NoFollow Attribute and Javascript Links: Did the Rules Change?

A recent statement by Matt Cutts at SMX advanced has caused confusion and anger among webmasters regarding the use of nofollow tags for pagerank sculpting

It was previously believed that the use of a nofollow tag on links would prevent the pagerank flow from going to these link and instead preserving it for more important pages on your site.  Well it seems this is no longer the case.

To further confuse the issue, it seems that Google is now indexing links found in Javascript which it previously could not find.

What does this mean in terms of SEO?  well in a nutshell lots of wasted Link Juice flowing down a black hole!  Danny Sullivan explained it the idea of link juice flow perfectly:

“Consider it like this. Imagine authority is money, and a particular page has $10 in “authority” to spend. It links out to 10 pages, so each of those pages gets $1 ($10 divided by 10). If it links to 20 pages, each gets 50 cents ($10 divided by 20). If it links to 5 pages, each page gets $2 (you get the math by now).”

If this issue is not officially clarified by Google and soon, webmasters could unfairly face penalty consequences as a result of losing rankings in the search results and worst yet, the possibility of getting completely banned as a result of their advertising links found in Javascript tags across the net.


Matt Cutts from Google has officially shed some light on this topic:

On PageRank Sculpting

So what happens when you have a page with “ten PageRank points” and ten outgoing links, and five of those links are nofollowed? Let’s leave aside the decay factor to focus on the core part of the question. Originally, the five links without nofollow would have flowed two points of PageRank each (in essence, the nofollowed links didn’t count toward the denominator when dividing PageRank by the outdegree of the page). More than a year ago, Google changed how the PageRank flows so that the five links without nofollow would flow one point of PageRank each.

Thanks Matt!

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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