Google NOFOLLOW Change (and why this isn’t news)


Or, Chicken Little and rel=nofollow

Google recently admitted they have changed the way they pass page rank to pages from a page that has the nofollow attribute attached to one or more of the links on the page.

Actually, it isn’t really all that recent, but I’m still seeing articles about the subject.  In fact, someone just sent me another article yesterday.  The whole thing sounds just like Chicken Little claiming the sky is falling because an acorn landed on her head.

Not only is this change not news-worthy, anybody who is worrying about how this change is going to impact his search rankings is probably wasting his time.


The nofollow tag was originally created by Google to help curb blog comment spam.  One of Google’s big failures.  The idea way, if you marked a hyperlink as nofollow, Google would not pass link juice credit on to the page the hyperlink was pointing to.  Therefore, there would be no incentive for comment spammers to leave their worthless comments.

Then the SEOs got a hold of it.

If we can control how much link juice credit is being passed out of our site, then we could use the same mechanism to control the link juice credit within our site, right?

Sure.  If you have pages that you don’t want to have rank in the search engines, it would make sense to nofollow those links.  For example, there is no point in having your Terms and Conditions page, your Privacy Policy, or your Contact Us page ranking in the search engine.  You should do anything you can to make sure they don’t.

But the SEOs went beyond this.  They figured they could use this same technique to control which pages on their site had the most link juice.  This is called Link Sculpting.

And That’s Why Everyone Thinks This Change Is News

Originally, if I had five links on my page and one of them was a nofollow link, Google would pass 25% of my page’s link juice to each of the other four links.

Now, if I have five links on my page and one of them is nofollow, Google will only pass 20% of my page’s link juice to each of the remaining four pages.

The Question No One Seems to Be Asking

IF you are Link Sculpting, this change is a huge problem, because now instead of moving link juice around, you are actually leaking link juice.

But the question that no one is asking is, “should you be link sculpting in the first place?”

Before I continue, let me be clear.  I have no doubt that link sculpting “works.”  What I question is its effectiveness relative to other things you might be doing.

My experience has taught me that social bookmarking, links from directory sites, links from article directories, links from other blogs, and most importantly, good content, will be much more effective in getting your site to rank.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that if you spent the same amount of time creating new content for your site as you did trying to move the page rank around your site, you’d be much further ahead in the SEO game.

Page Sculpting Isn’t Dead

For those of you who aren’t convinced that page sculpting is a waste of time, just use javascript to hide your links from Google.  This is how it was done prior to the nofollow attribute and it still seems to work today.

Search Optimization Is Like Fishing

The pages on your site are the bait.  Which is more likely to get you fish? 1000 fishing poles with average bait?  Or 1000 fishing poles, but only 50 have really good bait?

If you spend your time putting bait on all 1000 fishing poles, you’ll get a lot more fish.

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