Time To Count Your PageRank Losses

It’s all over the blogosphere (a word that I hate but hey, it works here) that PageRank has decreased for many sites recently, possibly due to them being penalized for buying links. Google isn’t confirming the reason right now. Normally we try not to comment on items that have been commented upon endlessly, but I’ll make an exception here since a very sweet reader asked for my opinion and, when informed that I wasn’t planning to write about it since everyone else was doing so already, he said that he wasn’t planning on reading anyone else’s opinion. He wanted mine, so here you go…and thanks Gene. You’ve obviously received the bribery check.

Here’s my crackpot theory: Google drops the PageRank for enough sites that it becomes noteworthy, bloggers take to the net and discuss/fume/rant for a bit, everyone speculates that it’s a paid link witchhunt, and fear of Google is renewed. Paid links become the next really dirty thing in SEO. Sites lose some of their “authority” and rush to spend more money in paid (Google) ads just to make a preemptive strike towards any potential loss of rankings and/or traffic. Google, as always, wins.

Google is a seriously cocky enterprise. Yes, they probably do deserve to be, but cockiness is always an ugly trait that usually gets worse and only very, very rarely gets better until something extremely humbling happens. Since we don’t really have a major contender in the engine world right now, I don’t expect the humbling to happen any time soon. So, with all of us freaking out about PageRank decreases, they can easily see that, once again, they have successfully scared the bejaysus out of all of us. This is bad because it makes them strut around like a mean little rooster. Note that, in the spirit of maturity (newfound, no less), I am not making any cock jokes. Not right now, at least.

I do believe that Google wants to prevent what they view as the buying and selling of authority, just as I do believe that they want to make the user experience the best possible. My issue with them is their motive for all of this…I certainly do not believe that they are simply seriously trying to make the net a better place just because they’re all decent people and it’s the right thing to do. If the recent PageRank decrease is, in fact, an effort to crack down on sites that buy links, why aren’t they coming right out and saying that? Because it imposes fear on people who might want to somehow try and work the system that THEY created. They’re not really big fans of exploitation you know. They built an algorithm based on promoting sites that had great inbound links. If they failed to imagine that people would exploit that, they’re bigger idiots than I thought previously.

Apparently many of the sites that are popular in Digg have had their PageRank lowered. What’s the motive HERE? As many people have pointed out, not all of the affected sites DO buy links. Many of them are, reputedly, being smacked because they are in some way associated with some potentially iffy interlinking. So the lesson here, one of fear again, is that you really should be careful about your associations. That sounds very high school doesn’t it? If you’re friends with this group, we’ll throw you out of the math club! OK that never happened but the fear of it still rings loudly in my head at times like this.

Overall, I don’t buy the notion that Google updates its algorithm for the benefit of humanity. I doubt that you do, either, of course, but since we all have to deal with Google, what can be done? You can’t simply ignore them. The alternatives are highly unattractive. If you keep doing what they say is big bad stuff, you’re going to risk having the rug pulled out from under you at some point. The best solution is to continue to find ways to hide it…as much as all the whitehats criticize blackhats, it’s times like this when they should be looking to them for advice. It’s not terribly difficult to hide the fact that your links are paid, after all. Hiding your interlinking blog schemes may be a bit tricky though…but someone will find a way, and it will be made public, and we’ll do it, and then they’ll catch it and there will be another update. THAT aspect of Google isn’t going away any time soon.

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15 Responses to “Time To Count Your PageRank Losses”

  1. erm what? I’m ill one day and I’ve missed a big PageRank update. Crap! Desperately been looking through all my clients sites and their rankings, phew, mine seem to be fine. But then again I am an angel white hat =) Google likes me….even though I’m set to “marry” a black hat..mwaaaa…

    Actually I find it quite amusing how everybody panics over this, mostly because it hasn’t affected me yet. Cough. I kind of think Google are just after making a SEOs job more difficult, ha! Actually I’m kind of glad of the update (don’t bombard me people), but it makes it worth being a white hat. We’ve always know buying links is not the best, and it was just a matter of time before this was included in an update. We just have to think of other ways, that’s why we like this industry right? Bring on the link baiting =) Hey 80% of SEO Chicks traffic is from referring sites =) Ok might not be 80% I just picked that out of the air, but it’s alot!

    Ok that was just one big ramble, what I meant to say was that I don’t know why everyone panics as it’s the same for all, basically EVERYONE that has loads of paid links will have a decreased PageRank. It’s only really bad if ALL you have done is build paid links, or?

    Anyway, I’m breezy….

    (that’s only funny if you watch Friends)

  2. Julie Joyce says:

    Lisa are you drunk again?

  3. erm no, but I wish I was. Does that count?

  4. Julie Joyce says:

    It’s not as fun as actually BEING drunk but yeah, I guess so. Especially if you’re at work.

  5. BizDev M says:

    “Sites lose some of their “authority” and rush to spend more money in paid (Google) ads just to make a preemptive strike towards any potential loss of rankings and/or traffic.”

    Curious, Julie – Have you seen a direct correlation between PR and SERP placement?

  6. g1smd says:

    *** Paid links become the next really dirty thing in SEO. ***

    Paid links have been dirty for a long time. Google gave people plenty warnings over the last 18 months or more to get out before the hammer fell…

  7. Julie Joyce says:

    You’re right about them giving plenty of warning…I still think that most people have bought links before, at least most major sites. I should say paid links are the current focus of Google’s nonstop crackdown on optimization.

    I have not personally seen any correlation between PR and SERP placement either. I think that site owners will see a decrease and immediately think they’ll see decreased rankings. Whether or not that is true, I have no idea. I have never worked on a site that’s experienced a decrease in PR. I HAVE worked on sites that were affected by the Florida update, and when the rankings fell those people spent a fortune in Google Adwords. It just seems like a convenient way for them to get you to spend some money with them. Then again, I can’t imagine they could NEED more money.

  8. imjuk says:

    Imagine Google doing something this nasty this close to Christmas – they’d never do that :p Anyone would think they’re trying to maximise their revenue from Adwords in the run up to the festive season

  9. Julie Joyce says:

    It’s hard to believe isn’t it? Scoundrels, all of them.

  10. [...] Google is like one big jigsaw puzzle, which means that it’s just so hard to figure out. This SEO Chick brought up a really good point about it. But among the blog posts I’ve read about this topic, [...]

  11. You can’t SAY you’re breezy, Lisa! That negates all breeziness! ;P

  12. lol Rebecca! Exactly, it’s referring to the Friends episode when Monica leaves a message actually saying “I’m breezy” and everyone says you can’t SAY you are breezy lol….Norwegian humour!

  13. Would you recommend us a good tool to check PR of all internal pages of our site?

    Thanks in advance.


  14. [...] Google is like one big jigsaw puzzle, which means that it’s just so hard to figure out. This SEO Chick brought up a really good point about it. But among the blog posts I’ve read about this topic, [...]

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