Link nofollow changes

June 2009 is the month for cat out of the bag with use of rel=nofollow on page links. Link nofollow changes were made over a year ago in the algo, but not specifically talked about till now by Google.

Matt Cutts talked at SMX advanced, and had a number of interviews where he specifically talked about how Google assigns Google PR when it encounters rel=nofollows.

Is what is Good for Google, good for SEO?

Matt: ... If you have 10 links and 5 are nofollow, there is this assumption that the other 5 get page rank. That might have been partially true at one time, but that’s less effective these days.


Q Danny Sullivan: So there’s 10 links on home page, 5 pages Nofollowed, where is that link juice going?

Matt: You can think of it as evaporating.


Matt: Initially if you had 10 links, and 5 were no followed, the other 5 would get the remaining page rank, it’s not that way these days. It bubbled up from the indexing team and it could change in the future. Whenever we see people talking about that, it is a good chance to steer the in the right direction.


So should you continue to use nofollows on your website? Personally I don't like the idea of any Google PR being wasted. So what other means are there of stopping Google from assigning PR from a link?

Danny: You guys have click-change, that now you are actually reading javascript, but you said “if you have paid links, you can use javascript and your good”, now you’re not good?

Matt: As Googlebot got smarter we started changing our advice on this. What we haven’t mentioned is that elsewhere, even on the onclick, you can put a rel=nofollow on a link within javascript, you can do that if you want to be completely safe, I expect to see those stay safe.


So with Google even following Javascript links, and assigning Google PR based on them, not even that method is appropriate.

Conclusion

  • Don't use rel=nofollow on internal links within your website since you might as well get Google PR to that page, and then from that page recirculated to the rest of your website
  • Make sure that there is only one url per physical page. If you use nofollow to stop Google following other url's that reference the same page, you are better to use the canonical method on that target page (to tell Google what the proper url for that page is).
  • If you want to have a website address listed on your site, but are concerned about Google considering it paid, use nofollow
  • If you don't like the idea of links on a page, just use the text - ie www.website.co.nz rather than an actual link. Then people can decide to go to that link by their copying into the browser, but no PR will be lost. I consider that this is the new form of nofollow, especially for blogs that would otherwise use nofollows.


I have yet to remove the nofollows on this website, now on the todo list. There is no harm in continuing to use them, just lost opportunity.