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A study into the history of onclick and PageRank, along with evidence that links using onclick for tracking can pass PageRank.
It would be great if Matt or one of his team could give us more details regarding when it might be counted, and when it isn’t, as existing information is obviously confusing.
Comments22 Comments  

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from ViperChill 3542 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Nice post andy, in-depth.

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from RoseDesRochers 3542 Days ago #
Votes: -8

I recommend that you read this. It may look like a clear link, but is not pass PR. http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?p=90316 It is a discussion where Matt Cutts and Brian White both from Google mention that OnClick Java does not pass PageRank. If you look closely you will see that it is very similar to what BC uses.

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from ShawnDesRochers 3542 Days ago #
Votes: -7

Hello Andy Beard, it does not. All this proves is some links - show up in a search engine inquiry! Thus allowing Google.com to include it in their index(s). But Matt Cutts and Brian White have already stated on SearchEngineWatch that onlick will NEVER PASS GOOGLE JUICE. http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?p=90316 Look at that forum thread very close, and the similarities of the URL posted, Matt Cutts and Brian White state they will not pass Google Juice because of the onclick function provokes different behavior. So you’re blowing smoke, Andy Beard. Examine that thread and then come back to me, on your take of the discussion that took place on SearchEngineWatch.com. Shawn DesRochers

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from robwatts 3542 Days ago #
Votes: 3

@ R Desrochers , sorry to be persnickety but Java and javascript are two entirely different things. @ S Desrochers, they didn’t actually use the word NEVER and the two examples are not actually identical. You also need to look at the context and date of that thread. Paid links are a contentious issue, they were then and they still are today. Do you think it surprising that search reps would downplay the effectiveness of such a tactic or wade in with something positive about a site selling non nofollow links on its site? Brian White in that thread there said "These links will not count for PageRank value. For instance, gadgets-weblog.com is not receiving PageRank from washingtonpost.com. Neither will the links count from washingtonpost.com to finance-weblog.com, for that matter." In other words, we are telling you publically that washington post paid links have no link juice value. Ive no idea why they’d have issue with a separate tracking behaviour as ultimately for me at least, so long as the destination is the same as that seen in the status bar AND there is a privacy and user policy pertaining to how they treat certain aspects of their code, then it really shouldn’t matter a hoot. Would their campaign against the selling of anchor text vanilla html links have anything to do with this? No sorry but it would have been better had MC and BW said something along the lines of, yep these links are worthless for the purposes of PR and anchot txt because they are paid and we don’t like paid links from one site to another, especially if they aren’t clearly identified.

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from RoseDesRochers 3542 Days ago #
Votes: -7

Where did I say other wise? I guess someone from Google is the only one who can really answer if they do or do not.

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from JohnWeb 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 4

I don’t know if I am missing something or not, but isn’t this very easy to test? 1) Create new page 2) Link to it in this manner 3) watch the logs If the new page isn’t linked anywhere else, but then is crawled and indexed, the link passes juice. My gut tells me that they don’t see the link in the click but do in the href.

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from WebGuerrilla 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 4

You should listen to what Andy says. Anyone who thinks the existence of onclick in a link automatically stops the flow of juice without any human intervention is smoking crack.

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from RoseDesRochers 3541 Days ago #
Votes: -6

Web, why should I listen to what he says? Because3 he is Andy Beard? Andy, could you not do your own research? Interesting discussion here. http://www.blogcatalog.com/discuss/entry/help-me-help-me-with-my-add-riddled-impatience-and-get-a-free-link-too-boot Some links are being found, but many are not. Hmm, I wonder why that is?

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from Halfdeck 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 4

"Web, why should I listen to what he says? Because3 he is Andy Beard?" You can argue with anyone you want. You don’t need to agree with anyone either. Prove your case using facts. So far you have Matt and Brian White’s words on your side; unfortunately, their words leave alot of room for interpretation. onclick is a generic javascript invocation that can cause a wide variety of things to happen. In AJAX, for example, I use onclick to process information instead of as a navigation UI. It isn’t clear whether Matt Cutts is saying all onclick-enabled links pass no link juice or just a particular type of onclick code. Like JohnWeb mentioned, this sort of thing isn’t hard to prove or disprove.

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 3

I’ve removed a comment that was too personal and edited out references or responding comments from others. This is a good discussion, and I appreciate the folks who are keeping it to the facts. Please keep the focus there, thanks.

