Search Engine Optimization

A Case for Using NoFollow in Your Internal Link Structure

15 Oct , 2008  

A while back I mentioned how much better the web would be if all of us small blog owners banded together in the “dofollow” movement and removed the nofollow attribute from our comments and links to other websites.  The theory I espouse is that major commercial websites (like have enough links coming to them, we don’t need to give them any more; however, smaller blog-style sites need all the help they can get.  So use nofollow links to link out to the big boys and dofollow links to the rest of the unwashed masses.

I still think that’s a good theory and a great way to run your blog, but it doesn’t necessarily work with a decent-sized informational or service website.  If you’ve got anywhere between a couple hundred to a couple hundred thousand pages indexed (or hoping to be indexed) in your website, then you’re going to need to consider a proper internal link structure.  Hopefully this was put into practice when you originally designed the site and mapped out the site architecture.  You did do that, didn’t you?

Well if you didn’t, there’s still hope for you yet.  Randfish at MOZ wrote an excellent article yesterday where he outlined how to use PageRank sculpting via nofollow links to control and focus the link juice that your home page passes to internal pages.  Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you obtained plenty of links to your site’s home page and you picked up a good PageRank of 5.  That PageRank is just a number, don’t let it go to your head – but what it does represent is how important, or authoritative, Google feels your web page is. This does not mean you will rank first for your keywords!  It just means your web page has gained some importance in Google’s determination; it may or may not have the potential to begin ranking well for your keywords depending on your SEO skills.  What it does mean; however, is that you now have a PageRank of 5 which gives you a certain amount of “link juice” or “linking power” or whatever you want to call it.  You can now pass that authority to other pages to make them more important as well.

OK, so your home page has achieved a PageRank of 5.  But wait, you’ve got 5,000 other pages in your site – doesn’t that mean every page is important now?  Nope.  Every single page on your site is going to get it’s own PageRank, and quite often on a site with thousands of pages, they’ll have none.  So how do they get some?

There are two methods to funnel PageRank to internal pages on a large site:

  • By creating direct external links to them, or
  • By passing your own PageRank from your home page to internal pages.

If it took you 3 months to get a substantial number of backlinks to your home page, imagine how long it will take you to get several links to each of your 5,000 internal pages?  Sure, you can hire an SEO firm (please do!), or you can start funnelling your home page’s PageRank to your internal pages.

In Rand’s example, he shows how you can limit and focus the amount of the link authority you pass to internal pages via nofollow links.  Let’s say your home page has 40 links on it – half go to your site’s category landing pages, and the other half go to links such as Member Login, Terms Of Service, Privacy Policy, etc.  If you’ve only got 5 PageRank points to pass on to other pages, why waste half of that authority on pages you probably don’t want indexed in Google anyway?  Use nofollow tags on ancillary links such as your Privacy Policy and external links, and just link normally to your site’s category landing pages.

This technique will help you to pass PageRank to your internal pages where you want it most.  Now the only thing left to do is start ranking those pages for your target keywords

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5 Responses

  1. I believe that deep linking is very important for passing pagerank to ALL of your internal pages.

  2. Barry Wise says:

    @aniroy1986 You’re on the right track … you’re making a comment on a “dofollow” blog :)

  3. Agreed with the theory that pages like login, policy and other similar kind actually does not need to come up in search engine results so practically they don’t need PR too. It will be better if you distribute the PR of home page to other important pages that need search engine attention.

  4. David Jenyns says:

    These days, I don’t really worry about ‘no follow’ that much. Well, the way I do page rank sculpting is to simply link to the pages I want ranked – I use my internal linking structure properly (just like what you have mentioned in your post) for this purpose and link to those pages, I want to rank, more.

    I think that the only purpose I have for ‘no follow’ at present is about one’s page reputation. That is why today I quit worrying and using ‘no follow’ for page sculpting purpose! I guess since times have changed then we just have to keep ourselves in the loop with these updates on how the Big G views linking structures so we can adjust our linking strategies accordingly.


  5. Haha! Imagine if this ACTUALLY happened! I’d love to see the faces of the execs who budgeted hundreds of thousands to only find smaller companies ranking above them!

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