tofollow or nofollow: that is the question

Every time Google makes an official announcement about an SEO technique, the effects on the SEO community can be compared to an earthquake or a tsunami and this time wasn’t different, since Matt Cutts announced that “PageRank Sculpting” could no longer be performed using the nofollow tag, site owners and SEOs have gone mad.

What is PageRank Sculpting?

First of all, the only way to pass PageRank is via links on a given page. Now imagine a page with £10 of PageRank to spend, this page has 10 outbound links, these links could be to other pages inside the same site or to other sites, that doesn’t matter, the point is each link will receive £1.

Let’s say we used the nofollow tag on 5 of those links, till now it was believed that the other 5 links would get £2  instead of £1 each which would help those five pages rank a bit better. So let’s say there is a login page within your or less important pages that you don’t want to rank well, before you could nofollow the links to those pages and direct PageRank to more important pages, that is how PageRank Sculpting worked.

The Death of PageRank Sculpting

“What happens when you have a page with ‘ten PageRank points’ and ten outgoing links, and five of those links are no followed? Let’s leave aside the decay factor to focus on the core part of the question. Originally, the five links without nofollow would have flowed two points of PageRank each (in essence, the nofollowed links didn’t count toward the denominator when dividing PageRank by the outdegree of the page). More than a year ago, Google changed how the PageRank flows so that the five links without nofollow would flow one point of PageRank each.”

The above is quote from Matt Cutts’ announcing the death of PageRank sculpting; well at least with the use of the nofollow tag. Basically what Matt is saying that, links with a nofollow tag still get no “PageRank money” at all and regular links continue to get £1 each.

What makes me laugh is the SEOs who have been quoting the benefits of their “PageRank Sculpting” over the past year, when Google changed the way PageRank flows over a year ago.


To sum things up on how Google assigns PageRank here is a quote from Danny Sullivan that explains the matter in a simple and easy to understand way:

“Google itself solely decides how much PageRank will flow to each and every link on a particular page. In general, the more links on a page, the less PageRank each link gets. Google might decide some links don’t deserve credit and give them no PageRank. The use of nofollow doesn’t ‘conserve’ PageRank for other links; it simply prevents those links from getting any PageRank that Google otherwise might have given them.”

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