Posted January 12, 2010 2:08 pm by with 10 comments

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Two weeks ago, it looked like Google might have been . . . well, fibbing. Back in June, the search engine announced that they would no longer redistribute “link juice” around nofollowed links, effectively deprecating the practice of PageRank sculpting. But late last month, it looked like the technique was still effective when SEOmoz published some research to that effect.

Not so much, it turns out. Today, Mozzer Danny Dover revisits the tests he used in the original post and shows that the results were, in fact, inconclusive.

The short reason is that the test didn’t include enough data to be statistically significant. He’d have to repeat the test with 168 domains (instead of the 20 he used) to assure that the results were meaningful and not merely a fluke.

Apparently, there’s been some backlash against Danny and SEOmoz for their innaccurate information. Danny didn’t realize his error until Darren Slatten corrected him in the comments two days after the post had gone live. Naturally, it was too late to unring the bell—and a number of people were very upset that SEOmoz would post something misleading or outright wrong.

In his correction post, Danny points out that this is just another example of the power of the Internet. I think it’s good that Danny did more than just update the old post, also publishing a new post to correct the misinformation (and apologize). Two weeks after the correction is fairly quick to reanalyze the data, though it’s possible he could have acted even faster. This is also a microstudy on reputation management and transparency, something we’re a little passionate about around here.

As a reminder, back in August, Matt Cutts told SEOmoz that it’d be okay to keep nofollow links in place, though when building new sites or redesignin old ones, PageRank sculpting shouldn’t be a consideration.

What do you think? Did everyone handle this situation well?

  • Josh Braaten

    I’d say they’re pretty darned successful. They already have 25 thumbs up and over 30 comments, most of which include some sort of praise for being so forth-coming about his mistake. It’s almost as if they took a page right out of Radically Transparent., the best reputation management book I’ve read to date.
    .-= Josh Braaten´s last blog ..7 Examples of Good Web Design Page Layout =-.

    • Donald Pennington

      Well owning up to mistakes is a great way to endear yourself since we all scrwe up sometimes.

    • Donald Pennington


  • The Digital Productivity Blog

    I think while the nofollow “scientific” experiments are interesting, I agree with Google’s recommendation and SEOMoz’s and basic conclusion that the best use of time for a webmaster is to provide quality content.

    For certain terms, I’ve ranked even above simply because Google saw the article posted as being of higher potential use to searchers. That’s without any obsessive SEO tricks other than the basic H1 titles, page titles, etc.
    .-= The Digital Productivity Blog´s last blog ..Google Adds Favicons to Google Webmaster Tools =-.

  • Donny Lyons

    Yeah, it’s all about the content…I’ve been back and forth with this.

    I would start a blog built on PLR articles and so forth and wouldn’t get anywhere. Then when you add quality unique content, rankings and traffic go through the roof!
    .-= Donny Lyons´s last blog ..SEO Basics – Do This Now! =-.

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  • David Walker

    Hey, Google can do no evil 😉

    Content is king, always, no short cuts. Still, there’s something to be said for SEO if done right. I think it’s when its done wrong that we see what we mostly see, and cringe.

    Way to go Danny! We all make mistakes but it’s the noble among us who apologize and seek to correct.
    .-= David Walker´s last blog ..Make Your Blog Count in 2010 =-.

  • Mark Mc

    I like Danny’s data driven approach and his willingness to test the accepted wisdom. He was open about how he contructed the test and therefore people were able to make up their own minds and also to criticise. In this respect no harm was done really. On the other hand, if you are going to list the key issues in search ranking, I am not sure if page rank sculpting would make the first page, so it wouldn’t be an area I would focus on.

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