The Plumber Goes Do Follow! And You Should Too.

by on June 19, 2009

Well, Matt Curtis from Google dropped a bombshell on the SEO community the other night by clarifying the “basic” operation of PageRank, the value of link sculpting, and what really happens when you nofollow a link.

He made it very clear that this was based on a simplified version of Page Rank than what Google uses today and that even nofollow links counted for something in other Google calculations as linking to good sites can actually help you in some ways.

The general ideas were these:

  1. PageRank sculpting should be considered tertiary (as in not first or second) to such high value things as creating good content and link building.
  2. Internal link sculpting does has some value, meaning putting your high value pages linked directly from the home page and not three levels deep.  Sculpting using nofollow is worse than a waste of time, it can actually hurt.
  3. PageRank decays by 10%-15% before it’s ever split up to be redistributed among the links on a page, in order to prevent “infinite Page Rank” from occurring on a closed site.
  4. Nofollow tags eat pagerank.  If you have 10 links on a page, and you have 10 “points” of PageRank, each link gets 1 point passed to it.  If 5 of those links are tagged with rel=nofollow, you LOSE those 5 points of PageRank.

Number 3 and 4 have the largest implications for site owners for blogs and anyone that has attempted link sculpting using nofollow.  Here is what we at the Electron Plumber took away from this:

  • Remove nofollow from everywhere internal to your site.   Make sure you don’t have any pages that add nofollow to the whole page especially or they basically become PageRank black holes.  Nofollow eats PageRank.  If you want a page to not be indexed by the search engines, use noindex.
  • Reduce the number of links on a page to pass the greatest amount of “link juice” to other pages.
  • PageRank splits and decay basically buries old content on your blog.   Say you have 100 points of page rank on your home page, 9 posts on the home page and no links other than the “Previous Entries” one at the bottom to your older posts.  So each link gets 10 points of Page rank, but 10% decays, so each really gets 9 points.  So 9 points go to your Previous Entries page, or your page 2.  That has 9 links and 1 Previous Entries on it and 10% decay.  So each link gets 0.8 points sent to it.  Previous Entries again, or page 3, now has 0.8 points to distribute, etc.  Once you get to Previous Entries page 5, the Page Rank reaches so close to 0 as to be meaningless.  You can “refresh it” to bring it forward, or create a “greatest hits” page off your home page to give those old but valuable posts some link love.
  • Blog comments with URL’s eat PageRank!  If you have 10 sidebar links total, 2 internal links on an article, and 88 nofollowed comment author URLs, your pagerank is 88% dying at that page, more actually because of the decay.  Either turn off comment links completely or split them into comment pages AND limit the number of links allowed per comment to one per commenter (which is what we decided to do for now).
  • Don’t pile too many posts into your most popular categories.  Here at the Plumber, we’ve been getting our most search engine traffic lately to the “Bullsh*t Exposted” category.  However, it holds the greatest number of posts, which dilutes the amount of PageRank each gets from the homepage, where as “Arbitrage” has only two posts in it and gets virtually no search traffic.  Probably going to restructure that somehow, although we haven’t talked or through much about it yet.
  • Link your top search content from the home page using targeted keywords to improve your search engine rankings for those keywords.

Those are the messages we took from Matt’s post.  Use them to help boost your search engine rankings where you can!

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