Tony Adam

Entrepreneur, Marketer, Aspiring Polymath


Sculpting PageRank using rel=nofollow for Link Architecture

March 5, 2008 9

Over the years I’ve been practicing a lot of different techniques with my internal link architecture. One of the things that I have been doing more and more of is evaluating when to use the rel=”nofollow” tag on the internal links.

Why is this important?
Well, in order to make the content within your site more relevant, you need to tell the search engine what is and is not relevant. Using rel=”nofollow” within your internal link architecture is a great way identify links that you do not want ranked well within the SERPs.

For example, contact us pages, FAQ pages, help pages, etc. are really not pages that most people want to be ranking well. By using rel=”nofollow” on those links, you are telling the search algorithm not to pass any link juice or PageRank (google specific) to the linked page.

How do you do this?
Start by establishing a listing of the types of pages that I talk about above. Next, you are going to want to do a site wide update of your links. For example, its as simple as updating your markup to the following:

Now that you have all the major ones out of the way, I recommend taking a few minutes to analyze your links on a page by page basis to see where you want to distribute the link value within your web site.

That’s all!

It is a fairly simple process, but one that I find especially crucial when I start looking at the Information Architecture and Link Architecture of any website.

Related Articles:
Website Link Architecture for link text and Image ALT text

There are 9 comments

  • Carolina says:

    Great article! The thought was overwhelming at first, but doing a site-wide update of the big ones shouldn’t be too hard (or take too much convincing!).

  • Tony,

    But hold up a second. That’s going against the Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines!

    It clearly states that you should “Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”

    So why should I even consider using nofollow on internal links? That’s solely for robots!

    disclaimer: I completely agree with what you’re saying, I’m just slightly bashing Google because they need to update their guidelines

  • Tony Adam says:


    Thanks for the feedback!

    So, Google does this within their own site. Using the “nofollow” attribute is not considered cloaking, as you are not changing the display of information, rather you are choosing which pages you wish to pass Page Rank value.


  • iamshimone says:

    I agree with Tony. rel=nofollow is not cloaking as both the user and search engine see the same 1 page. Cloaking is when you actually create and deliver 2 separate pages. One for the search engine and one for the user.

    What I’m not certain about is the purpose of hiding useless pages from search engines using nofollow. The purpose of a search engine is to return relevant results. I can’t remember the last time (if any) that I ran a search and the results returned sitemap, contact, and help pages.

  • Tony,

    I’ve actually brought this up to current Google and ex-Google (Xooglers) employees about usage of nofollow on the google.com domain. The basic response was “pagerank flow control” — which goes completely against their guidelines.

    The guidelines have been published for quite a while now. But I’m still wondering why they haven’t updated them because nofollow doesn’t do a darn thing for a human. Nofollow does not matter for anyone but robots, which is not how “we’re supposed to design a website”

    Just a bit frustrating that Google says one thing, then does another.


    I wasn’t referring to cloaking nearly as much, but mostly the first part of the statement.

    Make pages for users, not for search engines.

    That’s the part we should be looking at, I feel.

  • Rao S. Thotakura says:

    I agree that low ranked pages should not be served as a result of search operation. I’m wondering if the attribute value “nofollow” a W3C approved link type. If not, how is Google using it to determine what result page is relevant and what is not?

  • Dave says:

    Matt was very clear about the usage of the nofollow a while ago :

    quote : The nofollow attribute is just a mechanism that gives webmasters the ability to modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity.
    There’s no stigma to using nofollow, even on your own internal links; for Google, nofollow’ed links are dropped out of our link graph; we don’t even use such links for discovery.



  • John Illnes says:

    The official claim is that links with the rel=nofollow attribute do not influence the search engine rankings of the target page. In addition to Google, Yahoo and MSN also support the rel=nofollow attribute.

    i think it helps indexing….

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