Posted June 5, 2008 8:05 pm by with 21 comments

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PageRank (PR) sculpting has popped onto the radar of most online marketers over the last few months and it has become a controversial topic. Like with so many new techniques in the online marketing world, some talented internet marketers are touting the value and success that they are having by using the nofollow tag to sculpt their PageRank, by directing as much link value to their most important pages as possible.

Adam Audette has written a well conceived article outlining why online marketers need to step back and think carefully about whether or not trying this new technique is the right thing to do. I think the majority of the points Adam makes are extremely valid, especially the point that if a marketer feels the need to use this technique excessively then there are probably much larger underlying problems, especially with the sites architecture.

A brief summary of Adam’s 8 points:

1. Marketers don’t know how much PR a page and or link has to begin with, a marketer never really knows if the changes that are being made are of real value or not.

2. The opportunity cost of spending time sculpting PR is a distraction from performing potentially more valuable tasks and may be masking other larger issues.

3. PR sculpting for large sites could become a management issue when many different developers are working with the same documents, potential over writes etc.

4. PR sculpting may be a band aid for larger site architecture issues.

5. It can create a negative user experience, especially if large authority sites use it to push pages with mediocre to poor user experience into positions of prominence.

6. PR Sculpting presents potential abuse problems and opens potential future risks to sites that use the nofollow tag excessively.

7. Internet marketers often focus too much on search engines and not enough on their users. This is nearly the same point as number five but approached from the point of why are we doing it instead of what the effect might be.

8. There is no standard of how the nofollow tag works from engine to engine and it is known Yahoo and Google handle these tags differently. Though they are working to try and standardize the way they work with these types of tags, they aren’t there yet.

Adam has clearly spent a lot of time and effort creating a genuinely thought provoking article full of excellent research, quotes, and examples. I am not sure any of the points made are enough to convince talented internet marketers to reconsider the use of this technique as it does appear to be working and often times extremely well. However it will convince even those using the technique to step back and evaluate further how best to implement it not only for search engine rankings but for users as well.

Hopefully the article will also educate marketers, unfamiliar with the technique, to the potential pit falls associated with using a new technique like this and that knowledge can then allow them to make the proper risk reward decision.

  • Adam makes awesome points across the board. I really have not seen a better post on the PR Sculpting than this one.

    Jaan Kanellis’s last blog post..Who Is The Best Looking Man of SEO?

  • It’s like plastic surgery. A small amount can enhance, but you can go too far with disastrous results. 😉

  • Adam made good points about this at SMX Advance. I think he got quite a few people thinking.

    Utah SEO’s last blog post..Top 3 Unsung SEO Heroes of 2008

  • Some good points made about the new practice of page rank sculpting. It seems to me that spending a great deal of time on PR sculpting could backfire later on when the parameters are changed. Better time would be spent working on the content of one’s website.

  • Awesome points from Adam. And this point is great for me:

    > Internet marketers often focus too much on search engines and not enough on their users

  • I think what you are calling PR sculpting… it is quit normal approach for the sharp SEMs.

  • Anyway, search engines are the biggest source of traffic these days.

    Symbian’s last blog post..Nokia S60 Symbian Windows Live client available in Europe

  • PR sculpting does seem to be a slight aberration from what G and others intended for it to be, but so goes the nature of the web. It does make sense, in that your exerting control over your site in terms of what you sections you feel are more important.

    Top Rated’s last blog post..The Very Best Digital SLR Cameras

  • PR for me is an Indicator that arises as a result of my link development aimed to improve SERPs. I never try to increase PR itself.

    seo guy’s last blog post..Discovering your next niche

  • These are some great points to consider before sculpting sites. I’d just recommend following a keep it simple policy and only work with a few links in your site wide navigation. Then again, huge sites could see significant increases by not keeping it simple.

  • Great post and good ideas. For small bloggers like me, it hardly makes any difference. It is nice to have good PR but it is not end all!

  • This is truly the preserve of the big boys! It is generally accepted that modest outlinking to relevant sites of good PR is worth more than hoarding.

  • I don’t agree with adam. Of course it is a moving target, but everything in SEO is moving. You should not overuse it, but it can have positive impact.

  • I’m not an SEO expert but if my site depends highly on organic traffic then I’d make sure I get a high pagerank so I make it to the first page. I’ll do page sculpting if I must.

  • I agree that there are some definite opportunity costs to PR Building. I am a proponent of creating new content that is worthwhile and this usually creates incoming links, which in turn builds PR.

    I find this to be a better option because in the process you have also created more content for your site.

    Zinni’s last blog post..Establishing Criteria for Good Internship Experiences

  • I have been using this for awhile now. Not a large amount, just things like nofollowing links to “contact us” pages, things like that.
    I don’t know if it has helped me, but I am fairly sure it hasn’t done any harm.

    Jeff’s last blog

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