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We have a well designed internal linking system that makes certain no page is more than four pages deep, and the indexing process has gone well for us.

However, in addition to the hierarchical page links we created to help with the crawl, many pages have links (cross-links, if you will) to other related data. For example, a person may have links to all the companies they own. The companies, though, have their pages exposed as part of the hierarchical linkage we built, meaning that there are often many routes to the same page.

It seems like it would be beneficial to make all of our links that are not part of the hierarchical linkage to be "NoFollow" so the spider does not get "distracted" so to speak, at risk of hitting a page it's already visited.

Clearly, the most efficient way for Google to finish its crawl would be to visit the links that are part of the hierarchy, but not click over to the cross links.

However, I have two concerns:

  1. Some people call what I propose PR-shaping, stating that it's a form of over optimization that Google frowns upon.
  2. When the spider hits a detail page from an external link, it is nice to have it follow through on additional pages linked off of that page.

Should I leave well enough alone, or should I use "NoFollow" on the internal links to related content?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

PageRank shaping is a perfectly fine thing to do.

Bots don't get distracted by multiple links to the same page so I wouldn't even continue that train of thought. I also wouldn't throw away PR to your internal pages for any reason (nofollow links still send PR but it essentially thrown away as it does not get counted for the receiving page). If you're ever concerned that a page may be getting too much PR then alter how you link to it. But don't use nofollow on internal links unless you don't want them indexed, etc. You're only hurting yourself.

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Thanks John. I read the link you provided. I see that it says, basically, it's OK to define your links off site as NoFollow. I'll take your word on the rest of the answer; you're certainly a trustworthy source/expert. Nevertheless, if you run across an article on the subject, feel free to pass it along! :-) –  Chris Adragna Dec 10 '10 at 20:36
    
great article +1 –  Marco Demaio Dec 13 '10 at 22:48
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