I saw a discussion on Facebook about manipulating website linking patterns to focus PageRank to important pages. The idea was that linking to “useless” pages is a waste of PageRank and a diminution of a website’s ranking power.
SEO 101 – Site Architecture
One of the most fundamental understandings about how to create a website is creating a meaningful site architecture. That means creating a menu and site structure that makes it easy for a site visitor to reach all the important pages of a website.
That’s newbie level SEO but it’s a goodie.
The strategy of stopping PageRank from flowing to “useless pages” is called PageRank Sculpting.
My understanding about PageRank sculpting is that this is something people were talking about in the SEO forums in the mid-2000’s and later popularized on the Moz website to the wider world.
In 2009 Google engineer Matt Cutts said that Google uses nofollowed links as part of the calculation of how much PageRank to send to other pages.
So if a page has ten links and one is nofollowed, the flow of PageRank to the nine normal links is as if there are ten links on the page, regardless if one of those links is nofollowed.
what that means is that there is no benefit to PageRank sculpting by using the nofollow link for that practice.
Cloaking Links Method
Another method to achieve the PageRank sculpting goal is to hide the links from Google. That means showing one page to Google and another page to users.
That’s called cloaking and it can and maybe not lead to problems. What makes cloaking bad, according Google’s Martin Splitt, is the underlying result of deceiving a site visitor who clicks through from Google.
Under that definition then cloaking for PR sculpting isn’t spam.
But… My opinion is I would hesitate to roll the dice on the rankings of a well ranking site by splitting hairs about what a Googler said
Nobody can really say at what point they crossed the line until the line was crossed and the site is banned for crossing over it.
And of course there is always that one person who will pop up to say they did the same thing and got away with it.
I get it that it’s good to squeeze maximum performance from a site. But good site architecture, SEO 101, will get your players down the field and within scoring distance to the goal.
From there it’s up to your web pages to score the goal.
It’s not the job of the goalkeeper or the home page to score the goal.
It’s good to link to about us pages. It’s good to link to contact us page (if you have one).
It doesn’t matter if PageRank flows to those pages because it’s up to the individual web pages to rank. It’s not the responsibility of the home page to trickle down PageRank to make inner pages rank.
We used to be able to SEE how much PageRank flows from page to page with Google’s toolbar, so maybe it’s easier for someone like myself to visualize or conceptualize it? It basically just starts at the home page then steps down one point from link to link through the site (on the general scale shown to us by Google).
Except for inner pages that attain links.
The inner pages that attain links have higher PageRank than other pages.
But the idea of the home page being the mother of the all the web pages beneath it, with all the sub-pages sucking on it’s PageRank teat for PageRank nourishment is outdated.
Every web page that matters should attract links from outside the site and stand on its own two feet like a grown up who leaves their parents home and feeds themselves.
Every page that matters will feed itself and stand on its own.
The idea that every page is dependent on the home page for links is outdated.
It comes from the idea that links should point to the home page and trickle down to the inner pages. That doesn’t work anymore.
Worrying about how much PageRank flows to your contact page is like ripping out the back seats of your car in order to make it lighter and save five cents a mile on gas.
The whole idea about manipulating PageRank was settled eleven years ago in 2009.
What should sink in, what’s most important, is that Web pages that tend to attract links are the web pages that rank.
Worrying about how PageRank is flowing is a waste of time that could be better spend creating or promoting web pages.
Matt Cutts put a fork in the idea of manipulating PageRank in 2009. Nobody should be jumping up and down about the idea as if it’s something new in 2020.