Nathan Anderson’s personal blog
PR Sculpting via Nofollow – Myth and Reality
Posted in Search Engine Optimization by Nathan | June 11 th , 2009
I just read yet another article from a big-name muckity at a big SEO company about “PR Sculpting with the nofollow tag”. It took real restraint not to add a comment (as a rule, I don’t… it just encourages them).
“PR Sculpting with the nofollow tag” is like saying “Cake decorating with chainsaws”. The two don’t go together. The nofollow tag was not created in any way with this purpose in mind, and it doesn’t function well in this usage.
The nofollow tag is used in relation to links using the ‘<a href=’ HTML code within a web page. It was created to tell search engines (read – Google) whether or not a link is “trusted” by the site owner. It can serve to minimize blog comment spam, as it tells Google that links in your comments are not to be trusted, and it can serve to tell Google that certain links on your site are advertisements, not links you personally endorse.
I think the whole confusion arose from the name of the tag itself. Google made a mistake. (no lynch mobs, please!) Google should have named it something else… like notrust or noreference or similar. Because the Google spider (called Googlebot) most certainly follows links with rel=nofollow added to them. You can prove this for yourself by registering a new domain name and uploading a basic site of some sort like a blog; then go place a comment on a blog that uses the nofollow tag, with a link back to your new domain. You’ll see googlebot in your stats in no time, and the referencing site will be the blog you placed the comment on.
We’ve done a number of experiments in SEO Club with nofollow links, and not only does googlebot follow them, Google gives some juice to them as well. You can get a site ranked in a long-tail niche with only comments on blogs with nofollow usage.
So why in the world would you ever use such an amorphous and unpredictable tool for something called SCULPTING?
Yes, sculpting PR is a very real and effective strategy. I’ve taught it for 8 years now. You want complete control over your on-site linking strategy to ensure that maximum “juice” or trust is directed at the most important pages of your site. You also want to maximize the usage of the proper anchor text in these links.
Second example: You have a site that you want to rank for the term “low-inome mortgage modification”. That’s the targeted term for the home page of the site. So you want internal links to have “low-income mortgage modification” as the anchor text of the links. If you have only one main site navigation, that might not only look unruly, but also be very confusing to visitors. You want the main navigation to the homepage labeled “home”. Again, you just make the “home” link JS or Flash, and then place a link with the proper anchor text back to the homepage someplace else in the site template or in the navigation.
Those two examples are very simple forms of PR Sculpting. More advanced methodologies… I don’t need to go into detail about here.
So let’s go back to PR Sculpting via nofollow. Are you going to use a tool that denotes “do not trust this link” to point to pages on YOUR OWN SITE? That’s crazy. And it doesn’t work. If the proponents of such methods would simply empirically test these strategies, they’d already know that. What it comes back to is yet another example of an SEO strategy that is simply there to impress clients and newbie SEO enthusiasts.
So go ahead and do some “sclupting” to the PR flow of your site. Just use the proper tools!