NielsenData Blog by Jared Nielsen

MindTricks for Business - #2 - Advanced Search Engine Optmization (SEO) and NOFOLLOW

Proper SEO techniques will allow humans and robots to see your site

There is always a conflict between how accessible your website data is to Humans and to Robots.  The ability to “convert” a human to finalize a purchase is paramount so keyword spammy webpages that reduce conversions are simply not worth it.  However you also can’t convert humans unless the #1 lead source to your website is being catered to as well, whether overtly or behind the scenes. 

This method of targing both the human conversion and the robotic discovery is accomplished by implementing proper SEO techniques.  Many people ask me what the “trick” to Google is.  I can summarize it very succinctly.


Google can spot a fake and if you are going to rely on black hat tricks and schemes, you’re simply going to see a short-term boost in ranking which will wither on the vine.

Humans and Robots have different needs

The example on the right demonstrates a clone avoidance technique using the NOFOLLOW rel parameter on anchor text (<a href> hyperlinks).  In a traditional website we tend to let Google see EVERYTHING which is not effective.  Think of a typical brick and mortar store.  We have a nice front entrance with customer-oriented displays that are less organized but are beautiful and pleasing.  We also have a back door that opens to highly organized inventory warehouse with bare cement floors and barcoded shelving units. 

Humans should enter our website through the front door and see things like the customer service counter and the privacy policy and featured items… and the checkout aisle.

Robots don’t need to see any of this.  They aren’t going to buy anything, they don’t need to see our investor information, and they don’t need unorganized but pretty FLASH movies or glamorous pictures.  Not only can they not see them… they simply don’t care.  The diagram above illustrates how we set NOFOLLOW on portions of our website that may be visible to humans but we want the search engines to ignore them. 

Avoid Cloning through NOFOLLOW

We also want to ensure that Google indexes our website in the proper order and we channel the “juice” as concentrated as possible to our “money pages” and the hierarchies that go with that.  Take a product where the customer can navigate there in two separate paths.  They may come to my Nike yellow tank top through /Nike/Tank-Top/Yellow or through /Tank-Top/Yellow/Nike.  This creates two separate URL signatures that land on the same, exact product… effectively a clone.

To avoid this, we set a “weight” on each parameter as to its importance.  In this case we believe that more conversions will be determined by Brand and then Type and then Color.  Any other “path” to this item is “NOFOLLOW” enabled so Google will only see the one path… however the humans will see both.

Protecting your paths will ensure SEO dominance and conversions.

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