Has Google called time on PageRank sculpting?

Posted on June 7, 2009


We’ve talked about PageRank sculpting before and the current debate surrounding its ethics as an SEO strategy. PageRank sculpting is where you use the Google invented ‘nofollow’ tag to stop link juice, or PageRank, flowing to pages on your website that you don’t want to receive any significance from Google (such as terms and condition pages, login pages or privacy policy pages) so that your other, more important pages receive more Google love and rank higher.

The system worked fairly well, and with Google’s backing SEOs could be fairly sure they weren’t doing anything wrong.

However Google’s king of spam, Matt Cutts, may have thrown a Google shaped spanner in the works. Speaking at SMX Advanced, Cutts stated that while sites wouldn’t be penalised for PageRank sculpting, they wouldn’t necessarily get any added benefit from it either.

It’s not gonna get you a penalty. You’re not gonna get in trouble or anything. We’re not gonna say “oh all of these internal links are nofollowed” or anything like that. However, it’s not as effective, so it’s definitely a better use of your time to go and make new content.

If you’re using nofollow to change how PageRank flows around within your site, it’s almost like a band-aid. It’s better to make your site the way you want PageRank to flow from the beginning, and then it’s good for users, and it’s good for search engines.

So how you choose to link within your site is your own business, and I would tell people you can try to sculpt PageRank, but it’s not gonna be as useful. So I would urge people to make new content or think about how to link within your site. Put your best products right up on your root page, and things like that. And that’s gonna be a much better way to “sculpt” PageRank than using nofollow.

So there you have it. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using nofollow to sculpt your PageRank, there are better and more effective ways to make sure that Google perceives your more important pages to be just as important as you do.

  • […] head of spam, Matt Cutts, recently spoke about PageRank sculpting and how people’s efforts to ‘sculpt’ their PageRank by adding nofollow tags to unimportant […]

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