The nofollow tag, robots.txt and leaking your PageRank
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A nice blend of flavor aye? :p – I get many questions regarding PageRank and how to keep from leaking that valuable substance(*laughs*), as well as how to properly use the nofollow tag. Many don’t realize it but the nofollow tag can be very valuable for use on your own site not just for outbound links. In this article we have an example of a webmaster who saw a HUGE increase in traffic from google after implementing some simple nofollow/robots restrictions.
This article may help you funnel your SE value through to the pages that need the value and stop value from being leaked into hundreds of worthless pages you don’t want ranked.
Until fairly recently the nofollow tag was still being valued in Google(not like a regular link but still had some very little value) – we recently concluded an experiment which proves that Google no longer values the nofollow tag. To prove this we found an obscure keyword, we then took an established website and had bloggers and website owners link to this site using the keywords we specified as well as the nofollow tag attached to the link. We got about 50 links with the nofollow tag, we waited over a month(longer than necessary) and yet no where did this site appear for the selected keywords. The websites linking to the test site ranked but not even on Yahoo or MSN was seen a ranking for our obscure keywords for the test domain. There is no doubt that none of the three currently value any link with the nofollow tag.
Why/when/how should the nofollow tag be used?
The nofollow tag was introduced to a great extent to combat the large blog comment spam issue however its uses are many. Its main idea is to tell search engines “I am not affiliated with this site, I do not trust this page and/or do not want to pass any value to it”
This is very useful for keeping your value from being linked to a bad site or worse to be associated with that bad site which could possibly harm your rankings.
Many webmasters assume that by linking out you leak value/pagerank or whatever, that you will rank higher if you save your value by nofollowing all or most of your outbound links. This is a sad, what if all webmasters began thinking this way… how hard would link building become?Webmasters should not be afraid to link to good resource sites related to their niche.
Link to sites you believe will be beneficial to your visitors even if it is your competition. Sometimes offering your visitors an alternative can be a larger benefit than pretending your the sole provider in your niche and it will lower the chances of them actually leaving your site… yeah I know that sounds strange but it works sometimes.
I can’t prove 100% that this is so but I also believe Google gives more authority to sites which link to other authority sites in the industry, sites who aren’t afraid to link to the experts in their niche… I believe Google somehow attributes this to a good webmaster and somehow gives them authority for it. Again I can’t prove that but alot of evidence seems to support it… either way it is a good idea to share the love.
The biggest way in my opinion to lose link value or what some people mistakenly call PR is by reciprocal link exchanges. Probably the easiest and worst way to leak link value is by reciprocating with un-related, low quality sites. This can hurt your site and you are likely to lose positions randomly over time… the days of link exchanging for rankings are gone… Only reciprocate with sites who give you a link on a content page and which are relevant, others will greatly dis valued.
The second worst way is site-wide links. These draw value from all your pages and are not a good idea… I would nofollow all sitedwide links or give the webmaster only one link. Sitewide links are also disvalued, I believe how many pages the link is on may play a big role but just the fact that it is a site-wide link seems to be grounds for disvaluing.
Many people don’t realize you can even lose value through bad link management of in-side links, yes links on your site pointed at other pages on your site. Scripts such as forums, blogs, content management systems and others can cause link value to be carried to multiple versions of a page(duplicate content) and can cause you to rank lower than you normally would.
For forums I highly recommend using a sub-domain instead of a sub-folder… this acts as a separate domain and hence will not effect the rest of your site like it would if you installed the forums in a sub-folder. Make sure you remove session ids, 301 duplicate pages, mod re-write the urls to static and of course 301 those dynamic urls to the static versions. This will help your forums posts to rank for the topics being discussed, give more value to each page and make it easier for users to return to a specific topic.
Also with forums you should use the robots.txt file to tell the robots to stay out of the members profiles, members list, register and login pages. This saves value from being passed to pages which do not need it… also try and install a plugin which nofollows all urls in signatures and posts of users under a certain number of posts, say 50. That way you reward members for their support of your community yet don’t give link value to spammers.
Increase Google traffic by 1400%…
Many know Jeremy Shoemaker a.k.a ShoeMoney. He was advised this year by Aaron Wall of SeoBook to nofollow certain pages on his site, surprising to some his rankings increased greatly and of course so did his traffic. Jeremy claimed his traffic from Google increased 1400% which is quite hard to beat – If you want to see what he put in his robots here it is:
Based on simple robots exclusions I have used in the past I know it works and I know it can have absurd positive effects on your rankings… if your serious about taking out your competition you will want to check this out, implement nofollows and robots exclusions on your site where appropriate.
I have worked with exclusions and nofollows quite a bit lately so if you have questions or need help with your site to make sure you are not leaking value send me a comment and I will help you out.
That covers the basics of using nofollows, leaking PR and the like. If I failed to explain something just scream it out and I will try and update the article…
If you have further questions regarding this topic or would like a specific question addressed in our next article just make a comment to this article or send me an email.
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