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 3

"This article will prove that onclick can pass PageRank - it will not prove that it always passes PageRank." That’s it, to me. It could pass PageRank, but it might not. In fact, a plain ordinary HTML link *could* pass PageRank but also *might* not. I think Google has said that it might show some backlinks in a link: lookup that aren’t giving any credit at all. Why? Because it makes it harder for those trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work. I’m pretty sure Rand was just pointing this fact out to me. Certainly in terms of what we "know," seeing a link showing up in Google only tells us that it knows there’s a link to a particular page and chooses to show it to us. It could decide not give any credit at all. To really test, you’d have to find a page, know every link pointing at it and try to tell if any of those links are doing anything to help the page they are pointing at rank. Here’s another thing to keep in mind. Wikipedia does nofollow, right? But there are some who feel despite this, Google will decide to pass credit. We also know that Google will discount some link from giving credit even if nofollow is being used.

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from AndyBeard 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Danny it gets even more confusing, because Google might not have decided to ignore the link... yet, such as with paid links. Whilst I might be able to set up an effective example to try to prove whether a weighting is given for anchor text with an onclick component, using some mumbo jumbo phrase such as your recent meta keywords experiment, that still wouldn’t prove anything because Google might decide to apply a penalty for the onclick at a later date. Halfdeck in the comments on my post has highlighted a whole load of paid links that appear in a link: check for a well known link broker, and you would have to assume those are known about by Google and discounted. There are other ways to handle the click tracking, but that would involve something which is more hidden, and I am not sure that would necessarily be a good thing for anyone. There are other ways which make the link less appealing from a user perspective, and I for one hate clicking on 301 redirect tracking scripts.

Avatar Moderator
from Sebastian 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Interlinking the discussions: http://sphinn.com/story/5310#c7983 http://sphinn.com/story/5432#c7981

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from TimDineen 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Sebastian, thanks for interlinking... I just thought I’d point out that Matt Cutts has recently replied on the other thread. http://sphinn.com/story/5310#c7990

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from RoseDesRochers 3541 Days ago #
Votes: -2

Also we should point out that Yahoo states they respect the nofollow tag yet many links using nofollow are shown in their searches. Danny- I apologize to you.

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from Sebastian 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Rose, the sole fact that a link appears in reverse citation results does not prove that it passes anything. That goes for Yahoo and Google as well.

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from JohnWeb 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think we need to clear up what Matt cleared up. He only stated that a link shown in the link: does not always pass any PageRank, it may but it also may not. Which has absolutely nothing to do with the question here. He is a cleaver one, isn’t he?

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from RoseDesRochers 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sebastion, I was stating just because a link is indexed does not mean it passes PR. Andy quoting you "Maybe your time would be more productively spent worrying about why people’s profiles on MyBlogLog link all the time to porn and warez - the "what is hot in my community" links." So the question here is does the javascipt link on BlogCatalog pass PageRank? I’m going with NO!

Avatar Moderator
from Sebastian 3541 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Rose, when you say that these BC links most probably don’t pass PageRank then you’re right. When you say that a link doesn’t pass PageRank just because it has an onclick trigger you’re wrong. Click tracking with onclick done right is perfectly safe with Google and doesn’t hinder the link to pass reputation. The BC links shouldn’t pass anything, at least not to the URL in HREF, because they raise a red flag: http://sphinn.com/story/5310#c8048

