Nofollow on Your Site Will Not Cause It to Explode

Photo from Matt Cutts’s blog

“Nofollow is dead!”

“Your PageRank can’t be directed and if you try you’ll be penalized!”

“Ceiling Matt is watching your site funnel PageRank!”

It started at SMX, when Matt Cutts said that nofollow wouldn’t pass PageRank like it used to. Then the plot thickened when Matt posted an update aimed at clarifying some of the questions that have been swirling for the last couple of weeks. Virginia’s got the facts over in this month’s feature article, Matt Cutts on Nofollow and the Siloing Solution. I’m not going to rehash them here so I recommend you read at least that before we go on.

Go on. I’ll wait.

Back now? Good. Now, I know that everything is really confusing right now and you’re desperate to do something, anything, before you lose your shirt in the horrible, devastating wake of this nofollow change. Maybe you have clients beating down your door and they’re out for blood because they’ve heard that if there are any nofollow links on their site, the seas will turn red with blood and apocalypse shall begin. Or maybe you’re the client and you’re worried that your SEO company has implemented things on your site that now are going to harm your bottom line. Okay, everyone just sit down for a minute and take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay.

There’s a lot of discussion going on over at Matt’s entry regarding this topic. I particularly liked this reminder from Rae Hoffman: “1. SEO tactics can always change regardless of who first endorses them and 2. Not everything Matt says is etched in stone.”


The conversation on this is by no means over and the smart marketer won’t jump to conclusions about it. I know this isn’t the sexy solution. I know the cool thing to do is rail at Google for making all our lives harder, for adding confusion with each attempt to clarify. If I were really part of the cool kids, I’d probably come up with a really awesome conspiracy theory, but alas, I’m not cool.

It’s fun to get all excited and fired up but if it’s not going to help our clients, well, in the end, what’s the point? So I get to be the stick in the mud who waves the caution and risk-avoidance flag again. What are you going to do about nofollow? Well, right now, you’re not going to do anything.

If you’re feeling a little weak in the knees and you’re having visions of rankings plummeting, don’t panic. Here’s what I want you to do. First, stock up on some Ben & Jerry’s. That part is key. Next, I want you to repeat after me:

Dear [Insert your client here. If you’re the client, ensure that your SEO has this stance.],

I’m your SEO and you hired me because you trust me to stay on top of the search industry and to apply my brain to the information I find there. As a result, we’ve developed a strategy for your site that is focused on long-term goals and not knee-jerk reactions. Therefore, I’m not going to change anything about that strategy at the moment with regards to nofollow. I will monitor the forums, blogs and industry news sources in order to stay informed and once the message has stopped changing and the real effects of Google’s statements becomes clear, I will take the appropriate steps.

Yours sincerely,
[Your name here]

Now I want you to get out the ice cream and think calm thoughts. If you absolutely must do something right now about your SEO campaigns, go do some link building. Pound for pound, a good solid backlink will do a lot more for you than obsessing over leaked PageRank to your privacy page.

Susan Esparza is former managing editor at Bruce Clay Inc., and has written extensively for clients and internal publications. Along with Bruce Clay, she is co-author of the first edition of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies.

See Susan's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (5)
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5 Replies to “Nofollow on Your Site Will Not Cause It to Explode”

I totally agree that SEO tactics can always change but we will find another way to keep it up

Well that sorta kinda calmed me down. The Ben & Jerry’s I think is key. Maybe I can send some to the clients while they wait for my next update. :) Btw we had to dive into all of the controversy. Would love your thoughts & input

Maybe this is a bit irresponsible – but I just went crazy removing all my nofollows – I even went as far as dofollowing my comments (although I am now closing comments are 14 days). Check it out (even if it is just for the free link):

Susan Esparza

I firmly believe in the power of Ben & Jerry’s. Especially the Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. Really, how can you go wrong choosing ice cream over panic?

I <3 Susan, that is all. Love the letter, love the advice even more. *Applause*

Okay, going back in my corner now.


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