The biggest problem that most people have when trying to learn anything to do with driving more traffic to their website or boosting their visibility across a variety of online mediums, is that they try to do the least amount of work for the greatest return. They cut corners and they take shortcuts. Because of that, they fail. Today, if you're serious about marketing anything on the web, you have to gain Google's trust.
Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
In the past, the PageRank shown in the Toolbar was easily manipulated. Redirection from one page to another, either via a HTTP 302 response or a "Refresh" meta tag, caused the source page to acquire the PageRank of the destination page. Hence, a new page with PR 0 and no incoming links could have acquired PR 10 by redirecting to the Google home page. This spoofing technique was a known vulnerability. Spoofing can generally be detected by performing a Google search for a source URL; if the URL of an entirely different site is displayed in the results, the latter URL may represent the destination of a redirection.
Is very telling and an important thing to consider. Taking the model of a university paper on a particular subject as an example, you would expect the paper to cite (link to) other respected papers in the same field in order to demonstrate that it is couched in some authority. As PageRank is based on the citation model used in university work, it makes perfect sense to incorporate a “pages linked to” factor into the equation.
In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "Backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[21] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random web surfer.

Search results are presented in an ordered list, and the higher up on that list a site can get, the more traffic the site will tend to receive. For example, for a typical search query, the number one result will receive 40-60% of the total traffic for that query, with the number two and three results receiving significantly less traffic. Only 2-3% of users click beyond the first page of search results.
I am not worried by this; I do agree with Danny Sullivan (Great comment Danny, best comment I have read in a long time). I will not be changing much on my site re: linking but it is interesting too see that Google took over a year to tell us regarding the change, but was really happy to tell us about rel=”nofollow” in the first place and advised us all to use it.
By utilizing SEM, it provides you with a great avenue for getting the word out quickly and effectively. If you have the budget, then marketing on search engines for competitive keywords might be the right fit for you. But be prepared to pony up. Keywords can range anywhere from a few cents to upwards of $50 and more. The quality score for any term is reflective of what you can expect to pay for bidding on that keyword. The lower the competition, the lower the quality score and the lower the price.
“There may be a miniscule number of pages (such as links to a shopping cart or to a login page) that I might add nofollow on, just because those pages are different for every user and they aren’t that helpful to show up in search engines” – it doesn`t make much sense. If a page isn`t helpful and should not show up on search results, the best option is to meta-noindex the page and disallow it on robots.txt.
This is also about expectations. Anyone that tries to sell you a get-rich-quick scheme is selling you short. There is no such thing. You have to put in the time and do the work, adding enormous amounts of value along the way. That's the truth of the matter and that's precisely what it takes. Once you understand that it's all about delivering sincere value, you need to understand where the money comes from.
Muratos – I’ve never nofollowed Amazon affiliate links on the theory that search engines probably recognize them for what they are anyway. I have a blog, though, that gets organic traffic from those Amazon products simply because people are looking for “Copenhagen ring DVD” and I hard-code the product names, musicians’ names, etc. on the page rather than use Amazon’s sexier links in iframes, etc.

