Is Your Website Leaking PageRank?

Leaking Faucet

By: JTHammond

Improving and maintaining PageRank is a top priority for webmasters because it affects how much traffic a website will receive from Google. But what many webmasters do not realize is that their websites are leaking PageRank, causing their overall site-wide PageRank to be lower than it should be.

What Is PageRank Leakage?

PageRank leakage is when outbound links to external websites give away pagerank that could be better distributed among pages within the website. The effect of pagerank leakage is most profound when a website has many links to external sites, and when internal pages are not well linked.

How To Prevent PageRank Leakage

There are two main ways to prevent PageRank leakage:

1. Eliminate redundant outbound links.

Many websites and blogs have footers and sidebars which contain outbound links. The footer, for example, might contain links to the company that developed the website or to the content management system on which it was built. And the sidebar often contains a blogroll.

The problem is that these links are typically displayed on every page of the website, causing PageRank to exit and adding no value to the page.

To fix this problem, you can remove all of these redundant links and place them in all in one single page. This solution is very popular because it enables webmasters to share a limited amount of PageRank, while not dramatically contributing to the website’s overall PageRank leakage.

2. Use Nofollow Links

Another way to limit PageRank leakage is to completely stop links from passing PageRank. This is easily done by adding nofollow to links, as shown in the example below.

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Example</a>

This method is very effective, however, many webmasters are reluctant to add nofollow to links because it is often considered selfish to avoid passing PageRank to legitimate websites. And you also don’t want to completely stop linking to websites because there is evidence that Google does take your outbound links into consideration when ranking your website. But you should consider using nofollow when linking to advertisers and sponsors, and in any links that you do leave in your footer or sidebar.

What About PageRank Distribution within Your Website?

You can also use these techniques to control PageRank distribution within your website. If you have some preferred content that you want to rank well, you can prioritize it by linking liberally to it from your other pages. Additionally, if you want to avoid wasting PageRank on a page, you can opt to use nofollow links when linking internally.

In the Google Webmasters/Site owners help, Google calls this crawl prioritization and gives the following example:

Search engine robots can’t sign in or register as a member on your forum, so there’s no reason to invite Googlebot to follow "register here" or "sign in" links. Using nofollow on these links enables Googlebot to crawl other pages you’d prefer to see in Google’s index.


For more information on pagerank, see our article "How To Improve and Maintain Your Google Pagerank".

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14 Responses to “Is Your Website Leaking PageRank?”

  • Jackie January 24, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Yeh, I didn’t add any links to my blogroll because I found out about this pagerank problem. Although, I don’t have much page rank, so it probably doesn’t matter anyway.

    • Velvet Blues February 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm

      Well, everyone starts somewhere. So you are allowing your internal pagerank to increase by trapping it on your website and not linking too much to other sites.

  • Kim Woodbridge January 24, 2009 at 7:48 am

    What would be the best way to only keep the blogroll on one page? I guess it would be best to have it on the main index and not on the single posts page.

    I used to follow every link because I didn’t know any better. I use nofollow now on a case by case basis.

    • Velvet Blues January 24, 2009 at 8:30 am

      Yes, many people have taken that approach as well, putting the blogroll on the index. That way the blogroll is seen by everyone, but it isn’t siphoning off pagerank on every page. And, one added benefit is that you have more sidebar real estate to play with. :-)

      Yes, I use nofollow on a case by case as well. Although, I did originally use a plugin that added nofollow to all links so I had been a bit stingy with pagerank in the past.

  • Kurt Avish January 25, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Nice post. My blog roll is quite long and it will be a bit unfair if I remove it as they are all my friends who have link back to me who are on it. However you know of a way that I can nofollow the blogrolls links only? ANy plugin for it?

    I want to leave the blogroll there itself but nofollow the links.

    • Velvet Blues January 26, 2009 at 1:41 am

      Well, when I’ve done it on sites, I’ve just manually edited the theme’s function.php file to add a filter… So I personally haven’t used a plugin for this.

      But here is one that looks promising:

      I am sure that there are others.

    • Udegbunam Chukwudi September 14, 2009 at 3:41 am

      As velvet says, functions.php is better but here’s another way without plug-ins. It involves getting dirty with one of the wordpress installation files. Check out How To NoFollow Blogroll Links

  • Nihar January 26, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Great post. as i started reading this post. I immediately opened my footer and added nofollow to theme’s link. I have to somehow add nofollow problematically on non home page and remove them on home page for my blogroll that would achieve the #1.

    • Velvet Blues January 27, 2009 at 2:55 am

      Haha. I’m glad that I could help. Yes, adding nofollow is crucial. You still get to give external websites links and send them referral traffic, but you also get to trap your pagerank.

  • Richael Neet February 11, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Since the value of PR is being disputed, I deduced that why not make my blog do follow to attract more traffic and care less of PR updates. This action is showing results via increase in daily traffic.

  • rhythm December 30, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks guys, but I’m not getting the concept of how lots of links pointing OFF your site would “leak pagerank”, as long as you have plenty of good-quality one-way backlinks coming INTO your site. Further explanation?

  • rhythm December 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Also, forgot to ask, what is the value of having or not having the Tag Cloud on a blog…all those random different-sized blue words. Many blogs include it, so it must have some good effect somehow, but what’s the definitive answer?

  • tim August 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    A quick tool I like to use to check for stuff I may have missed is

    As you can see has no leakage and is right on top of the SEO game they even validate through WC3 unlike 80% of the sites out there!


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