What is PageRank Sculpting?

PageRank-Sculpting is the idea that a website’s existing PageRank, or link juice, can be redirected to more important subpages, whilst purely functional pages, such as the ‘about us’ page, can be excluded.

The principle of PageRank and Link Juice

The term PageRank derives from the name of its author, Larry Page, one of the two founders of the Google search engine. PageRank describes a method of evaluating how websites can pass on trust to other websites via backlinks. Since trust is transmitted via links, the term link juice has become common.

Websites that Google trusts can pass on this trust to other subpages and domains through the links that they set, both internally and externally. This is the approach that Google took at the turn of the millennium to shake up the search engine market.

What is PageRank Sculpting?

PageRank Sculpting uses two search engine systems in combination. These are the PageRank algorithm on the one hand and the nofollow attribute on the other.

When calculating the PageRank, each page passes on a part of the trust that it has gained through external and internal links via each link. If I have five links on a subpage, then each link passes on 1/5 of the page’s trust (minus a damping factor).

Since 2005, there has been the nofollow attribute, which can be tacked onto a link so that, simply put, it no longer passes on trust for Google.

With PageRank Sculpting, webmasters could completely remove links from the PageRank calculation at the beginning. This meant that a page with five links, one of which was set to nofollow, only had four links for Google through which the link juice was passed on.

This led to webmasters applying nofollow to internal links in order to remove pages that were perceived as being unimportant, such as the imprint, from the calculation.

This went well for a while, but in 2009 Matt Cutts announced a change in the rules of the game as far as PageRank Sculpting was concerned. In the internal page structure, nofollow links should now also receive link juice. Since then, the original concept no longer works.

Do I have to worry about PageRank Sculpting?

No. It makes sense to deal with the internal linking on your own page and there are certainly links that should be marked with a nofollow, but both in combination, as with PageRank-Sculpting, is a waste of time.

Steve Paine
17.03.2021