Dancing With The Gevil – Defamed By Google?

A number of my readers have noticed that Google have been making some minor adjustments to the displayed PageRank on a few sites, and Josh quite rightly pointed out that the displayed PageRank on this domain has for some reason been reduced.

Whatever change Google have made in the data held about my site, it doesn’t seem to have prevented any of my content ranking, and unfortunately it is impossible to say what data they are working on to begin with.
They could well be using a dataset from 1 year ago in their experimentation with some new algorithms, or just as easily some data from last week.

The Toolbar PageRank Trap

  • Google created PageRank
  • Google created a way for people to see PageRank
  • Google created a way for webmasters to access PageRank via API

Google seems determined to penalize anyone who mentions PageRank within their advertising as an indication of the value of the advertising or review service provided – essentially they are assuming that a mention of PageRank within such material means that the intention of the site owner is to sell PageRank.

I suppose that this assumption is the same as assuming that if a good looking female consultant, writer, TV presenter or speaker includes their photograph as part of their promotional materials, that the primary service they are providing is related to the sex industry.

Services such as PayPerPost, ReviewMe, Text Link Ads, Text Link Brokers & Sponsored Reviews do include Google PageRank among their listing and value criteria, and I do realize that a higher PageRank does make advertising more attractive to advertisers.
If you hadn’t noticed TV presenters, all things being equal, are often chosen based upon looks and not just intellect, lingual dexterity, and professional reputation.

Google themselves use PageRank within listings as a signal of quality. As an example, here is a page which contains a listing of SEO related blogs which have been selected for quality of content. The Google directory is an exported copy of the DMOZ directory, and inclusion within the SEO sections is highly prized.

Andy Beard Google Directory

PageRank could easily be looked on as an indication of INFLUENCE.

A blog with a higher PageRank might well have a lot less readers, but those readers will be more influential. As an example whilst Vanessa Fox no longer works for Google, and probably has far fewer subscribers that I do, I know she is a lot more influential.

Paid Post Arena Visibility

It is true I am highly visible in the paid posts arena, I have been included in a press release for PayPerPost, they listed me on Wikipedia and I have a prominent profile in their PPP Direct service (Ajax – no PageRank).

They even mentioned me in one of their promotional opportunities about PPP Direct, highlight that I had written a review about it, but there was absolutely no requirement for anyone to link through to me.

Despite the fact that PayPerPost list my PageRank among other metrics within their directory, I strongly believe that I am not “selling links” – I look on what I write as a form of consultancy, actually quite low paid consultancy considering the time I invest in the few site reviews I do accept.
The PayPerPost interface is a little limited in the specification and notification department, as are most enquiry forms for any business. As you would expect, a lot of additional discussion of requirements happens after an initial equiry, and within that discussion I insist that any links I provide will be editorial, with my own choice of anchor text.
That being said, I am SEO aware, I write articles frequently on how to give people useful anchor text, and if I determine I wish to highlight a particular web document, I am going to link to it using the best anchor text that I feel is appropriate.

In the Webmaster guidelines Google themselves state:-

A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you.

I am very comfortable explaining what I do in regards to paid reviews, I believe the content I create is of the highest quality, offers good value to my clients (I don’t like to look on it as advertising, though that is a component), and I also feel that if any of my clients were speaking with their competitors, they should feel quite comfortable pointing out the reviews I have made of their sites to their competitors.

In many ways being open and comfortable explaining what I do could be what has led to what seems to be a penalty in my displayed toolbar pagerank.

Only A Visible Penalty?

From what I can determine, the reduction in toolbar PageRank for this domain is the only thing which has happened.

  • My pages are being indexed frequently – in fact my content appears in Google’s index just minutes after it is published, and a large amount of my content is reindexed every few days because it is often being updated.
  • Google seems to be crawling everything – I can’t call this “deep crawling” because my site is actually very flat compared to most blogs, with the majority of pages no more than 2 clicks from the home page, and heavily interlinked.
  • Whilst Google no longer reports supplemental results pages directly, the difference between a standard “site:andybeard.eu/” search and “site:andybeard.eu/*” search is minimal, indicating that as much as 85% of my pages are in the primary index. I don’t block a fair number of my pages that might be regarded as duplicate content from being indexed. As Google representitives have stated many times supplemental results are mainly due to lack of PageRank being passed to the pages, and not due to duplicate content. It is true that duplicate content pages often have very few links, thus end up as supplemental results, but this is more a by product.
  • Most of my content appears to be ranking as well as it has ever ranked, actually in many cases better than many of my peers talking about the same products, publishing content around the same time.