So, for example, a short-tail keyphrase might be “Logo design”. Putting that into Google will get you an awful lot of hits. There’s a lot of competition for that phrase, and it’s not particularly useful for your business, either. There are no buying signals in the phrase – so many people will use this phrase to learn about logo design or to examine other aspects of logo design work.
“An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource but is not an express link to the target resource,” Google said in its patent filing. “Thus, a resource in the group can be the target of an implied link without a user being able to navigate to the resource by following the implied link.”
Content is king. Your content needs to be written so that it provides value to your audience. It should be a mix of long and short posts on your blog or website. You should not try to “keyphrase stuff” (mentioning a keyphrase over and over again to try and attract search engines) as this gets penalized by search engines now. However, your text should contain the most important keyphrases at least once and ideally two to three times—ideally, it should appear in your title. However, readability and value are much more important than keyword positioning today.
A decent article which encourages discussion and healthy debate. Reading some of the comments I see it also highlights some of the misunderstandings some people (including some SEOs) have of Google PageRank. Toolbar PageRank is not the same thing as PageRank. The little green bar (Toolbar PageRank) was never a very accurate metric and told you very little about the value of any particular web page. It may have been officially killed off earlier this year, but the truth is its been dead for many years. Real PageRank on the other hand, is at the core of Google’s algorithm and remains very important.
Thanks a lot for all of those great tips you handed out here. I immediately went to work applying the strategies that you mentioned. I will keep you posted on my results. I have been offering free SEO services to all of my small business bookkeeping clients as a way of helping them to grow their businesses. Many of them just don’t have the resources required to hire an SEO guru to help them but they need SEO bad. I appreciate the fact that you share your knowledge and don’t try to make it seem like it’s nuclear science in order to pounce on the innocent. All the best to you my friend!
That type of earth-shattering failure and pain really does a number on a person. Getting clean and overcoming those demons isn't as simple as people make it out to be. You need to have some serious deep-down reasons on why you must succeed at all costs. You have to be able to extricate yourself from the shackles of bad habits that have consumed you during your entire life. And that's precisely what Sharpe did.
Is there anyway “no follow” links can positively affect your search rankings? Most bloggers have to assign this attribute as they can’t trust every site they link to nor do they want to decrease their own PR. Is there any potential for search engine to reward a page that accumulates “no follow” links even if they accrue 1/10 the weight they previously did? This would reward those who take the time to actively blog.
I think Matt Grenville’s comment is a very valid one. If your site, for whatever reason, can not attract links naturally and all of your competitors are outranking you by employing tactics that might breach Google’s TOS, what other options do you have? As well as this people will now only link to a few, trusted sites (as this has been clarified in your post as being part of Google’s algorithm) and put a limit on linking out to the smaller guys.
That doesn't mean you won't make any money at the outset. No, as long as you configure the right free offer to capture those all-important email addresses on your squeeze pages, and you build a great value chain with excellent sales funnels, you'll succeed. If all that sounds confusing to you, don't worry, you'll learn over time. That's what internet marketing is all about. It's a constant and never-ending education into an oftentimes-convoluted field filled with less-than-scrupulous individuals.
Sharpe says that you shouldn't dive into internet marketing until you decide on a niche and figure out what you're passionate about. Do you want to join the make-money-online (MMO) niche? Or do you want to engage in another niche? For example, you could sell products or online courses about blogging or search engine optimization or anything else for that matter. Keep in mind that whatever you're selling, whatever niche you're in, that you need to embed yourself there deeply.

Description meta tags are important because Google might use them as snippets for your pages. Note that we say "might" because Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page's visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user's query. Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice in case Google cannot find a good selection of text to use in the snippet. The Webmaster Central Blog has informative posts on improving snippets with better description meta tags18 and better snippets for your users19. We also have a handy Help Center article on how to create good titles and snippets20.


On a blog the page rank should go to the main article pages. Now it just gets “evaporated” if you use “nofollow” or scattered to all the far flung nooks and crannys which means google will not be able to see the wood for the trees. The vast majority of a site’s overall page rank will now reside in the long tail of useless pages such as commentors profile pages. This can only make it harder for google to serve up the most relevant pages.
However, if you're like the hundreds of millions of other individuals that are looking to become the next David Sharpe, there are some steps that you need to take. In my call with this renowned online marketer, I dove deep the a conversation that was submerged in the field of internet marketing, and worked to really understand what it takes to be top earner. We're not just talking about making a few hundred or thousand dollars to squeak by here; we're talking about building an automated cash machine. It's not easy by any means.
But if you do it properly, it can be worth your money. Also, press releases can be much more than just a block of text. In December 2018, we ran a press release through Business Wire that had multiple backlinks, stylized call outs, and even a video! If you put effort into them, press releases can be not just a source of backlinks, but also serve as a great marketing piece as well.

