Internal No-follow vs External No-Follow

Reading a recent article from SEOMoz which talks about PR Sculpting with nofollow links. While the article concludes that PR Sculpting with No-Follow links is still effective, I beg to differ. I also don’t believe the test platform was comprehensive enough to come to any definitive conclusions.

  • Only 50% of the results were in favour of no-follow linking.
  • One set of results declared no-follow as least effective.
  • Four page websites aren’t relevant test platforms IMHO.
  • Where’s the “More Links for PR Sculpting” test?
  • Differences in text on each site will result in differences in rank.

If we give each method a score from 1 to 5 depending on how relatively effective they were, the points score like this:

  • Nofollow – 29 points
  • Consolidation – 24 points
  • iFrame – 23 points
  • Control – 22 points
  • Javascript – 22 points

Statistically there is no definitive trend. The differences seen could be the result of chance. If you roll a five sided dice, you would probably come up with similar numbers and results.

“Control” was most effective twice, and least effective twice. But “javascript” was NEVER least effective, but also never most effective. Whereas “Nofollow” was least effective once, and never second most effective.

In the SEO Guide for 2010 there is a section relevant to this discussion– “PR Sculpting in 2010” – a method which wasn’t tested in the SEOMoz test.

I remember having a conversation with Robert Somerville (AKA Guru Bob) two weeks prior to Google announcing their changed stance on how page-rank flows through no-follow links. I had been operating a number of large silo structured and no-follow pr sculpted sites and I’d began to notice a negative trend resulting from the use of No-Follow links internally.

The effects were nothing short of profound, to the point where removing all no-follow links resulted in massive average ranking increases, and when the web-designer accidentally over-wrote the modified include files, rankings fell out of the sky. During that conversation I’d said something along the lines of “I don’t know why, and I can’t prove it, but no-follow linking doesn’t work anymore”

But a piece of logic seems to be eluding the general conversation about no-follow linking.

Why would internal no-follow links be treated the same way as external no-follow links?

  1. 1. Why would a webmaster even want to use internal no-follow links unless they had user generated content, or they were trying to game the system?
  2. 2. Why would external no-follow links carry zero weight? And why would a website be penalised for external linking (PR Leakage)

The first implies that the internal page is either not trusted by the webmaster, or that the webmaster is trying to engineer search results. If the former, Google would naturally de-value that page, and if the latter, Google would prefer to rank sites based on relevance rather than clever linking structures.

The second would devalue Googles search algorithms significantly, as it revolves around linking. Its back to the old Wikipedia links question (Do wikipedia no-follow links still pass juice?) and its worth raising a new point… twitter links are no-follow, however twitter is having a massive impact on search results. This is massively incongruent!

I speculate that the weight has shifted in favour of external no-follow links, and against internal no-follow links. Further I’m suggesting and that both operate independently of each other to a certain degree.

Also, I believe the SEOMoz test was nothing more than a joke, and does not represent a scientific approach to SEO.

Happy New Year :-)

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