Page Rank Sculpting

This is the second part of a two-part article on page rank optimization and page rank sculpting. To understand it better, please read the first article . It covers such topics as relevancy vs importance, how PR is calculated, dampening factor and more. In this article, we’ll discuss page rank from external link, the explicit principles of page rank sculpting, and more.

Page rank cannot exceed the number of pages on the Internet. If each page’s vote (link) is counted as 1 point, and there are 5 billion web pages on the Internet, then total page rank cannot exceed 5 billion points.

On the other hand, one page can have more than one vote or one page rank point. The same principle applies on the site wide level. For example, if there are  100 pages on a website, with no external links, then there’s 100 page rank points to be distributed between those pages. To highlight the importance of X page to Google, increase the number of internal pages that link to X.

Once external links enter the equation, the game changes, as more page rank flows in.

Page Rank from External Links

The primary way to get rankings is to get links from outside websites. As more websites link, they pass more page rank and make a page become more important in terms of page rank. Once additional page rank flows into the website from outside websites, that page rank can be distributed internally, to help other internal pages rank.

But not all links are equal. You’ve heard that many times. Sometimes 10 links can have a value of 100 links. For instance, let’s assume "pageX" has 100 links and  "pageY" has 50 links. Here’s the visual:


Total Number of External Links

Total Value of Page Rank From External Links







The question you may be asking is, why does "pageY" have 250 PR points (remember that real page rank is counted with large values) with only 50 links, while "pageX" only has 300 PR points with twice the amount of links? The reason this can occur is simple – the 50 links that point to "pageY" are more powerful individually in terms of page rank values than those pointing to "pageX."

This is why you hear SEOs state that it’s better to have one link from a high-quality site than 10 links from lower-quality sites. If that one link is worth 1000 PR points and 10 links combined are only worth 100 points, then the one quality link is going to pass 10 times more value than the lower-quality ones. This means it will have much more impact on rankings. This is the reason SEOs want links from high PR websites, because those are the links that count the most.

NOTE: If you’re wondering how page rank value can exceed 10, than you need to understand that the Google Toolbar value is not real. Real page ranks use long numerical values for page rank computation. Toolbar page rank shows a range, not the real page rank. For a detailed explanation read my previous article on page rank sculpting.

So we have "pageX" with 100 external links and 300 PR points, and "pageY" with 50 external links and 250 PR points. Let’s simplify this further. Let’s assume that there’s a total of 10 pages on the site, and the pages noted above are the only ones with external links. This gives us a total of ten pages, and the following table:


Total PR points

8 pages without links

1 per each page, for a total of 8 points.





As you can see, pageX and pageY are MUCH more powerful in terms of page rank than the eight other pages. You can use their power to help the other pages rank better. We’ll explain this on the third page of this article, but before we do let’s overview navigation, which is essential.

{mospagebreak title=Global Navigation}

Global navigation is the navigation that users can find on every page of a  website. This is usually the main way to navigate the website, and global navigation leads to most important parts of the site.

Global navigation can be vertical or horizontal, depending on the website. Sometimes global navigation is duplicated in the footer to feature more keyword-rich links on each page, but let’s ignore the footer for now. Since global navigation is present on each page of the site, links from there are highly important, and are at the core of page rank sculpting strategy.

Secondary Navigation

Secondary navigation is only featured on a certain portion of the website. Here’s an example.

Global Navigation:

Dogs | Bears | Cats | Fish | Birds (notice that "Cats" is selected right now)

Secondary Navigation:

  • Blue Cats

  • Puffy Cats

  • Red Cats

  • Nasty Cats

  • Stinky Cats

  • Hot Cats

Secondary navigation is usually there to navigate within a specific section and changes as you travel between sections. Links from secondary navigation are less important than from global navigation, but play an important role for longer keyword phrases.

{mospagebreak title=Sculpting Page Rank}

So let’s go back to where we left off. We have "pageX" with 100 external links and 300 PR points, "pageY" with 50 external links and 250 PR points, and eight pages each with 1 default PR point.

Through the use of global navigation, here’s what the distribution looks like (we won’t be using secondary navigation in the examples):


300 / 9 = 33.3 PR passed per each page.


250 / 9 = 27.7 PR passed per each page

Other pages (single page)

1 / 9 = 0.1 PR passed per each page

And here’s what PR distribution looks like for our website:


Total PR power from external links

PR passed from PageX

PR Passed from PageY

8 other pages

Total PR Power




– (can’t pass PR to itself)








– (can’t pass PR to itself)



8 Other pages






As you can see from the chart, the most powerful page turned out to be "PageX," because in addition to its 300 points it gained more from "PageY" and "8 other pages."

Now that eight pages without external links share the same of amount of page rank, how do you highlight importance of a particular page that you want to rank on search results? This brings us to the next two topics.

Add More Internal Links to Important Pages

In the example above, each page linked to each other, thus eight pages without external links ended up with an equal PR score of 61.7. In the real world, this is not the case. Rarely do all pages links to each other; thus, page rank distribution is unequal. So let’s take another example that will demonstrate how to highlight the importance of a specific page. Let’s name our eight pages X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7 and X8.

So now we have the PageX, PageY and X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7, X8.

Our PageX and PageY already have high PR scores of 300 and 250, so those will rank well. In this example we are concerned with the weak X pages.

Let’s assume that all pages are linked more randomly, closer to the real world. Let’s say that

X2 links to: PageX, PageY, X4 and X6

X7 links to: X4, X5, PageY and X8

PageY links to: X3, X1, PageX and X6

Their linkage pattern is more random. So how do you highlight an important page to make it stand out from the rest of them? Include more links to that page. So for instance, if X5 the page that you want to rank, then make sure that every page links to it, or, to put it simply, add more links to it from other external pages. The links that will matter the most are the links from pages with high page rank, in our case PageX and PageY, while X pages will add their little share to the equation.

{mospagebreak title=Subtract Links}

Link subtraction is simple. Take out a page from the page rank circle and there will be more page rank to pass on to pages that are still in the circle. For example, if B page has PR 100, and links to D,E,G,F, then each page gets 25 points (100 / 4). If you take one page out of the circle, there will be fewer pages with which to share PR, but the same amount of PR. So if we take away D and E, but leave G and F, those page will enjoy 50 points instead of 25 (100 / 2).

Use of the Nofollow Attribute in Link Subtraction

Nofollow, though invented to combat blog spam, is also used in page rank sculpting.

Here’s how nofollow looks:

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

When Google sees rel="nofollow" in a link, it does not follow that link and simply drops it from its index. The link looks 100% identical to website users, but Google ignores it.

Search engine optimizers use this command to exclude links that must be present for website users (contact us, policy, about, terms of use, etc), but are unimportant to the search engines. Pages that are unimportant to search engines take up valuable page rank points, so SEOs block page rank flow with the rel="nofollow" tag.

Please note that the above calculations are HUGE simplifications of the page rank process. The process is much more complex and undergoes more than a hundred computations known as iterative calculations and convergence. For more detailed information, please do research on the web for "page rank calculations" and "page rank iterative."

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