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Thread: Does PR Sculpting Work?

  1. #1
    WebProWorld MVP incrediblehelp's Avatar
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    Does PR Sculpting Work?

    OK I have been debating this on some other threads recently. Since WPN Video now has a video on the subject I thought I would post something in WPW:

    » SMX West 2008: Stephan Spencer WebProNews Videos: Videos from WebProNews.com

    It is a simple question. Does PR Sculpting work or not. If so do you have proof of it. Sure conceptually it seems like it would, but I am wondering about those that have tested it out and can prove that it does work. Remember I looking for proof of it working alone, not simultaneously with other changes.

    I have never been a big believer in the concept of PR hoarding. I really don’t believe that adding the nofollow attribute can greatly help you r internal OBLs on the page. The biggest argument against this is that millions of websites rank and will always rank without having to worry about implementing the nofollow attribute, thus why would Google allow this simple trick to give our websites the “golden ticket” of ranking higher by implementing it. I believe they don’t.

    I am also tired of doing things because it is the hot new thing right now and believe some solid data on using the nofollow should be expressed somewhere. Not simply saying “hey Cutt’s said it should work so we should do it” as was recently heard at SMX.

    More on this at Sphinn as well and a more believable thread from one of my favorites Michael Martinez:

    SEO Nonsense - Sculpting PageRank Builds Muscle - SEO Theory - SEO Theory and Analysis Blog

  2. #2
    WebProWorld MVP incrediblehelp's Avatar
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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    Another post on one believes this PR Sculpting would work:

    No Follow Tag | Internal Use of No Follow Tag

  3. #3
    Administrator mike's Avatar
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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    If Cutts says it's a viable concept (and he has) and somebody Like Stephen Spencer says he's used it, tested it, and found a benefit (and he has)... That's pretty much all I need.

    Excerpt from a Rand Fishkin Q&A where this topic is discussed:

    "Does Google recommend the use of nofollow internally as a positive method for controlling the flow of internal link love? A) Yes – webmasters can feel free to use nofollow internally to help tell Googlebot which pages they want to receive link juice from other pages
    _
    (Matt's precise words were: The nofollow attribute is just a mechanism that gives webmasters the ability to modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity. Plenty of other mechanisms would also work (e.g. a link through a page that is robot.txt'ed out), but nofollow on individual links is simpler for some folks to use. 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. By the way, the nofollow meta tag does that same thing, but at a page level.)"
    And a piece of Stephen's reply to Shari Thurow:

    Matt Cutts has publicly condoned the use of PageRank sculpting on repeated occasions. Google has even used the technique on their own properties.

    So my question to Shari is: "Have you ever conducted any testing of the PageRank sculpting technique?" We at Netconcepts have, and it works.

    According to our tests, there are plenty of occasions where it can be a valuable tool, if used wisely. For example, if you have an ecommerce site and the category pages contain 3 links to every single product page -- the product name as a text link, the product image thumbnail as an image link, and the words "View Product" as a text link -- you could nofollow the image and "View Product" links and funnel more PageRank through the much more contextually-relevant product-name-based text links.

    "I am always a fan of giving people more flexibility and more tools," Matt said in reference to giving "more flexibility to site owners to sculpt how they want to flow PageRank or to change how the page should be indexed" (quotes from my interview with him at PubCon, published on stephanspencer.com).

    So if Shari wrote this piece without any testing, it's just unsubstantiated opinion -- and I wholeheartedly disagree with it.
    We did a video about the subject with Stephen essentially explaining and endorsing the concept. I have no reservations about the concept based on the credentials of the folks who are endorsing it. Not just Matt and Stephen... I've also heard from Rand, Michael Gray and several other folks who I have no problem considering authorities.

    Nobody's saying you have to use it... nobody's saying you have to necessarily agree with it. But it is a concept that many professionals in this field - who I feel are very knowledgeable and authoritative - have more or less signed off on.

    Like most any other SEO tactic, some people will use it, some won't. There are so many pieces of the puzzle in SEO that hardly any one single tactic, tip, or trick is going to make or break any SEO campaign.

    Back in school, I'd say you were disputing the concept on the basis that an appeal to authority argument is one of the classic fallacies. ie:

    Bob says blue widgets are great.
    Bob is a superhero rockstar that everybody loves.
    Blue widgets must be great.

    Appeal to authority fallacy ( I liked logic class).


    However... authority is generally just dandy for propositional and procedural concepts (like SEO for the most part). If Michael Jordan says:
    "This is the best way to shoot a free throw" I am thinking, I can probably trust that shooting free throws like that is generally a pretty good idea.

  4. #4
    WebProWorld MVP incrediblehelp's Avatar
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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    Michael because people use it does that prove it works??

