The Art of Google PageRank Sculpting & Five Sculpting Tips

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Michael Gray delivered an excellent presentation as part of the Bot Herding panel at SMX Advanced 2008. His discussion focused on the topic of PageRank sculpting, and more specifically – how important it should be on your list of priorities as an SEO.

Agreeing with much of Michael Gray‘s thoughts on the topic may make my stance a bit watered down. I’m confident though that the underlying message of his panel bears repeating for those unable to attend.

A Question of Available Resources
To get us started on the topic of Google PageRank Sculpting, let’s ask ourselves one question… Is PageRank Sculpting something I should invest my time in?

If you have nothing better to do and a lot of free time to invest, I would say that PageRank sculpting is a wonderful idea. The problem for many optimizers though is that there are plenty of other things to deal with that tend to become more important or relevant to success.

Michael Gray got a rise from the audience when he asked the question:

Why don’t people air condition their mailboxes?

When the laughs died down a bit, the message began to resonate. I hope it got other folks in the audience thinking the same way it did for me.

Gray’s response to his own question was powerful.

“You don’t (air condition your mailbox) because unless you have money to throw away, it’s not a good use of your available resources”.

I do understand that PageRank sculpting (and similarly, Siloing) should be part of a complete optimization program. For years though we have seen less powerful pages (in terms of PR value) ranking more prominently than their neighbors.

Believing that this is still true I cannot endorse PageRank sculpting as a critical element to any SEO program. For me that simply forces sculpting further down my list of things to do. It is however something that should be done, provided you have the time to invest to do it right.

Five Google PageRank Sculpting Tips
Let’s take a quick look at some of the many tips Michael presented to the audience. Assuming that you do in fact decide to sculpt PageRank, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Spend Time Wisely — Effective PageRank sculpting takes time and efficient planning. Be sure to devise a game plan before jumping in and leaving efforts incomplete. Nothing is worse than leaking PageRank to irrelevant pages.
  2. Sculpt as Early as Possible – Sculpting while a site is being built is easier, and has a more immediate impact as link development takes place. That won’t always be possible, but the earlier you sculpt, the better.
  3. Be Attentive – Sculpting isn’t a process that you can go about casually. You need to invest complete and undivided attention to sculpt to your best abilities. Stay focused!
  4. Sculpt with Multiple Tools – Do not allow yourself to rely on any one medium. Use your robots.txt file, META noindex tags and other measures like javascript when needed to shape your efforts from multiple angles. This will ensure that Google (and other engines operating on similar principals) understand your efforts both completely and immediately.
  5. Sculpt Your Environment – Make sure that you account inbound links and any quirky problems that Google may have with your site. PageRank comes in from multiple sources, so do not assume that sculpting the flow from your homepage is enough to get the job done right.

Google PageRank Sculpting Remains an Art
If there was one takeaway I had from this presentation it was that truly sculpting Google PageRank remains an art.

There is an abundance of preparation that should take place. And, as you become more familiar with your tools and the mediums to work with – you will of course become more proficient and skilled in the art itself.

As is normally the case with any art, the audience’s perception of your work is undetermined. One site may have a benefit for sculpting their About Us pages (think reputation management), whereas most others would not. It’s the task of Google in this instance to sit back and look at the entire composition of work to understand the full story.

If you work at it enough, you develop a reputation as a master artist in the trade of sculpting Google PageRank. If that’s what you aspire to become, have at it. I hope this article gets you started.

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