Word of mouth communications and peer-to-peer dialogue often have a greater effect on customers, since they are not sent directly from the company and are therefore not planned. Customers are more likely to trust other customers’ experiences.[22] Examples can be that social media users share food products and meal experiences highlighting certain brands and franchises. This was noted in a study on Instagram, where researchers observed that adolescent Instagram users' posted images of food-related experiences within their social networks, providing free advertising for the products.[26]


Likewise, ‘nofollowing’ your archive pages on your blog. Is this really a bad thing? You can get to the pages from the ‘tag’ index or the ‘category’ index, why put weight to a page that is truly navigational. At least the tag and category pages are themed. Giving weight to a page that is only themed by the date is crazy and does not really help search engines deliver ‘good’ results (totally leaving aside the duplicate content issues for now).
“With 150 million pages, the Web had 1.7 billion edges (links).” Kevin Heisler, that ratio holds true pretty well as the web gets bigger. A good rule of thumb is that the number of links is about 10x the number of pages. I agree that it’s pretty tragic that Rajeev Motwani was a co-author of many of those early papers. I got to talk to Rajeev a little bit at Google, and he was a truly decent and generous man. What has heartened me is to see all the people that he helped, and to see those people pay their respects online. No worries on the Consumer WebWatch–I’m a big fan of Consumer WebWatch, and somehow I just missed their blog. I just want to reiterate that even though this feels like a huge change to a certain segment of SEOs, in practical terms this change really doesn’t affect rankings very much at all.
Our digital agency offers both traditional targeted online display advertising as well as behavioral retargeting. Through an intense discovery process, our team will determine the most optimal marketing mix for your online media plan. We will leverage ad network partnerships for planning the ideal media buys and negotiating the best possible pricing.

Just do a quick Google search. If you're monitoring to see if a link you built is indexed, or just want to find other areas where you've been mentioned or linked, do a quick search with your company brand name, your web URL or other terms you're following. I've seen plenty of backlinks indexed by the search engine that never showed up in my search console account.
Finally, it’s critical you spend time and resources on your business’s website design. When these aforementioned customers find your website, they’ll likely feel deterred from trusting your brand and purchasing your product if they find your site confusing or unhelpful. For this reason, it’s important you take the time to create a user-friendly (and mobile-friendly) website.

I think it is important you distinguish your advice about no-following INTERNAL links and no-following EXTERNAL links for user-generated content. Most popular UGC-heavy sites have no-followed links as they can’t possibly police them editorially & want to give some indication to the search engines that the links haven’t been editorially approved, but still might provide some user benefit.
Our leadership philosophy is to both lead and be led. We derive guidance and strength from every team-member in the company no matter what rank or experience level. We invest a great deal of time and resources in recruiting and developing the best talent in the industry. Every team member at IMI is encouraged to be an emerging leader and take on responsibility outside of their normal role. That is what makes IMI great and why we continue to flourish.
For the purpose of their second paper, Brin, Page, and their coauthors took PageRank for a spin by incorporating it into an experimental search engine, and then compared its performance to AltaVista, one of the most popular search engines on the Web at that time. Their paper included a screenshot comparing the two engines’ results for the word “university.”
I agree that there is no point in trying to over analyze how the PageRank is flowing through your site. Just focus on great content. Link out when it actually helps the reader. This is what Google wants – for you to give good quality content to their users. So if you are doing that, they will reward you in the long run. No need to worry yourself with these types of link strategies.
I did this post because I wanted people to understand more about PageRank, how it works, and to clarify my answers at SMX Advanced. Yes, I would agree that Google itself solely decides how much PageRank will flow to each and every link on a particular page. But that’s no reason to make PageRank a complete black box; if I can help provide people with a more accurate mental model, overall I think that’s a good thing. For example, from your proposed paragraph I would strike the “The number of links doesn’t matter” sentence because most of the time the number of links do matter, and I’d prefer that people know that. I would agree with the rest of your paragraph explanation–which is why in my mind PageRank and our search result rankings qualifies as an opinion and not simply some rote computation. But just throwing out your single paragraph, while accurate (and a whole lot faster to write!), would have been deeply unsatisfying for a number of people who want to know more.
Of course, it’s possible that the algorithm has some method of discounting internally reflected (and/or directly reciprocal) links (particularly those in identical headers or footers) to such an extent that this isn’t important. Evidence to support this the fact that many boring pages that are linked to by every page in a good site can have very low PR.

