Page Rank Sculpting Using “Nofollow” – Is It An Anamoly In Google’s Own Policy ?

by Rahul Kumar on 08/04/09 at 1:47 pm

Page Rank Sculpting Using “Nofollow” – Is It An Anamoly In Google’s Own Policy ?

If you have been around in the SEO community for a while, I am pretty sure this is a term you have been aware of.  For those who are beginners, Page Rank Sculpting is based on the use of “nofollow” tags on internal links and trying to control the way Page Rank aka “link juice” is distributed among within the site. What it does is basically empower the webmaster to define which page or link gets what strength and from where. For a better understanding of Page Rank Sculpting , please read Page Rank Sculpting – When And Why To Use first.

Now lets look closer at “Cloaking”, a very well known Black Hat SEO technique which is banned by google and other search engines as well.

How Google defines cloaking in its webmaster is as  “Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. Serving up different results based on user agent may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index”…

Did you read that carefully?? I sure hope you did.

Answer this then : Does not Page Rank Sculpting using “NOFOLLOW” come very close in premise to “CLOAKING” ?

Well, I am sure google has its best intentions in defining the “Nofollow” tag as it will definitely increase the quality of the links in its database if used properly. However, as they say, “Every tool can be made a weapon”  and in the same light, “nofollow” does provide the power to actually legitimately use cloaking.

People across the internet have had there own views and ways of explaining what they perceive from this anamoly in google’s policy.

My Understanding : I personally feel that google needs to probably change the definition of “Cloaking” to make it more specific. What we see here is basically the fact that google would consider a website being cloaked if, and only if the content provided to the search engine is not provided to the user as well, and the vice versa not applying. So primarily a set of pages can be made viewable to the search engine from a larger set of pages visible to the users. However the set viewable to the search engines should not be hid from the users and that in my opinion should be termed as “cloaking” in the webmasters documentation.

Why this makes sense : Cheating a search engine would by definition mean serving content to it which is not viewable by the Users of the site. However there can always be content on the website for the users which bears no particular interest from the search engine’s point of view. We already have the robot.txt and other mechanisms for doing the same and “nofollow” will just be another addon to the arsenal.

Though Page Rank Sculpting is a neat little way to squeeze the extra bit in the right direction, I would recommend going for it once your link building campaign has reached a threshold which cannot be breached without significant effort.

Conclusion : Google can always review there webmaster documentation to make it more specific , however I do not see how Page Rank Sculpting using Nofollow tags be considered anywhere close to deception.

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