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Around Xmas I had a bit of time on my hands, so I decided to catch up on my SEO skills. Upon doing so I stumbled accross an interview with Matt Cutts where he says that using the nofollow tag is now an official and "legal" way to channel Pagerank within a site. Yay! Still made me nervous, so I did a bit of extra research on my favorite webmaster site ( [webmasterworld.com...] ) just to make sure that, by nofollowing the external links in the directory, I'm not essentially presenting Google an empty page. All seemed good, so I went to work:
- I equipped the vast majority of the external links in my directory with "nofollow" tags.
- At the same time, I also changed those links from direct links to redirects (theothersite(dot)com -> myownsite(dot)com?linkID=1234).
Result: Only three months later, all my directory pages have been "rewarded" with a PR0.
Now I feel (and probably look) stupid. Even after the fact, I have no idea what I did wrong. And I don't feel guilty either (although I would like to, because then at least I'd know something I don't know right now).
From my analysis, changing the links to redirects can't be the issue. Remember that all those links are also *nofollowed* so Google shouldn't care where the links are pointing to (they're ignoring them, right?).
So my only conclusion is that putting the nofollow tags up made Google believe I'm running a spammy, free-to-add collection of link pages with links I don't trust, but nothing else. Which is cool as long as they say that nofollow should only be used to mark the spammy links you don't trust. Which they don't anymore.
So in the end, I am just very confused I guess.
[edited by: tedster at 3:52 pm (utc) on April 2, 2008]
[edit reason] fix link [/edit]
Do you read this differently?
I just ignore Toolbar PR in these cases and occasionally curse at Google's handling of the whole nofollow and paid links thing. Just be sure you didn't accidentally add nofollow to your internal links ;)
As for how to get PR to go up - it just takes more good backlinks.
Other indicators: I'm not someone who makes radical changes to the site every other week, and then barks up the next best tree for any change in Google SERPs or PR. When I change up my strategy for the first time in years, and then something like this happens, then it sticks out to me though.
I've also seen Google's inexplicable PR0 pages on some of my other sites (usually on fringe pages), but here we're talking about an entire site. To me that smells differently.
Alright I'm not trying to convince you. ;) The reason I'm putting up so much resistance is because I'm trying to get a couple more arguments out of you. If I can't then I'll probably change the site back to the original state, minus one page for testing purposes.
Thanks for your feedback - much appreciated!