Search queries—the words that users type into the search box—carry extraordinary value. Experience has shown that search engine traffic can make (or break) an organization's success. Targeted traffic to a website can provide publicity, revenue, and exposure like no other channel of marketing. Investing in SEO can have an exceptional rate of return compared to other types of marketing and promotion.
At the time I was strongly advocating page rank sculting by inclusion of no follow links on “related product” links. It’s interesting to note that my proposed technique would have perhaps worked for a little while then would have lost its effectiveness. Eventualy I reached the point where my efforts delivered diminishing returns which was perhaps unavoidable.
Brian, you are such an inspiration. I wonder how do you get all these hacks and then publish them for all of us. I have been reading your stuff from quite a time now, but I have a problem. Every time I read something you post I feel overwhelmed but I haven’t been really able to generate any fruitful results on any of my sites. I just don’t know where to start. Imagine I don’t even have an email list.
Wow Brian…I’ve been making and promoting websites full-time since 2006 and just when I thought I’ve seen it all, here you are introducing me to all these innovative ways of getting backlinks that I wasn’t aware of before. I never subscribe to newsletters, but yours is just too good to say no to! Thanks very much for this information. Off to read your other posts now…
Another tool to help you with your link building campaign is the Backlink Builder Tool. It is not enough just to have a large number of inbound links pointing to your site. Rather, you need to have a large number of QUALITY inbound links. This tool searches for websites that have a related theme to your website which are likely to add your link to their website. You specify a particular keyword or keyword phrase, and then the tool seeks out related sites for you. This helps to simplify your backlink building efforts by helping you create quality, relevant backlinks to your site, and making the job easier in the process.

Secondly, nofollow is also essential on links to off-topic pages, whether they’re internal or external to your site. You want to prevent search engines from misunderstanding what your pages are about. Linking relevant pages together reinforces your topic relevance. So to keep your topic silos clear, strategic use of the nofollow attribute can be applied when linking off-topic pages together.
Hi Brian thank you for sharing this awesome backlinking techniques. My site is currently not ranking well. It used to be, sometime mid last year, but it suddenly got de-ranked. Not really sure why. I haven’t been participating in any blackhat techniques or anything at all. I’ll try a few of your tips and hopefully it will help my site back to its shape.
In 2007, Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank.[29] On June 15, 2009, Google disclosed that they had taken measures to mitigate the effects of PageRank sculpting by use of the nofollow attribute on links. Matt Cutts, a well-known software engineer at Google, announced that Google Bot would no longer treat nofollowed links in the same way, to prevent SEO service providers from using nofollow for PageRank sculpting.[30] As a result of this change the usage of nofollow led to evaporation of PageRank. In order to avoid the above, SEO engineers developed alternative techniques that replace nofollowed tags with obfuscated Javascript and thus permit PageRank sculpting. Additionally several solutions have been suggested that include the usage of iframes, Flash and Javascript.[31]

