Google Finally Makes Up Their Mind About PageRank Sculpting With The No Follow Tag

So, last week at SMX Advanced, Matt Cutts mentioned that the nofollow tag no longer works as we once thought it did. He mentioned that the nofollowed links actually flow PageRank.

Well today Matt Cutts made his official statement:

Summary: Page rank sculpting using the nofollow tag no longer works to our desired effect.

So what happens when you have a page with “ten PageRank points” and ten outgoing links, and five of those links are nofollowed? 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.

So, before you could take PageRank from other pages and transfer it to you more important pages in hope of getting them to rank higher. (See Below)


Well now that is not the case. Nofollowed links now pass PageRank. (See Below)


So what the hell does this mean to us?

Well don’t worry PageRank sculpting has been around way before the nofollow tag. The nofollow tag just made it much easier to implement. You can still deploy your no follow tactic with the use of iframes, flash, and Javascript in your site. However, this can sometimes get complicated for the average webmaster or website owner.

So just relax and do not worry about PageRank sculpting!? WHAT?! Yea that’s right don’t worry about it because a solid site link architecture will solve this problem. A good start is to link to more important pages higher up in your site structure (like off your homepage, see image below).


Also, implementing flat site architecture is recommended. Check out SEOmoz’s white board Friday video regarding this:

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday - Flat Site Architecture from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.

What else did we learn from Matt Cutt’s post and this announcement:

  1. 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. This could mean that expert SEO testing is usually worthless.
  2. 10-15% of the PageRank on any given page disappearing before the PageRank flows along the outlinks. I like to call this PageRank erosion.
  3. Linking to high-quality sites does not help your PageRank, however other parts of Google’s system would encourage/reward those links. Sounds like outbound links to high quality sites can help sites ranking in general. This makes sense to me because it helps Google in defining what niche / industry / keyword groupings your site belongs to.
  4. Google does not expect this to change again.
  5. People are scared about blog commenting. Think about, if I got a story on the homepage of reddit or digg, which attracts a large amount of links. All the comments I would received would be bleeding PageRank and devalue the PageRank of the post.

Want to read more about this? No problem, here you go:

And of course we courage you to share your opinion on this topic so please comment below!

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7:50 am SEO

One Response

  1. Iain Scott Says:

    Maybe I’m wrong here, but I didn’t read Matt Cutts’ article in this way.

    In your diagram above and your copy, you mention that:

    Well now that is not the case. Nofollowed links now pass PageRank.

    In Matt Cutts’ article, it seems very clear that:

    Nofollow links definitely don’t pass PageRank.

    However, the point here is that the number of links on a webpage still matters. So of the 5 links that don’t have the nofollow, those will only gain 1 PR flow as opposed to the 2 (i.e. not soaking up the PR flow offset from the nofollow links).

    You’ve mentioned that referred links will gain PR from referred pages and this doesn’t appear to be the case.

    …or have I misunderstood this?

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