SEO Tip #32: What are your views on PageRank sculpting?

Matt Cutts: Well I wouldn’t say it’s unethical, because it’s stuff on your website you’re allowed to control how PageRank flows around within your site.

I would say that it’s not the first thing that I would work on. I would work on getting more links, having higher quality content, those are always the sorts of things that you want to do first. But then if you have a certain amount of budgeted PageRank you can certainly sculpt your PageRank.

I wouldn’t necessarily do it with a NOFOLLOW tag, although you can put a NOFOLLOW on a log in page, or something that it customized, where a robot will never log in, for example. But a better more effective form of PageRank sculpting is choosing for example which things to link to from your homepage.

So imagine you’ve got two different pages; you have one product page that earns you a lot of money every time someone buys, and you have another product page where you make ten cents. You probably want to highlight this page. You want to make sure that it gets enough PageRank that it can rank well, so this is more likely to be a page that you want to link to from your homepage.

So when people talk about PageRank sculpting they tend to think NOFOLLOW and all that sorts of stuff. But in some sense, the ways you choose to create your site architecture, and how you link between your pages is a type of PageRank sculpting.

So it’s certainly not unethical to have all the links come into your site and then you decide how to link within your site and how to make the pages within your site. I do think that having more links because you have great content is a better way to rank well because it’s a second order effect to be sculpting your PageRank. It can be useful but it wouldn’t be the first thing that I would do.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.