Okay, if you're still with me, fantastic. You're one of the few that doesn't mind wading through a little bit of hopeless murkiness to reemerge on the shores of hope. But before we jump too far ahead, it's important to understand what online marketing is and what it isn't. That definition provides a core understanding of what it takes to peddle anything on the web, whether it's a product, service or information.
Mathematical PageRanks for a simple network, expressed as percentages. (Google uses a logarithmic scale.) Page C has a higher PageRank than Page E, even though there are fewer links to C; the one link to C comes from an important page and hence is of high value. If web surfers who start on a random page have an 85% likelihood of choosing a random link from the page they are currently visiting, and a 15% likelihood of jumping to a page chosen at random from the entire web, they will reach Page E 8.1% of the time. (The 15% likelihood of jumping to an arbitrary page corresponds to a damping factor of 85%.) Without damping, all web surfers would eventually end up on Pages A, B, or C, and all other pages would have PageRank zero. In the presence of damping, Page A effectively links to all pages in the web, even though it has no outgoing links of its own.
Hi Brian thank you for sharing this awesome backlinking techniques. My site is currently not ranking well. It used to be, sometime mid last year, but it suddenly got de-ranked. Not really sure why. I haven’t been participating in any blackhat techniques or anything at all. I’ll try a few of your tips and hopefully it will help my site back to its shape.
I think I did it by nature 🙂 I am just starting to learn all SEO and SERP stuffs. PageRank only entered my life when I quit the job last month. I don’t rush and I believe in a more natural way to get traffics, such as trying hard to create good contents and releasing some GPL works. You give something, and traffic flows in return. It’s Newton III Law. No sculpting, nor illegal way is necessary.
But bear in mind that you can't guest post just anywhere and expect that it'll help. In fact, for years black hatters have perverted the value of guest posts by 'creating private blog networks,' which put out mass quantities of low-quality content for the sole purpose of exchanging backlinks. Google has caught on to this, and penalizes websites accordingly. So, you want to ensure that you only provide guest posts to reputable, respected websites that are relevant to your industry.
If you’re Matt Cutts and a billion people link to you because you’re the Spam guy at Google, writing great content is enough. For the rest of us in hypercompetitive markets, good content alone is not enough. There was nothing wrong with sculpting page rank to pages on your site that make you money as a means of boosting traffic to those pages. It’s not manipulating Google, there’s more than enough of that going on in the first page of results for most competitive keywords. Geez Matt, give the little guy a break!
What are backlinks doing for your SEO strategy? Well, Google considers over 200 SEO ranking factors when calculating where a page should rank, but we know that backlinks are one of the top three (the other two are content and RankBrain, Google’s AI). So while you should always focus on creating high-quality content, link-building is also an important factor in ranking your pages well on Google.
The allure of so-called internet riches is nothing new. At every bend and turn in a gauntlet of online gurus, you'll find internet marketers looking to hype up this supposed dream of making money online or earning passive income while kicking up your feet and letting the cash roll in. While internet marketing doesn't quite work that way, in that you actually do have to put in the work, it isn't too difficult to separate the proverbial men from the boys when it comes to the real online earners.
Hi Matt, we are currently about to upload a mayor project that includes applying no-follows to a numerous amount of links. This project was not conceived as a method of sculpting the site but because in out webmasters tools google alerted us that the site had too many links and this could affect crawling. This is mainly because we have a high listing and because we offer the users many filtering options which makes for great user experience as several surveys indicated. The idea of the no-follows was to apply them to these filtering links to tell google not to follow them. Do you think this is the way to go?. After reading your post I am affraid that we might be making a mistake.

SEO should be a core tactic in any marketing strategy. While it might seem difficult to understand at first, as long as you find the right course, book or audiobook, and devote your time to learning, you'll be in good shape. Considering that there are over 200+ ranking factors in Google's current algorithms, learning, digesting and successfully implementing good SEO tactics is essential to the success of your website or blog.


The Open Directory Project (ODP) is a Web directory maintained by a large staff of volunteers. Each volunteer oversees a category, and together volunteers list and categorize Web sites into a huge, comprehensive directory. Because a real person evaluates and categorizes each page within the directory, search engines like Google use the ODP as a database for search results. Getting a site listed on the ODP often means it will show up on Google.


My final (thank goodness) point on this is not that (white hat) PageRank sculpitng was really anything special. It was just quite logical. It really feels like we are going down a wrong route here. Shall we outlaw cars because some people drive dangerously? Or should we do all we can to make driving safer? Not on the same level in any way, but you can see my point here. This is the first time I have felt that you have made a bad call and that is the only reason I am making a case for the logics of this.
Many webmasters have more than one website. Sometimes these websites are related, sometimes they are not. You have to also be careful about interlinking multiple websites on the same IP. If you own seven related websites, then a link to each of those websites on a page could hurt you, as it may look like to a search engine that you are trying to do something fishy. Many webmasters have tried to manipulate backlinks in this way; and too many links to sites with the same IP address is referred to as backlink bombing.
There’s a lot of frustration being vented in this comments section. It is one thing to be opaque – which Google seems to be masterly at – but quite another to misdirect, which is what No Follow has turned out to be. All of us who produce content always put our readers first, but we also have to be sensible as far as on page SEO is concerned. All Google are doing with this kind of thing is to progressively direct webmasters towards optimizing for other, more reliable and transparent, ways of generating traffic (and no, that doesn’t necessarily mean Adwords, although that may be part of the intent).
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