Potential Unusual Factors

There are a number of potential unusual factors in the links I have received to this domain over the last 6 months which might be looked on by Google’s bots as possible things to flag, and I am going to list every single one of them, totally openly.

  • The Dofollow List or D List – My site was added to a list of Dofollow bloggers that grew and spread into a blogging meme. I didn’t add myself to the list, and I didn’t spread it in any way. The links I received from it were all very targeted as they were deep links to my list of Dofollow plugins, but without any useful anchor text.
  • Technorati Train – I had been exchanging Technorati favorites with my readers for some time, and Maki @ DoshDosh decided to do the same. I linked through from one of my posts to Maki, and Maki added me to a list of blogs that exchange favorites. That list was picked up and turned into another long meme from which I received a number of deep links.
  • Indexed Search Results – I have 2 or 3 pages on the site where I pick up an RSS feed of the last 100 links to a post on my blog, or someone else’s, cache the results so it isn’t constantly hitting the server, and output the results. In many ways this is almost identical to what Google provide their blogspot users in the form of “linkbacks” to their posts.
  • I have one page that pulls in search results on a specific keyword from Technorati, and again caches the RSS results, and outputs them to the page. The web page in question is very useful, in fact just as informative in many ways as a Mahalo search result – appropriate really because the topic is… Jason Calacanis – I have had some decent links to the page as well, from highly credible sources.
  • How do you differentiate between keyword stuffing on every page… and “Web 2.0″ ideas like tag clouds? I have growing tag clouds on the bottom of my single “post” pages – they are useful for users, and give me some SEO benefits for moving juice around, but at some stage, on some very busy posts, it might become a little excessive, and dilute the value of the content.
  • Dofollow – removing nofollow from comments in itself has risks for 3 primary reasons
    • Overall juice leakage – I have some pages with close to 200 external links, often to unrelated sites – those same pages might have 500 or more internal links to compensate but it does need to be considered on a busy blog.
    • I encourage people to use pingback or trackback when linking through to one of my posts, and encourage linking to posts rather than to my root domain. Unfortunately that is also a form of reciprocal linking between highly related pages on the web, because one page is invariably discussing the same topic as the other.
    • Linking to low quality domains – I moderate comments and trackbacks quite ruthlessly and apply my comments policy – I am sure some low quality sites slip through, but in general I know the blogs of most of the peole who link to me and who comment
  • David Airey was recently having some problems possibly due to some links he sold, or maybe due to the birthday competition and specifying anchor text. I donated a prize to the competition – prize givers were not given any real indication on how the competition was going to be run, although David did ask for us to provide a description of how we wanted to be linked from his page – I am not criticizing David over this, and my rankings for particular terms which people decided to copy and paste have increased – it is a lot like article marketing and author resource boxes – is article marketing with a resource box soon going to give you a Google penalty? I doubt it, which is why I am surprised over Google’s attitude.
  • I have one link out there for a large donation I made to a WordPress Plugin author – the link was offered freely after the donation was made, and the place being linked to and the anchor text is totally logical. I seem to remember links for charitable donations, or I suppose other donations are not what Google are meant to be targeting, but if the links look the same as a list of paid links, with a PayPal button underneath, I am sure Googlebot and even a human inspection might misinterpret why a link was given. I will be restarting donations to plugin authors soon – I paused it partially due to it being overshadowed by other WordPress development competitions which were also giving links to sponsors on high ranking domains, and supported by Automattic.
  • I have some links from some of my other domains pointing to this site, to relevant content, or to meet legal requirements in the UK
  • I have content being syndicated, both with permission and without. It generally contains links to the original article – I don’t hunt down people syndicating my content, and I publish it under GPL, so I can only require some kind of attribution, such as a link anyway.
  • I started a meme back in January to boost awareness for MyBlogLog communities of quality blogs – I have seen even Google employees take part in blogging memes that offer some value

Paid Reviews or Consultation or Selling PageRank?

I don’t sell links on any of my domains for a number of reasons, but if I was going to include unrelated links if anything it would be to my own niche sites. To my knowledge I have never clicked on a link labeled “Sponsored Links” though I have clicked on links that were display advertising. If I was to sell display advertising I would have it running through a tracking script.

