PageRank Sculpting: Using NoFollow Wisely

Wed, Jul 15, 2009

Link Building

Ever since Google announced in June that they would be reworking the PageRank algorithms to rework how nofollow links are processed, SEO firms have been looking for a way to minimize their risk of losing link juice as this new method rolls out. To put it simply, Google is no longer treating pages with nofollow links as “not existing”. The page does exist, and the link juice (PageRank) is not redistributed over the remaining links on a page when other pages have the NoFollow directive.

For example, let’s say we have a page with 5 links on it and a PageRank of 5. One of those links we have a NoFollow directive on. In the past the remaining 4 links would have received 1.25 “PageRank points” each. In other words, the PageRank was distributed out over all the links that were followed. Under the new rules, however, the remaining links would only get 1 point as even though the NoFollow link isn’t taken into account, the fact that it exists still takes away one of the PageRank points.

Of course, lost in this whole technical explanation is the user experience. Often times SEO folks forget that there are end users who are trying to view and use these pages, and they have to design them so the end user gets some benefit out of them. It’s quite possible to over-SEO a page to the point where it may make perfect sense to Google and the other ranking algorithms, but it is totally unusable by an end user!

One of the ways to make sure you don’t lose your link juice and PageRank is by consolidating your content onto a single page and using hash tags. For example, say you have a section on your site that talks about your company. You may have a contact page, an about page and a trademark page. In the past these were three separate pages, but using a consolidation strategy you can put them all onto a single page and then refer to the content sections using section markers (hash tags). So for example, the URL [http://www.yourcompany/about/trademark.html] becomes [http://www.yourcompany/about.html#trademark]

The benefits of doing this is the search engines instead of seeing 6 links off your main page now only see one link, so that link gets all of the link juice. That is on top of the fact that to the end user they are not able to navigate the content better! It’s a win-win scenario for many situations – but remember, only related content should be considered for consolidation. You wouldn’t want to consolidate your about page and your ordering page, for example.

Using this “new” technique (which has in reality been around for years) is a way to get back the classic benefits of the NoFollow before Google changed the rules on us. When used properly it can help you keep your paged well ranked as well as help improve your end user experience – two wins in one!

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This post was written by:

Cassiano Travareli - who has written 90 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.

SEO Specialist! Loves everything about Search Engine Marketing.