I currently have a large site navigation in the header of my site which links 3 levels deep in a large catalog of pages. I am going to be updating my website to silo the content and wish Google to not pass PageRank to most of these links but only to the second tier as these are content hubs and each represents a unique content silo (the top level is more for UI and are too generic to be content hubs).

When I am on one of these pages I wish to only pass PageRank to the sub pages of that tier and not to any of the other top tiers. The site is written on a custom code base so modifying HTML depending on the current page is easily done.

My first thought is to use the "nofollow" attribute on the links I wish Google to ignore (not pass PR) but on several (reputable?) SEO blogs it was suggested this would not work but no reason was given. The only other suggestions given were to use flash or JavaScript to load the menu so Google would not see it at all but this obviously doesn't suit my requirements.

If anyone can tell me if and why "nofollow" wouldn't work that would be appreciated, if it does not work I certainly would like other suggestions.

1 Answer 1


In this day and age you should never use the nofollow attribute on internal links to try and manipulate the flow of PR between pages it will only decrease your rankings because Google will place a hefty penalty on the site. It's worth mentioning that PR doesn't directly increase your search rankings and is one of hundreds of elements that it uses, so even a high PR page can have a penalty and be seen no where in the rankings.

If you do not want certain pages eating the JUICE up then simply don't index them, or if they ain't very good remove them all together from the site.

You are right the deeper the links the less flow of Juice they receive - you can use this to your advantaged by not linking to the deeper pages, for example:

Page B link is on Page A Page C link is on Page B Page D link is on Page D

Juice will be eaten up the time to gets to D meaning the more juice is flowed from the Root domain to pages A and B mostly. But realistically all pages can be ranked well if they are good and your visitors want to link to them.

Personally if you have low value pages and you want more value to other pages consider removing those with a Good old 404, or merging 2 pages and making the first page even better.... However in some cases a page might not be very useful to most people and weight little to the search engines - if this is the case then you should use a meta robots on the page such as

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">

This will tell Google and other Bots to not only index the page but pass page rank should anyone decide to link to that non-indexable page. It's worth noting that if you do not index these pages then the chances are they want be factored in when calculating your authority of the content you have, but it will pass juice if passed.

It's also worth mentioning that nofollow was originally designed for the purpose your referring to but many months later Google change their mind as people were abusing, the tag is now designed for external links - so you do not pass juice to them - Do not control your PR flow, its unnatural and very easy to detect. Focus on more constructive SEO like writing more good content ;)

  • Would it be worth using 301s to move the spiders from the undesired pages to better ones or does that also smack of over-optimization?
    – JCL1178
    Jan 11, 2013 at 18:23
  • Well you could do a 301 redirect on User Agent detected that being Google but that's assuming they visit your site always using the user agent. 301s have been completely abused in recent years and Im sure that they have secondary bots that view sites not using the robots user agent to sniff out blackhat methods. I would seriously avoid 301 nofollow and so forth. If the deeper links as I said old little value merge them with inner pages or think about removing them all together so Google doesn't flow the juice to these pages. A noindex works rather well since PR will only flow on pages indexed. Jan 11, 2013 at 18:28
  • But again.... noindex pages do not add authority or value to the rest of the site unless they are linked too and only then only the link juice is passed and not the content itself so that itself doesn't solve the problem. I'm a big fan of making LESS MORE! ;) Jan 11, 2013 at 18:29
  • Thanks for answering bybe, do you have anything to support the "manually controlling PR is bad" point of view, this is in direct opposition to the advice I am being given (by someone who built a very popular PR 7 site)? Jan 12, 2013 at 15:50
  • Also, we are mainly focused on building excellent content as you are right that this is VERY important, but structure is a huge part of this. Why do you say that using the nofollow in this way will result in penalty, I can find no evidence that this is true. Jan 12, 2013 at 15:52

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