By Bryson Meunier, Natural Search Associate Director, Content Solutions
If you’re not an SEO it’s unlikely that you know or care about PageRank sculpting, the optimization technique that was privately disabled by Google about a year ago and publicly invalidated by Google’s Matt Cutts at SMX Advanced earlier this month. Many in the SEO community are talking loudly about the quiet change, but there’s no reason for legitimate marketers to be overly concerned by the announcement.
PageRank sculpting is a “power SEO” technique that was first introduced to the SEO community by NetConcepts’ Stephan Spencer on Search Engine Land in December 2007 as a way of optimizing e-commerce sites. PageRank sculpting is the act of controlling the flow of PageRank on your internal pages so as to funnel the link equity into the most important pages on your web site, typically through the use of rel=nofollow (nofollow). The end result is to help critical pages become more competitive in search results by turning up the dial on the the off-page link popularity signal, which Google calls PageRank. Many SEOs used this technique from around December 2007 to June 2009, when Matt Cutts from Google announced that using nofollow to control the flow of link equity is no longer a best practice, and hasn’t been effective since about June 2008.
- Prior to the change a year ago, using the nofollow attribute to control the flow of PageRank was thought to deliver more link equity to the links on the page that were not nofollowed. If the link equity to be distributed was equal to 10 points and five of the links were nofollowed, the remaining five links would receive two points each.
- With Google’s recent announcement, the SEO community understands that using nofollow to control the flow of PageRank through a site is no longer effective, or recommended. If the link equity to be distributed was equal to ten points and five of the links are nofollowed, the remaining five links still only receive one point each.
- This announcement only applies to market leader Google. Using nofollow to control the flow of link equity through a site may still be effective in Yahoo! and Bing.
- There are a number of ways to control the flow of PageRank without using the nofollow attribute. Making key pages more visible in a site’s information architecture can increase the natural visibility of those pages.
- This announcement is of a change to the algorithm that happened about a year ago. Any increase in organic traffic that happened since then can no longer be attributed to PageRank sculpting with the nofollow attribute.