SEO – Link Building Series: Arrest Page Rank leak & Optimize Your WordPress Blog

What we have seen so far in this series is a number of tips on how to SEO Optimize your blog – both onsite and offsite. Keyword optimization, Page structure optimization, Internal linking etc are examples of onsite SEO optimization. Backlink building, being in the good neighbourhood, getting social bookmarked etc are some of the offsite SEO examples.

As I mentioned sometime ago, the judicious use of the rel property is essencial on every single page of your website to make sure that the link love is shared with deserving target pages. In this post, I shall share a few practical tips to make sure that the possible PR leak from your pages is prevented thereby retaining more PR weightage for yourself.

Tips to arrest PR leak on your blog pages

The following are the actual fixes that I recently did to this blog’s homepage in order to reduce the total number of links and put rel=nofollow on certain links.

#1 Reduce the total number of links

I had a personal goal of reducing the total number of links on my homepage to 100. After some effort, I was successful in bringing it down to 110s from 140s by using the following methods:

  • Reduced the top commenters count from 8 to 7 and further to 6
  • On mutual agreement, I took out 3 blog roll links and link exchanges. Moving it to a different page would be an even better idea
  • Took out my favorite pro-blogger lists (3) and charity links (2) that were not at all receiving any clicks!
  • Took out the link on the author name under each post title
  • Reduced the homepage Recent posts count to 6 where as for individual posts it is still 8
  • Totally redundant stuff such as Recent comments, chronological archives etc were either removed or shifted to inner pages long back

Another step that I actively started taking sometime ago was to stop linking from the excerpt area or whatever comes before the ‘more’ tag of the posts. This makes sure that quite a few links are reduced on the home page depending on the number of posts you show there. But indisciple has now pushed my homepage link count to 120s.

#2 Work with the ‘Read more’ or ‘Continue reading’ link

Warning: Before proceeding further let me warn you that the next few changes are actually done on the WordPress core files or the theme files. If you want to attempt these changes, please backup those files first and in addition keep the change log in a text file or something like that.

A quick run via the NoDoFollow Firefox extension revealed that both the post title and the continue reading were following links. Now, even though they are links pointing to internal pages, why mark both of them as follow links. Moreover, I would rather make the Post title as a following link (because it has keywords, may be) and continue reading doesn’t carry any such value. So I edited the get_the_content() function in the file wp-includes\post-template.php to mark all ‘more’ links as nofollow (See the image below)

change to the more link

This change saves as many following links as the number of posts that you display on your home page.

#3 Optimize Recent Posts

I decided to work on recent posts for two reasons. First, I wanted to set the recent posts count to a reasonable number for a regular but weekly visitor. But for a search visitor (who usually hits single posts) I wanted to provide more options. So the following code was added to implement the Recent Posts (I do not use a widget)

Now, I wanted to mark it ‘nofollow’ because (i) most recent posts are already available on the homepage and hence the sidebar version’s role here was faster accessibility (ii) Single posts PR dilution had to be avoided as much as possible by not linking unrelated posts

(Small but sensible changes like not showing the latest post in ‘Recent Posts’ if the user is on homepage etc were already present)

change to recent posts feature

#4 Top Commentator Plugin

On the top commentator plugin, the idea was to give PR juice to regular visitors where as this had to happen via home page alone. By giving PR juice from internal pages, they are not benefited much where as the donor pages (single posts/pages) were loosing a lot. The following were the changes done to my version of the Top Commentator Plugin

change to the top commentator plugin

#5 Blogroll Links

Making blogroll links nofollow on inner pages is done via the following code change in the _walk_bookmarks function (wp-includes\bookmark-template.php module)

change to bookmarks rel property

#6 Comments, Responses links

The links to comments of posts (the link that read ‘Leave a comment’, ‘3 Responses’ etc) was made nofollow as well by editing the wp-inclueds/comment-template.php method by name comments_popup_link.

#7 Popular posts

The popular posts feature in my case has been a manually updated list. I decided to selectively mark some of them as ‘nofollow’ on the homepage because even without a following link they were already popular with search engines. In addition, on all other pages than the homepage, the popular posts were made ‘nofollow’! This change was done on the footer area.

#8 Other changes

In addition, I changed the following URLs on the homepage to rel=nofollow:

  • All external blogstat links and the widgets. This includes RSS (feedburner) URL and button image, blogcatalog, follow-me on twitter, twittercounter etc. Some of them use Javascript to render the links and in this case it wasn’t completely possible
  • All social bookmark links
  • All pages linked from the top nav bar. They mainly contained contact, advertise, archives, about pages which I thought do not any search visibility

Things in the TODO list

The category links under the post title is something that I haven’t made nofollow yet. This is due to the need to write a couple more variations of the stock functions.

(In addition, I would like to mention another important aspect of inbound PR juice here. Sometimes, you have to also make sure that you actually get the PR juice that you deserve from your link building campaigns. At the end the net PR that your pages is what really matters)

I hope that, with these changes and some link building, I will get an improved page rank on homepage during the next PR update. Please provide your comments as to whether some of the tips mentioned above are of some use to you or they are utter nonsense! Also, please let me know if the code snippets mentioned in the tips could be improvised at all.

Happy SEO!