Here is a full list of the paid reviews I have written on this blog

So I have written 9 reviews, and turned down as many or more, some of which weren’t very relevant, but mainly because I didn’t have time… time for me is the biggest factor, it is what I believe people are paying me for. All links I give in such reviews are editorial

My readers seem to enjoy my paid reviews. I don’t think I have ever had a negative comment, in fact much the opposite many readers have linked to my reviews as an example of how such reviews can add to a blog, and to the web as a whole.

Plea Bargaining

Google have an attitude that if they decide you are guilty of some misdemeanor based upon their guidelines, you get a penalty.

Guilty until proven innocent?

The penalty I seem to have received is a major drop in my visible PageRank, and based upon the ranking of some of the sites I have linked to for certain phrases, may also have affected my ability to pass PagerRank and other ranking factors… globally, not just on a per page or per link basis.

The standard procedure to have some kind of penalty lifted is to fix whatever you have done wrong (in Google’s eyes), and submit a re-inclusion request through their webmaster console.

Unfortunately this isn’t really guilty until proven innocent, it is more like guilty until you repent.

If some slimy snake-oil SEO has discredited your site with various practices that Google doesn’t approve of, you eventually have a chance of re-inclusion, as long as you admit you did something wrong, rectify the problem, and vow never to do it again.

But what happens if you think you have done absolutely nothing wrong?

PayPerPost Is My Payment Processor

I use PayPerPost as my payment processor for the review / consultancy services I provide as an alternative to using PayPal or Google Checkout. They do take a small additional fee, but they also provide a very useful escrow service, and provide me with traffic. PayPerPost are certainly within my top50 referrers every single day and I believe it is targeted traffic.
I receive probably as much traffic daily from PayPerPost as I receive from other services… per month, though I know I am lucky to be a featured blogger, and that other bloggers might not receive as much traffic from the PayPerPost Direct site.

I have had someone show disrespect for my blog for displaying the PayPerPost logo, actually it was someone who used to write for DownloadSquad after I criticized them quite strongly for complaining about splogs, and then linking to the culprit… without using nofollow, just like The Guardian in their recent interview.

What would happen if Google decided in the future that PayPal isn’t a “trusted” payment processor, and is a poor quality signal?

Surely Google can’t give me a penalty for displaying my payment processor on my blog?

Quality Symbol Not Indication Of Ability To Pass Juice

The general public look on the little green bar on the Google Toolbar as a signal of quality, that is what Google tell them.

Here it is in Google’s own words

Wondering whether a new website is worth your time? Use the Toolbar’s PageRankâ„¢ display to tell you how Google assesses the importance of the page you’re viewing.

But a penalty on my visible Toolbar PageRank isn’t what Google are telling their users. Google users think my content is of less value, and has less authority. They don’t understand that Google also apply modifiers to the green bar which may be for reasons other than quality.

My content is still ranking in Google, thus Google still looks on my content as being the same quality.

The Google PageRank currently being displayed to my visitors is a deliberate manufactured lie to my visitors.

It is also a lie to potential advertisers – I don’t sell links, but I do sell my authority, and my hopefully increasing PageRank was a positive signal of quality relative to my increasing status withing Internet marketing and Search Engine Marketing.

Tarred & Feathered By Google

Google are going the route of humiliation as a deterrent to people using services such as PayPerPost, both bloggers writing content, and advertisers (PayperPost advertisers include corporations such as Ford Motor Company)

I am not going to defend the position of “Paid Links” which take 3 seconds to approve. That is an advertising value vs gaming search engines debate, and is not something I am involved in, not even under cover.

I spent over an hour on Skype with a colleague last night, about 3am because I just happened to be at my computer, giving him some reassurance on something SEO related. Before the conversation he asked how to pay me, and my consultancy rate. I don’t do that kind of SEO consultancy, it is not part of my current or even future business model.
I am sure however if I had stated $60 or even $100 per hour, I probably would have ended up with some work with his client just monitoring things. I could probably charge a lot more within more specialist niches where I have more experience.
If I spend 5 hours or more on a review on this blog and get some financial compensation, it doesn’t cover the value of my time, so how the hell can it be looked on as selling links just to game the search engines.

The money is just a token gesture, a way to filter requests so that people think about relevance.

At this time I am not worried about the 15,000 visitors Google send to my blog every month.