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 3540 Days ago #
Votes: 3

I’m going to cross post this, and I’m also going to be doing a little public moderation as part of it. I apologize for that, but it’s the best I can think of in handling this. To recap, Rose submitted this topic about BlogCatalog not passing PageRank: http://www.invision-graphics.com/ftopicp-135.html#135 For the record, I’ve never been to BlogCatalog before. It is apparently a directory of blogs on the web. Looks like you can submit. Looks free. And I gather there’s an issue of whether the links pass value because of onclick being used. That went hot. Well good. Sounds like an interesting issue for BlogCatalog in particular and on the topic in general. We had some discussion come out of that thread, and it looked pretty mellow. There were folks who disagreed with the facts of the article, but I didn’t see them coming after Rose in particular. And Rose came in and pushed back to argue for prove that the article was wrong. Good for you, Rose. But Rose, I’m sorry, you also started getting personal in that thread. LadyNada asks how things would look with I gather another blog directory, and you chide her with this: http://sphinn.com/story/5310#c7763 "Lady well this post is not about blogskinny. The post is about the fact that BlogCatalog does not pass PageRank. What of that is hard to comprehend?" At this point, the thread was touching on passing along link love in general. She wasn’t out of line to winder this, but asking what part is hard to comprehend sounds kind of insulting, like you thought she was dense. TimDineen asks later why you were so bitter about BlogCatalog. Well, borderline. I mean, he might have felt you were personally upset with it -- especially as he points out later that you’re looking at one directory in particular and that you had, indeed, jumped on LadaNada. OK, you later apologized to LadaNada (thank you), and I’m not sure if you were saying "bye bye" to Tim about whether you thought he should leave or you were. But I appreciate you didn’t start getting into it more with him. At this point, the thread had ended -- and I made edits in another topic, over here: http://sphinn.com/story/5432 That article that Andy submitted in response to your initial post. After responding to the points Andy had raised, you came along and said this: “Ps: Andy I dislike you greatly. Everyone else might think that you are all that and a bag of cjips, but this lady here thinks you are nothing more than a BC Guppy.” I’m sorry -- that was just uncalled for. At that point, it stepped way over what I thought was acceptable under the main rule I’ve asked people to follow here: http://sphinn.com/discussion.php “Be respectful and polite.” Arguments can get heated. Personal stuff can slip through. I can’t, nor can any of the mods or admins, go through an ensure that threads are completely free of personal attack. But this one, a deliberate PS that added no value? If you don’t like Andy, you tell him privately. The rest of us don’t need to hear it. I killed that. I killed a few things in response to you, as well. I cleaned it up, doing something that wasted time, but it goes with the territory. And I have to say, the vast vast majority of the time, it’s not something any of us have to do. Discussions have stayed civil. Now after that, you started peppering me with examples. Why’s this thread allowed: http://sphinn.com/story/5385 It’s about a picture of Matt dressed up in a cop suit that was kind of, well, revealing. Well, as I told you: "No, I’m not pulling that. There’s a difference between an article that someone has posted off our site and you just telling someone you don’t like them in the middle of a debate. In addition, knowing Matt fairly well, I highly doubt he’d be upset by that image." Hey Matt, if you’re upset, you let me know. Since then, you peppered me with more examples of stuff. Why, for example, was this post allowed: http://sphinn.com/story/5605 Where you felt you were being called a dumbass? To be specific, the article Greg wrote was about wanting a dumbass button, not that you in particular are a dumbass. Still, allow? If he came over in and in conversation with you said you were a dumbass, no. If he weren’t to have just called you -- and you alone -- a dumbass, yes. But this is about in generally wanting a way as Sphinn to indicate you dislike a story. At Digg, they call that buries, as I’m sure you know. We don’t have buries here. I disabled them when we started because I wanted to have a conversation with the community about them, in particular because so many SEOs on Digg feel they have stories that get buried for no good reason, and there’s no record of the buries. So maybe if we do buries, they should be open for all to view. But then again, there’s a good reason why you might want to private disagree with something. I think when I formally have that thread open, a lot of SEOs that feel Kevin Rose should open up buries might change their minds, when it means buries they do here might be open. I suspect the solution is like I told Greg -- we might have several buttons. If it’s spam, obvious spam, we want that gone. If someone disagrees with a post, they might want to vote it down. I don’t want to go with Lame to avoid the semi-personal nature there. So yes, I’m leaving this thread alone. In addition, there’s been more personal stuff all around. I’m not going back and cleaning it up. Instead, I’m pushing reset. I’m asking the community to step back, take a breath, and then come back and discuss the facts of topics without getting personal. Please.

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from g1smd 3540 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Cross-linking all the related threads: http://sphinn.com/story/5310 http://sphinn.com/story/5432 http://sphinn.com/story/5605 http://sphinn.com/story/5625 http://sphinn.com/story/5648

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from thegoodknife 3538 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Just wanted to update everyone: We have changed our click tracking this evening to a ’cleaner’ version. While there was no real evidence that our previous links weren’t passing PR, and a lot of the same claims can be made about the new links, we figured it couldn’t hurt to take the safer route. A big thanks for sebastian for digging up a real solution, something no else did.

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