No Follow Confusion and PPC Perks

If you stay on top of SEO news you will be aware of recent comments made by Matt Cutts in relation to nofollow links, if not you can find the full details at searchengineland.

Nofollow is a popular link attribute used to prevent Google from following links on your site, the use of it can help your pages retain more pagerank therefore enhancing your rankings. You can read more on nofollow at “Getting to grips with nofollow”.

On top of the nofollow hammer there have also been suggestions that Google maybe following PPC campaign links within javaScript, something Google is getting more and more advanced at doing.

All this is enough to leave any SEO in confusion, if the two above points are correct it makes “chasing the algorithm” extremely difficult due the vague nature of link following and link iimportance.

I thought in todays post it would be a good idea to go through what these changes mean and what effect they could have on your SEO efforts.

No Follow

I think the best way to explain the possible nofollow change is by using a couple of diagrams.

Outgoing Links

Here we have 3 outgoing links all passing on x10 ‘link juice”, therefore the page has x30 PageRank to pass on to other pages.

nofollow diagram

Pretty straight forward.

Link 1 is now nofollow

If we were to nofollow the first link then links 2 and 3 would share out the link juice from link 1 respectively, as seen below.

nofollow link

As you can see the 2 remaining “follow” links pass on a little more link juice. You can see how sculpting your links using nofollow can help enhance PageRank and send the most link juice to our most important pages.

What Matt Cutts says

OK so Matt Cutts has told the online marketing world that a nofollow link has no effect on the amount of link juice other links from a page will pass. So using our above examples, if your page has x30 PageRank to give nofollowing 1 of the three links will not increase the link flow on the other 2, as so;

nofollow link

So link sculpting is dead right? Well I’m not sure, you see Google has neither clarified or confirmed the above information and I personally think it could be a little bit of scare tactic to put SEO’s off using the nofollow attribute.

It was only a week or two ago Matt was talking about PageRank Sculpting and admitted to the fact that it worked, albeit he did advise nofollow was not the best way to do it, but never denied it worked.

Does link sculpting using the nofollow still work? Who knows is the only answer and it leaves a certain amount of uncertainty when trying to focus our sites, Google should really clarify this.

Adwords Enhances Organic Results???

This is related to a story that came from searchenginewatch and showed a case study involving a clients account which was being ranked for anchor text used in their PPC campaigns.

Webmaster tools confirmed Google were picking up on the anchor text and a quick ranking check proved they were sitting pretty high for the term.

I personally think this may a little out and that even if Google is passing relevancy through PPC ads, it will be something they jump on quickly as it is against their own “paid links” policy.

The problem is, for anyone involved in SEO, how do we know what benefits our sites the most???

Can Google crawal script effectively?
Do all links pass relevancy? Even Ads?
Does nofollow still work?
Can we still use nofollow on paid links?

We know that Google is able to extract links from javascript but can they do it effectively, can they prevent paid “java” links from counting and how will they determine this.

All the above news fills the SEO industry with uncertainty and Google really should clarify the position, but as always it’s not forth coming. This is why it is important for SEO’s to do their own case studies to see what works and what does not, it creates more work but such is the life of an SEO.

Please let me know your thoughts on the debate.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.