Google are attacking my personal brand, my business, and my integrity.

It Is Not Just My Domain

I have checked a number of domains that appear to have had an unusual decrease in Google Toolbar PageRank. I am not going to name them as I don’t believe that is the right approach to take.
Just as I have over the last 6 months, since April, each of those sites has continued receiving quality inbound links, but seems to have been hit with a penalty.

Lets Just Assume This Is A Mistake From Google

If Google had hit my rankings at the same time, then this label they have placed on my site as being of poorer quality might have been justified, but as ranking prominence has remained, it is a false representation of my site’s value.

I don’t think really think Google intended to defame me so I am going to keep cool and see if they fix the problem over the next week or so. Who knows they might even decide to issue a public apology to those they have been misrepresenting to their users.

For previous coverage, please refer to my posts about Google Paid Links, and the highly informative Gevil

Edit – I made a mistake with the Gevil link, it should have been to the .org

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Comments

  1. says

    Andy, ironically, thanks for the link. For the longest time I defended Google when people started bashing them. You’re not “bashing” them, but proving some points. These days, I’m really starting to have doubts about their priorities. I completely understand that they need to constantly work on their algorithm to keep the relevance high, but as you stated above, it seems you’re guilty until proven innocent.

    You know much more about this than I, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the reviews you’ve done, which is really a stupid thing to penalize you for, as they are very minimal and provide quality.

    I like how they have you listed in the top 10 for SEO blogs in their own directory, but then turn around and do this. Looks like a double-standard to me. Are they recommending you or not?

    If you’re ability to pass PR were stripped, I supposed you wouldn’t be able to pass PR to your own pages? If that’s the case, it could be catastrophic! I think you’ll figure that out very quickly though.

    In any case, you have loads of loyal readers and no matter what Google does, they can’t take you down. We’ll all be here supporting you ;)

    • says

      Josh, that screen capture is a little deceptive maybe, but if you look at the page I linked to unfortunately I am only top30 on the list, and it is far from comprehensive.
      It is another quality signal, but not such a huge one as people think.
      The funny thing is that PR5 and PR6 seem to be shown as if they are identical in the Google directory, at least at my screen resolution.

      I don’t think it has prevented the passing of PR internally, and the evidence I have for external is fairly inconclusive, based mainly on a drop for the Dofollow community to which I have lots of links.

  2. says

    First, I take issue with Google’s position that all paid links – “paid” meaning links that were compensated for one way or another for whatever reason – should be discounted.

    There are some paid links that are clearly out to game Google. I have no problem with those links being devalued/ignored. But there are also paid links that are highly editorial, with no intent to manipulate search results. Those types of paid links improve Google’s user experience.

    Paid/unpaid is only one of many quality signals – it should not be a deciding factor in determining link value.

    Second, I haven’t seen any evidence to believe that your site was intentionally penalized by Google. Let’s keep in mind the obvious: Google is a collection of algorithms with no mind of its own. Just like a piece of software, even Googlers don’t have complete control over how those algorithms behave. It’s like breaking a rack of 9-ball. Even the guy breaking doesn’t have complete control over where all the balls end up because there are simply too many factors involved.

    If some sites that are linking into you violates Google’s trust by manipulative linking practices, the PageRanks flowing into your domain will shrink, even if you yourself did nothing wrong.

    If your TBPR used to be borderline 5 (e.g. 5.01) and your TBPR dips by a fraction (4.99) you will see a drop from 5 to 4, though in actuality you’ve only lost .02 TBPR.

    As the web grows bigger, every URL’s TBPR shrinks. Even if Google doesn’t devalue any of your backlinks, you can lose TBPR just because the number of pages in Google’s index increased.

    I have not bought into Google/SEO’s FUD campaigns aimed to make me believe that selling links leads to a penalty. When faced with the unknown, people sometimes assume the worst.

  3. says

    Halfdeck, back in January, this site was already a PR5 based on a 301 from an old blog, and a fair amount of quality links. I had just 100 subscribers.

    In April it was still a PR5, I had picked up a lot of link.

    Since April I have continued gaining links… quality editorial links from quality sites.

    I am well aware that PageRank is just an algorithm based upon the collective whole as are maybe some of Google’s other algorithms.

    Technorati report I have gained something like 12,000 links in the last 6 months, which is about when the last update happened.

