO technique hailing from the, pre-nofollow tag” era. In addition to using javascript links (which are now crawled from search engines), here is one no-follow alternative that you can employ in minutes courtesy of renowned SEO expert Charles Hefflin from

For those unfamiliar with the technique, the no-follow tag is a tag you can implement within the html code that allows a website to “link out to others” and not incur one of two things (1) theme diffusion or (2) a potential penalty from Google.

This tactic uses a minor modification to your robots.txt file and /cgi-bin/ directory and redirects links from a /cgi-bin/ script that elects to block spiders from crawling from the robots.txt via an exclusion command like the one noted below as an example.

User-agent: *

Disallow: /folder/

This is one of many techniques you could employ, but this one is quick, effective and preserves the link equity you have within your own website.

In the event you are curious to what the reference is for theme bleeding (it is covered in Charles’s post), or you can refer to our post on theme density and theming and siloing for a larger overview as an effective alternative to using flat site architecture (keeping all files in the root folder vs. subfolders segmented by topic) for search engine optimization.

Hat tip once again to Charles Hefflin on this priceless SEO technique that places the power of “page rank sculpting” back in the hands of webmasters who can appreciate the simple beauty and impact of this effective on page SEO technique. That is of course, if you elect to use it…

Jeffrey Smith is an active internet marketing optimization strategist, consultant and the founder of Seo Design Solutions Seo Company He has actively been involved in internet marketing since 1995 and brings a wealth of collective experiences and fresh marketing strategies to individuals involved in online business.