Can You Have Too Much NoFollow?

This has come up many times, but a new OptiSmarts subscriber asked…

I have enjoyed your optismarts videos so far and am looking forward to future videos. Your speaking voice and style are very pleasant and I appreciate your ability to speak simultaneously to both novices and more advanced users.

I am in the top 10 for my 4 preferred keywords at Google (thanks to OptiLink) and do not want to do anything to lose my rankings. Is it possible to overdo the usage of the no follow attribute to the point where Google thinks I am overoptimized?"

…so I’ll answer again in greater detail.

"There are theoretically two ways nofollow can be a problem, one I’ve seen, and the other I have not. The first is simple misuse, generally due to lack of complete understanding, and the second is an actual "penalty" which I have never seen. Let’s spend a moment on both of these.

Misuse is really really easy, and the problem starts with not knowing what pages you actually want to have ranked. A classic example is an Adsense site where nofollow is used to push all the PR to the home page. OOPS! It is likely that the internal pages optimized for the low traffic but high conversion search phrases are de-ranked in favor of a page (the home page) that never earned any money. For many sites the wholesale use of Dynamic Linking (via nofollow) is not what you want. These sites should use it very selectively where a site more focused on home page traffic should nofollow more extensively.

But an outright penalty is another matter. I do not think this exists and am not aware of even a single case where nofollow can be objectively construed as the "smoking gun". Moreover, there are many very high ranking sites making effective use of nofollow without any sign of penalty. In a recent OptiSmarts video seminar I show one that is a household name. Others exist as well.

As a general rule, I find that "over-optimization penalties" are actually caused by something unrelated, but I do still keep looking.

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