    Google report 39804 links within the Webmaster Console, and yes I realize that that is not a real total, and that it includes nofollow link and links that are discounted.

    I have a bunch of quality links among that. Techcrunch, Scoble, SEL, WordPress codex, Techsmith, Calacanis, Mahalo (cough), Dmoz, Google Directory, Shoemoney, Problogger, Copyblogger, Adage, PayPerPost, Marketing Pilgrim

    No disrespect to anyone reading this who links to me, I value every link and comment

    This isn’t the typical link profile that might suggest a site that isn’t at least maintaining a status quo.

    I have also looked at a number of other domains that are fairly prominent for paid reviews, not just JC, and they have also experienced a dip despite some pretty serious link building over the last 6 months.

  4. says

    Andy,

    This post truly makes me see red. I’ve been seeing red about Google for a little while now. I think what Google are doing is simply illegal.

    If you feel the need to take legal action over this I’d just like you to know I’d be willing to donate some $$$ towards the costs. It won’t be a huge amount because I’m not rich, but I do believe someone needs to take a stand. I’m probably not the only one who would be willing to donate.

    I cannot believe that Google can be so hypocritical. Are they penalizing people using Adsense for paid links? Of course not.

    They want the entire pie, and they’re not willing to share.

    I think it is time we bloggers got serious about not relying on them. We simply can’t trust them to act in a fair manner. They can do what they like when they like, and there seems to be nobody sticking up for the bloggers.

    A big thumbs down, Google. A huge one. If you annoy enough people, we’re going to take our power back one of these days. We’ll start using other search engines. We’ll stop using your services. Think about what you are doing to people – think about the anger and resentment you are creating by being hypocrites. We the users created you – we can just as easily break you.

    Snoskred

  5. says

    Andy, you have a solid, organic link profile. It does look like some of your backlinks were devalued. It still doesn’t explain why your backlinks were devalued. It also doesn’t tell me if the devaluation was manual or algorithmic.

    “I have also looked at a number of other domains that are fairly prominent for paid reviews, not just JC, and they have also experienced a dip”

    That doesn’t tell me anything unless I see a comprehensive list of all blogs that publish paid reviews and see what percentage of those blogs lost TBPR. And if some of those blog have TLA or embedded TLBroker blog post links on them, then it muddies the water even more.

    You said your index penetration level is steady and your ranking hasn’t suffered. If your site really suffered a huge loss of PageRank, you should of course be seeing a way bigger percentage of pages in the supplemental results.

    If you’re implying that Google is just toying with your toolbar rank, that sounds a little far-fetched to me.

    Also, in fairness to absolute objectivity, a paid review like this

    http://andybeard.eu/2007/05/seo-consulting.html

    where you link to a site six times, often with laser-targeted anchor text – that feels unnatural to me. Even if I was head over heels about a site, I wouldn’t link to the same site that many times in one blog post. 2-3 times maybe, but 6? You got “seo consultant”, “about page”, “seo basics”, “seo” (those links to seo/seo basics category pages – could be just me, but I link to individual articles, never to a blogger’s cat page), “link building”, and “landing pages.”

    As far as you’re providing a service to a paying customer, I don’t see a problem with linking to a site 100 times in one post, but how can you claim that the links in that post are completely editorial? If you weren’t paid, would you have linked to him 6 times in one post? Would you have linked to him at all?

    I wouldn’t have. The guy’s “seo consulting” page, for example, is cryptic, to say the least. Unless I worked in SEO I wouldn’t understand a single word written on that page. He isn’t selling SEO to SEOs – he is selling consulting services to webmasters who may know nothing about SEO. Compare his site to Eric Ward’s site, for example, which is extremely easy to understand.

    • says

      Halfdeck, I am compiling some additional evidence, but I won’t be publishing that in public, I might drop it to a few people in an email.

      Shimon’s was tough, and I do acknowledge that I am dancing along the line between something being totally white, and some shade of gray which is more like advertising, especially with that review.

      The review was through sponsored reviews who do not have any chat interface, so I had to first of all get permission to contact the client direct as nothing was specified regarding that in the rules.
      Initially he was also looking for an overall review of the site, and not just the content although content was specified.

      What was offered was something along the lines of my SEO Masterclass. It might have given him more traffic, but it would also have been quite critical, as it would for most SEO blogs, even mine. People have little time to perfect things and might disagree on some things, such as SEO friendly URLs.

      Shimon asked me just to do the content review.

