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PageRank Sculpting: Am I a Believer?

Posted By Rick Egan On July 29, 2009 @ 8:00 am In SEO | Comments Disabled

In the world of SEO, it often seems SEO’s are constantly chasing the next big thing to exploit.  What it seems like to me is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The most recent flavor of the month from the most recent SMX Advanced conference was PageRank sculpting.  Thank you Mr. Cutts for once again providing great fodder for us bloggers.  PageRank sculpting has been around for a long time, it has just been called many different things based on the time period and who was talking.  It is has been referred to as link consolidation, page rank sculpting, siloing, etc.  In reality, it’s always been about how a web site owner can control a user’s attention to their pages and by users I mean both humans and search engines and what we need to remember sometimes is that the first solution is still the best solution. No Following has always been a secondary option because it defeats the first cardinal rule of SEO: “Don’t leave in the search engines’ hands what you have control over.”  Despite the agreement that the engines made, it has been obvious since the very beginning that Yahoo was following no follow links.  Since Google has always made its own rules and often changes their mind depending on the day of the week, there was no reason to think that they wouldn’t follow ‘no follows’, count ‘no follow’ links, and reduce or apply link credit when they felt that their opinion of a web page link is more valid than the content creator’s explicit instruction. If you do decide to Silo, PageRank Sculpt, etc. the best method for hiding links is still JavaScripting of links.  You do need
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to be careful though how you code your HREF’s since search engines are directly reading code these days.  There are endless sets of source code available to make this easy.
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  A great example is code is the code that has been used for the last 15 years to obscure ‘mailto’ links from spam mail harvesters and can be used to make specific links invisible to spiders.  The issues to consider with this solution are level of effort for implementation and useability for those surfing with javascript disabled.  This usually ranges between 1% and 4% depending on the source.  If a company is demanding that 100% of users be supported, then the developers have much more to worry about trying to support Netscape 4.0 than they do trying to support users with JavaScript turned off. All that aside, if the ‘sculpting’ is done effectively, the lost functionality of 1% - 4% of users is minimal anyway.  An example of how this can work on a car site would be for someone who was on a Ford Mustang page; the links to the Home page, the Ford page, the Chevy page, the Ford Mustang GT page would all work. But for 1% - 4% of the users, the links from the Ford Mustang page to the Chevy Corvette page would not.  Is that acceptable breakage?  I would hope so.  If the breakage is not acceptable, then you can create some real dev pain and have them subscribe to Fantomaster SpiderSpy, do IP checking and feed normal links to the fraction of users with JavaScript disabled who’s IP addresses aren’t in the SpiderSpy database list. The main things to remember are that you control your content and you are trying to provide the best user experience for all types of users (humans and search engines).  If you have great content and present it in a logical fashion that shows your expertise along a given subject matter then you will be rewarded.  Tricks can get you traffic and rankings but if the content and user experience suck then any amount of Siloing or PageRank Sculpting won’t help anyway.
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