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The site I am working on has few hundred distributors, each one has its own page, and a link to that distributors website. Some of the distributors have multiple locations and so they have multiple pages with the same link.

Should I put a rel="nofollow" on those external links so that I don't send my link juice out of the site or should I do it? I am not really sure what is best for my site.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

No, there's no point in trying to sculpt PageRank this way, as Matt Cutts makes clear in the linked blog post.

The only reasons to put rel="nofollow" on those pages are if they are paying for the links (could get you penalized in search results) or if you don't trust those sites to not be in "bad neighbourhoods" and harm your reputation by linking to them.

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+1 Thank you, very good answer. I didn't know how Google did page rank, it makes a lot more sense now! –  RandomBen Jul 21 '10 at 13:40
    
Keep in mind that that's a very simplified version of page rank. It's good enough for basic SEO, but once you start getting into the minutae of testing you can't count on it. Of course, as Matt points out in that blog post, nobody actually noticed the change when they made it, so either testing is totally not worth the time to create and maintain your website "lab" or, more likely, pro SEOs did notice and kept it to themselves for competitive advantage :) –  JasonBirch Jul 21 '10 at 17:31
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@Marco there's a difference between curated URLs and externally provided content. Managing links in external content can be time-consuming and full of conflict, and it's often easier to apply a blanket nofollow. Apart from this, many blog software packages default to nofollow for comments to dissuade spam. For instance, WordPress (the software I use) doesn't even have an option to turn this off... you have to download and maintain a third-party plugin if you want your comments followed. –  JasonBirch Aug 15 '10 at 18:19
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@Marco Demaio: Matt Cutts gave the shopping cart page as an example of one of the rare exceptions where you'd want to use nofollow internally. And the reasoning for that is that shopping cart pages are different for every user (and every visit); so transferring PR to them or even indexing them is of no value. That's not so much PR sculpting as just sensible nofollow use. PR sculpting is when you manipulate PR flow for SEO purposes--e.g. applying nofollow to external links to "hoard" PR or applying it to internal links to drive PR to pages that generate the most revenue. –  Lèse majesté Oct 19 '10 at 11:52
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@Marco it's more like amputation than sculpting :) The PR that you're not sending to the cart is just falling out of the graph rather than being re-distributed to the other sections of your site. –  JasonBirch Oct 20 '10 at 19:30
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Using nofollow might not be worth in order not to send out link juice (in other words Google Page Rank) in this case.

But linking to those sites you are DEFINITELY giving out your link juice! Doesn't matter what Matt Cutts says now in his blog, you can test for it on your own. Remove totally those links and your Google PR will go up (you have to wait some months). Then put them back in and you will see your Google PR going down again.

Unfortuantely the only way to show those links without giving out link juice is to hide them in some way to Search engines. It used to be simple to do by using Javascript, but now Google reads through links created in Javascript (you can test this by yourself creating a page with a link created by Javascript, the link must point to a not found page. In Goggle webmaster tools you will see in few weeks that Google indexes those type of links too and complains about the not found page).

It came out a new technique anyway to hide those links, here is an article explaining how to hide links to Google and other search engines using simple Javascript: http://www.seomofo.com/ethics/using-javascript-to-hide-links.html This is fairly simple technique too that uses Javascript to create links, as before, but also sets robots.txt in order to tell search engine not to crawl the javascript file used to create those links. In this way search engine should not be able to follow the link theoretically (I did not test it yet).

These types of techniques anyway might be somthing called "Black-Hat SEO technique" or let's say at least "Grey SEO technique". There is a discussion about this on Google's chit chat.

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