    First off on the topic of Matt and Rand's conversation I will simple quote Michael Martinez comments as he says it better than I ever could on that Q and A thread:

    I think Matt is clearly encouraging the SEO community to play with PageRank sculpting, knowing fully well they can’t do it properly.

    But what do you think of Matt’s followup to Rand on SEOmoz itself, where Rand went way over the top with his interpretation of Matt’s interview answers?


    What do you think of Rand’s own admissions that he screwed up the indexing of more than one site when he tried to implement his own advice?


    What do you think of the idea of people not just saying, “Hey! Wow! Great post!” but instead actually TESTING the ideas that are thrown out on SEO blogs before saying anything?


    Stopping to test could keep a lot of people from making embarrassing remarks and commitments to clients and employers.
    In Stephen's example above are we to believe that this implementation of the nofollow attribute on the image and product view links was done by itself with no other SEO changes? This would be helpful in understanding if the doing this technique actually helped the ranking of the product pages. If so did the product pages then go up in rankings substantially? This would be nice to know.

    We need to stop jumping on the bandwagon of SEO techniques so quickly without properly testing this stuff out. Just because conceptually something seems like this should work doesn't mean that it does.

    I am asking a simple question. Is this a stand alone technique that can benefit your website? I really have yet to see proof of it, rather just speak of how cool of tool it is.

  5. #5
    WebProWorld MVP crankydave's Avatar
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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    You and I have had a couple of conversations about this Jaan. While I have "experimented" with internal nofollow I can't say that I have any definitive "proof" to offer short of my observations and opinions. Based upon those, I've personally chosen not to use them.

    I really think that the biggest mistake that gets made when implementing the nofollow internally is that the focus gets put on where to NOT flow PR rather than where, and just as importanly, how to send it. Blocking pages can actually do you more harm than good IMO. An important thing to remember is that every time you block a page using the nofollow you're also lessening the value of all the links that are on the blocked page.

    Another thing is that seems to get overlooked is that PR is strictly a Google thing yet the nofollow affects what the other SE's see and do as well. While trying to "sculpt" for Google you can easily negatively affect a site or page with regards to the other SE's.

    Personally, I'd rather focus on doing a better job of targeting pages internally, not by restricting access or flow, but by improving the way in which it does flow. Using pages which may not neccessarily be most useful until a visitor actually reaches the site to their benefit and my advantage.

    ETA... It is just another tool available and it's not using it that *can* create problems, it's how.

    Dave

  6. #6
    WebProWorld MVP incrediblehelp's Avatar
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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    Quote Originally Posted by crankydave View Post
    ETA... It is just another tool available and it's not using it that *can* create problems, it's how.
    I agree Dave and I am in now say saying that using the nofollow is a bad thing. Like Mike said to each his own and you can choose to use it or not. I just wanted to start this discussions on to go over the so-called benefits of the no follow. Mike has pointed out lots of industry experts have said hey this is a good thing. We should use it. Just would like to see more in-action proof of its value that is all.

  7. #7
    WebProWorld MVP crankydave's Avatar
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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    I just want to touch on something Mike quoted...

    According to our tests, there are plenty of occasions where it can be a valuable tool, if used wisely. For example, if you have an ecommerce site and the category pages contain 3 links to every single product page -- the product name as a text link, the product image thumbnail as an image link, and the words "View Product" as a text link -- you could nofollow the image and "View Product" links and funnel more PageRank through the much more contextually-relevant product-name-based text links.
    What if user behavior is a metric? What if visitors to a site follow the image link far more times than the contexual one? Could adding nofollow to the thumbnail acually cause the target page not to receive as much "benefit" as it might otherwise?

    I'm certainly not questioning the results, merely asking what if?

    Dave

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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    Quote Originally Posted by crankydave View Post
    I just want to touch on something Mike quoted...



    What if user behavior is a metric? What if visitors to a site follow the image link far more times than the contexual one? Could adding nofollow to the thumbnail acually cause the target page not to receive as much "benefit" as it might otherwise?

    I'm certainly not questioning the results, merely asking what if?

    Dave
    I am not sure I follow you Dave. Are you asking if Google considers user behavior a metric on their ranking algorithm? Can you clarify a bit?

  9. #9
    WebProWorld MVP incrediblehelp's Avatar
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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    Quote Originally Posted by crankydave View Post
    Could adding nofollow to the thumbnail acually cause the target page not to receive as much "benefit" as it might otherwise?
    Right that is my question, does it work? I have yet to see that just adding the nofollow substantially adds value to those other pages that you want to rank.

    I have tested it on my blog and have seen little value in doing so.

  10. #10
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    Re: Does PR Sculpting Work?

    I am about to do some testing of my own on another site I am working on. I will let you know what my results are when it has had time to propagate.

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