      Maybe all my linking is unnatural, throughout the whole blog.

      I don’t link to Lyndon with “you might enjoy this [post]”
      I link to him as “you might enjoy this post on [linkbait]”

      Shimon’s whole site is heavily optimized for SEO Consultant, and if he left a comment here using that text as the anchor, as long as it linked to his blog (the one I reviewed) he would get away with it, because that is what the blog is about, the blog represents him clearly and is not a group effort, etc.

      You know in absolute honestly, Shimon would have been quite happy with a post such as

      “Shimon is an SEO Consultant, you might like his blog”

      I could have written a 10 word post, and he would have received more traffic, I guarantee it.

      I didn’t link to individual posts, because his individual posts are actually quite short. The sum is greater than the individual parts.

      My own reading preference is for long posts that go into detail and that is the type of individual post I link to.

      At the time of the review, Shimon’s rate was $60 per hour, and as this was around the same time as Rand published his big list of SEO salaries, that was remarkably low.

      So I opted to link to a few categories, and my natural inclination isn’t to write “You might enjoy this, this and this category”, I use descriptive words.

      The link to the about page is quite funny – the reason I gave the link was because I had read at the time that Darren Rowse gets the most traffic to his “About Me” page.
      I thought Shimon’s was reasonable because it highlighted some of the significant firms he has worked for.

      On a “like for like” consulting rate, what I get paid for reviews would be worth 2 hours of my time. I did actually spend a lot more time than that evaluating Shimon’s site before I even put fingers to keyboard contacting him.

      The final content isn’t as good as some of my other pieces, but it could have been.

      I agree that Eric is a good example of being up front with his fees, but many of the sites in the industry don’t. A nice clean $60 per hour is much better than some of the packages some firms offer. Rates have gone up now, Shimon must be gaining some work.

      I also disagree that everyone looking for SEO work is an outsider. Every person who has approached me so far had some knowledge of SEO already.

      I am well aware that TBPR is taken from a snapshot, and real PR fluctuates in real time. I am comparing rankings for terms back over 6 months which I know the rankings for.

      So I am comparing terms such as:-
      Volusion
      Day job killer
      Wordpress htaccess (this article might be a little too new)
      Wordpress Trademark (there I am competing with one of my own sites)
      Google meta redirects
      Meta redirects

      One of the problems is that my site structure over the intervening 10 months since some of that content was written has become flatter

      It is very hard to say something is purely based upon writing paid reviews, because almost every site is also selling links other than me.

  6. says

    Andy, I’m running a quick-and-dirty link audit on your site with a new tool I’m building, but in the meanwhile, let me make a slight correction.

    I said if your ranking hasn’t changed, then you haven’t lost much PageRank. That’s not entirely right. Toolbar update effects only one thing: the green in your toolbar. Updates have no effect whatsoever on your ranking, traffic, or number of pages indexed. That’s because as you know, internal PageRank is calculated daily, and the effects of any dramatic PageRank shifts that might have taken place have been in effect for quite some time now. So seeing no change in those factors doesn’t say anything about the amount of PageRank directed at your site.

  7. says

    I have observed as an interested and now, as a disinterested but sad, management professional a phenomenon that is as common as should not be. That is the nice small businesses becoming big and starting to throw their weight around. I am sure many of the visitors to this site will bear with me, that in this industry this phenomenon has been more frequent than in the smoke stack and service sector, but happen it does withoug fail.

    Size brings about arrogance and paranoia.

    Andy, there is little that I can do to help you. I however assure you that I sympathize with you and am solidly behind you in this David vs Goliath situation. All the best.

  8. says

    Yesterday I noticed my blog dropped from a PR4 to a PR3. And all of my posts are now PR0. If making money through links or posts is the culprit then that explains it. Because my blog is a make money blog. I’m thinking this might be google’s way of weeding out the spam sites and/or reducing the amount of people who are making money with their blogs. It doesn’t really bother me, like I said on my post, it might be a good thing, for me anyway. :)

  9. says

    I will not be surprised to get my PR lowered. I think we are just putting too much spin on the entire PR issue. What I really notice lately that Google is very quick to index pages. Also the traffic from the organic search is on the rise for me. I do not mind if the lower my PR as long as they continue send my way visitors.

  10. says

    Google had to do something about the paid links and they had to do it fast. Unfortunately for everyone, you can do things fast or you can do things right.

