I Lurve Shari Thurow Too

Recently, Shari got some flak for the condescending tone of her anti-nofollow post on SEL. But guess what? I agree with her.

Parasites of the Interweb

There are short-sighted people out there always looking for short cuts. They won’t hesitate to pay you $600/hour to hear you say “you need to write unique META descriptions.” Ya know, easy fixes and promises of big returns. It’s all about high ROI. Contribute to the community as little as possible and milk it till its drier than Erg Chebbi. It’s “you reap 10,000,000 times what you sow” syndrome. It’s about living off the web like a parasite. It’s about putting money in your pocket screw everybody else.

For those people, internal nofollow is an easy sell because its easy to implement. You don’t have to spend hours writing blog posts. You don’t have to share valuable ideas with other people. You don’t have to come up with anything original. You don’t have to dump your template site someone else spoon fed you and design a truely compelling site from the ground up. All you have to do is spend a couple of hours adding rel=nofollow to your pages.

I’m not saying short cuts don’t exist. After making thousands of bucks and 5,000+ visits/day per psuedo-spam domain using a script that took less than two hours to code, and having PPC campaigns that make me $10,000 for every $500 I put in, I know there are short cuts.

Still, there’s a time and place for every SEO tactic. We’re always short on time, and given multiple choices, we are forced to choose which path to take. Clients want instant gratification. Don’t give it to them - unless the client is willing to settle for 80% long term/20% short term strategy. If a client is unwilling to do the right thing, warn your client in advance that what you’re going to do for him/her is probably going to be a complete waste of your time and hir money. That way, a few months down the road, your client won’t come back to you and bitch that nothing is happening. The appropriate response in that scenario is “I told you so.” Don’t take the blame for your client’s bad judgement calls.

What should you change before you touch internal nofollow?

First order of the day has always got to be injecting value into your website so that its by far the best in your niche. If it isn’t the best, forget SEO, forget marketing, forget everything else. Work on improving your site.

How do I know that something I built is going to sell? I know because I use it every single day.

Second, increase visibility. No, forget “authority links from high PageRank pages.” Get noticed on Craiglist, Myspace, whatever, it doesn’t matter. If your competitor is dominating Google Maps results in your area, for example, you know what you gotta do. If you run a search on Trulia and get a bunch of listings by your competitor, you got work to do.

Many big dogs in my vertical don’t depend on Google. Sure, they get 80,000+ Google hits/day, but that doesn’t represent the majority of their traffic. They leech traffic off other sites, they buy traffic, they get on top lists, they submit videos to Youtube — they do whatever it takes to generate traffic. Is the traffic not converting? Filter it, trade it, sell ads - as long as your site is visible, there’s money to be made. You fixate on rankings and high TBPR links and guess what? You’re probably going to end up just scraping by.

Internal nofollow isn’t evil. But unless you have unlimited amount of time, you gotta prioritize your SEO campaign. Internal nofollow should not be at the top of your todo list.

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5 Responses to “I Lurve Shari Thurow Too”

  1. Damn…seems like you’re being pretty hard on a fairly minor on-page optimization technique. Internal nofollow definitely isn’t magic pixie dust, but it’s endorsed by Cutts, and takes very little time to do. I definitely agree with the tone of the post (i.e. shortcuts are few & far between - and not publicized) but I don’t agree that internal nofollow is a waste of time.

  2. “Damn…seems like you’re being pretty hard on a fairly minor on-page
    optimization technique.”

    Eric, I took a big part in promoting internal nofollow. Don’t miss the comments on this post (published just a few days before Matt placed his stamp of approval on nofollow in an SEOmoz interview):


    especially the back and forth between me and Michael Martinez, who is very much against internal nofollow.

    That said, one of my clients is was driving me nuts. For months, he insisted on looking for all sorts of short cuts and refused to invest money into real marketing/content building. There’s a time and a place for everything. Internal nofollow is a lemon Google gave us and I say hell, let’s make lemonade. But before you do, prioritize your SEO campaign.

    There are too many webmasters looking to pay SEOs $900/hour wanting to hear secret two-minute tweaks that will magically catapult their sites to #1 rankings. I can make good money by feeding these types of clients garbage or take them for a wild goose chase. But I’d rather push them to do what’s necessary to rank higher - and usually that means a long protracted campaign instead of a two hour consulting gig.


    Dave got Matt to comment further on internal nofollow, and what Matt says I fully agree with:

    “Matt’s answer was :

    Nofollowing your internals can affect your ranking in Google, but it’s a 2nd order effect.

    My analogy is: suppose you’ve got $100. Would you rather work on getting $300, or would you spend your time planning how to spend your $100 more wisely.

    Spending the $100 more wisely is a matter of good site architecture (and nofollowing/sculpting PageRank if you want). But most people would benefit more from looking at how to get to the $300 level.”

  3. Thanks for the response. I definitely agree about prioritizing, and I can feel you on the “where’s the magic juice?” question. I don’t take SEO clients, but I 100% agree that you should spend time planning & prioritizing from the start. Again, good post, and thanks for clarifying.

  4. I often question the nofollow and am often amazed to find nofollow links showing up when I look at my links at alltheweb.com, it just makes me wonder if they really work or is it a ploy to try and stop people from Spamming that does not actually work?

  5. They work, if by “work” you mean they stop link juice flow.

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