Part X: A SEO Case study


  1. Raju :

    awesome article yet again! But can you tell me how to make links like Top Commentator noFollow on all pages other than homepage alone? Sidebar.php is shared across all pages right?

  2. @Raju, that’s exactly what is described above at #4 for my version of the top commentator plugin. But if you are using a different Top commentator plugin, edit its code and locate where the anchor tag for commentator name is and add code that’s underlined in my example.

    If you are unable to do it, let me know from where you downloaded the plugin and it’s release version. I shall provide you the fix.

  3. Wonderful Ajith! As soon as I get some time to work on my site I am going to implement many of these – especially #4 and #5 on the internal pages. I wish I had this post last November when I was concerned that all the follow links caused my page rank drop.

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post… How to Disable Post Revisions in WordPress

  4. Removing links from the part of post before “read more” is a great idea. That way you can still post those links in the article itself but it won’t be shown on the frontpage (where there’s always too many links anyway).

  5. Great post Ajith,

    I will like to add a couple of points here
    1. I hope you are not sacrificing crawlability by nofollowing so many internal links. Please remember that blogs rank better than static websites due to these internal links.

    2. I have seen properly optimized category pages rank better than individual pages for many competitive keywords. Check your analytics before you nofollow your category pages

    3. Finally I do not think that the PR of your homepage is impacted by how many links are there on your homepage. However how much of pagerank flows into each link is impacted by number of links. So if your homepage PR is 4 and you link to 100 pages, each page gets a PR boost of 0.04, whereas if you link to 50 pages then each page gets a PR boost of 0.08

    Binaryday’s last blog post… be aware of gmail phishing scam through Viddyho tinyurl

  6. Nihar :

    Ajith, Great post. I have done my self for the blog roll. Removing no follow in all pages except Home page. I will refer this to implement in top commentator plugin asap.

    Thanks again for the informative post.

    Nihar’s last blog post… February 2009 Blog Traffic & Income statistics

  7. Thanks for this one. I really needed one on how to nofollow the blogroll. Gonna work on this.

    Kurt Avish’s last blog post… KCA Kids Choice Award Voting Is Open

  8. Dennis Edell :

    Wow! I never wold have thought of some of these. Especially things like the link on the author name under each post title or the read more links; never never.

    This is just too cool. If you’ve been reading recent posts you know I’m embarking on a big “fix it” journey of my 3 blogs, starting with internal including link stuff; this is perfect to add!

  9. Wow really a very good post ajith.. I also need to make some changes wrt to the links..

    TechnoSamrat’s last blog post… Copy Video & Audio Files From Browser Cache With VideoCacheView

  10. @Kim, thanks… In fact, this is an experiment to check if even by sealing unwanted internal leakage, we can improve the PR… Unfortunately the success can be measured only by SERPs improvements or a PR4 comes through this time 😆

    @Odzyskiwanie Danych, Yes… that’s also a tip for writing paid reviews – to push all the backlinks they are asking for below the ‘more’ tag

    @Binaryday, Nope, the crawlability is not sacrificed as I am sealing unwanted or duplicate paths. e.g. Read more, category link under each post where as categories are already there on the sidebar.

    I know, category pages do rank better sometimes, but how many times do they get SE hits? very rarely.

    As for the PR division logic, I sincerely do not know much about it. However, I feel that lower the outbound dofollow links, the better for you… What say?

    @Nihar, cool… I am glad that the post was of practical use to you.

    @Kurt, if you want selected links as nofollow, there is another fix for that. Basically, you need to add yet another proprerty (checkbox selection) in the link edit page. This is done by editing the edit-link-form.php file.

    @Dennis, great… I am on a homepage cleanup spree as well.

    @Samrat, thanks… I hope PR5 is in the vicinity for you :)

    Thanks for your comments, everyone!

  11. Jun Dimaano :

    I just came across your blog about SEO and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here. I also have a web site & blog about SEO so I know I’m talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!

  12. @Jun, thank you for your visit and encouraging comment. I checked your blog. It’s awesome!

  13. sunil :

    HI Ajith Bhaiya once again

    Seriously u r giving us such a wonderful information.

    sunil’s last blog post… Baba was Akalkot Maharaj

  14. @sunil, you are welcome buddy…

  15. WuWu :

    Very nice post, thanks!!!

  16. bachtiar :

    Awesome Ajith….. the new things that ive learn today is put nofollow on top nav bar link…yeah youre doesn’t need a SE visibillity…so why we just put a nofollow there… while once its indexed it will be stay on SE *CMIIW*

    once again thanks mate

    bachtiar’s last blog post… Hasil akhir SEO challenge 2009

  17. @bachtiar, thanks buddy… Try some of these stop-follow measures to see if it helps with your next PR update at all :)

  18. Believe it or not you can over-optimize and google penalizes for this. Excessive usage of nofollow has been proven unofficially to be demerit link authority. Few case studies done – look up the seo sultan for more info.

  19. Kawika :

    I am concerned that your new nofollow link policy will largely be negated by Google’s new nofollow policy

  20. I’ve got a penalty by Google because of the big number of inner links I have on my wordpress blog pages. Fortunately after applying your tips I’ll be back in serps. I’m especially interested to add rel nofollow to a part of sidebar links (I have top articles, top visited posts, etc).

    Thanks mate!


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