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Pagerank Sculpting and Nofollow on Internal Links

By David | July 3, 2010 | Home | Blog Categories | Articles

sculpting pagerankUse of "nofollow" on Internal Links

While phpLD does not have an abundance of the rel=nofollow attribute, it is important that you don't make widespread use of this tag, Currently, for the most recent releases of phpLD the only place it is used is on the Advanced Search link. I know that some have also used the tag on the Register link. You may want to watch the video Matt Cutts (see below) where he discusses it. The way I understand it he is saying that when you place nofollow attributes on your internal links, the pagerank is not being passed through the site. In essence, a nofollow tag on an internal link results in a loss of pagerank that would have otherwise been passed. I would recommend removing the nofollow tag from your Advanced Search link and we will be doing this on the phpLD general release as well.

PageRank Sculpting

As a basic premise, most people are interested in having their homepage have a high pagerank, and then "sculpting" the pagerank through the site, usually from top down. If your homepage contains 100 links on it (including internal links), you are equally distributing the pagerank power of your homepage to each of those 100 links. The resulting pagerank is probably not going to be that high. As we get into widgets and other fancy items to make our pages add coolness factor, it is important to recognize that installing a dozen widgets is probably not a good idea. I would even go so far as to say you might want to try removing the "top categories" widget.  

If you wanted to be an absolute purist, and increase the chances that pagerank is going to flow from your homepage downward, here is a short list of items you would want to consider:

  1. Reduce the links on your navbar to the minimum possible. For example, you might want to remove Top Hits and Latest Links (but only if you feel comfortable removing them).
  2. Don't place any widgets on your directory that add links, especially on the homepage. Note that some widgets use javascript links and these may not count against you (ex. Twitter and Disqus widgets)
  3. Consider removing links to subcategories from your homepage category list. Just show the top level categories.
  4. On category pages, you might want to consider using pagination so that you don't show more that about 10 links per page. Also, what we have seen some people do recently is only offer direct links from the category page if they pay for featured, but then go to the Read More page for detail pages. The result can mean there are 3 or less external links from category pages.
  5. Elimination of stub pages should be a priority. Why would you want to pass pagerank to pages that contain no links? Instead build your category structure slowly, and make sure each page counts. This is also great for the user, as when they arrive at your site, they are guaranteed to find useful content.

I wanted to add a little more about point #3 above. If you have an old directory that for whatever reason has a low pagerank on the homepage, and zero pagerank on category pages, you probably aren't helping the sites that you are linking out to all that much. By taking steps to improve your pagerank, it should add value for your listings. That said, if you aren't doing anything about the quality of your directory, this step probably won't help much either.

With some work, you get the total links on your homepage to 20 or less, as well as make sure that the internal pages of your site are meaningful. There has been a lot of talk about directories not having internal pagerank, and I hope that after reading this article you can see why! This is a great time to take some positive action improve your pagerank, as well as improve the user experience. More and more, you can't have one without the other.

For further research, also take a look at this video by Matt Cutts about No Follow Links.
Best of Luck!

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Publish date: July 3, 2010
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