    Will we have pagerank now or trustrank?

    Paying someone to write about your site shouldn’t ever be penalized. Journalists go on junkets all the time.

  11. says

    Andy, I’ll be brutally honest with you and I hope you don’t mind.

    Just a few millimeters above this comment box I see this: Get Paid Just For Linking To Me.

    In other words, you will pay me $7,50 if I link to you.

    That’s an obvious paid link.

    You can try your best to defend this with whatever you want (like you defended your 6 laser targeted links to the SEO consultant in your reply above) but it actually doesn’t really matter what you think or how you interpret your links.

    It’s what Google thinks about them.

    If you RELY on Google, then you HAVE to play their game and how THEY interpret the rules.

    • says

      Tomaz I also allow people to use laser targeted links when they leave a comment or a trackback.
      I teach people how to give better links, thus naturally I would tend to give better targeted links than normal sites.

      I do however see your point regarding the review my post affiliate links. That is an affiliate program.
      Instead of earning $15 for an affiliate signup, I only get $7.50 and the aim is to give someone something relevant to write about, and to earn $7.50 for it for something they would do anyway.

      With a total of $22.50 from 3 reviews earned through that program, I don’t think that is even a ripple.
      The RMP program converts terribly

      The important message is that I don’t rely on Google. I stated in the article if Google cut off my traffic totally that might have been a correct signal to give the public.

      However nothing has touched my rankings or traffic, thus it could be looked on as a public smear campaign because I can’t opt out of their toolbar, and Google’s toolbar isn’t telling the truth.

      Google have switched it from meaning an indication of what other authority sites think of my site, to an indication of what juice my site can give to other sites.

      Unfortunately they forgot to tell the general public that the meaning of the toolbar green is now different.

  12. says

    Hi Andy,

    As Vlad mentioned, perhaps there’s too much emphasis on Page Rank. I’ve read lately that Google might be doing away with it entirely, although there might not be any truth in that.

    What’s important, is how you rank for relevant terms, and you mention that your rankings have improved for some searches.

    I can understand what you’re saying about your regular readers noticing your PR drop, and that it’s almost like a vote down, but your regular readers appreciate the quality content you publish, so it’s not going to affect their opinion of you. My opinion anyway.

  13. Toby says

    All “Blog-Whores” that even show buttons and links to those sites will be penalized by Google automatically. You will have a a white page rank in the long-term, of course.

  14. says

    “You can try your best to defend this with whatever you want (like you defended your 6 laser targeted links to the SEO consultant”

    To be fair, I wasn’t attacking Andy’s business practices. The linking practices are way blacker than Andy’s. I’m not going to sugarcoat that. My point was that on initial scan, the links didn’t pass the smell test, not for me at least. With a Google reviewer, I doubt anyone gets a chance to clarify.

    Anyway, it looks like your suspicions were right on the mark Andy. What Google’s doing with the toolbar is idiotic.

  15. says

    Well you see this is a 5 day old story in some quarters, and a lot of good sites that have been hit.

    Many of them are earning $10K+ per year from links and posts, and one click down on their PR isn’t actually going to change very much, especially with PPP moving over to their own metrics.

    The only way for this approach to work is to kill the TBPR on all the sites, and even all the traffic. Just PPP bloggers that is 50K Bloggers.

    If they have their traffic taken away, I am sure 50K bloggers can probably get the traffic by other means.

    Followup post coming with some more analysis (but no snitching)

  16. says

    Andy,

    Great analysis. I’ll look for the follow-up shortly. I want to get your opinion of top bloggers (I won’t name names either) that have google-legitimate thumbnail ads, but provide a monthly “thank you” link, without a nofollow attribute, in a post. As a potential advertiser, I would see this and understand that I will get this great link as part of my ad placement, even if it is not stated specifically in my placement agreement. It is my opinion that these links are bought and paid for just as much as a review link, and if google penalizes for paid reviews, they must penalize for these links as well to be consistent.

    Note – I am not opposed to ads, reviews, paid links at all. I just see a) hypocrisy and b) potential for abuse if google does not address the issue one way or the other.

    Tim

  17. says

    Just for the record, I first lose my PR5/10 on Oct 4th and over the next two days, I lost PR -1 in six of my blogs. I suppose I am famous enough to be noticed by Google. LOL, a lot of other sites did not get the penalty eventhough they write paid posts and sell text links.

  18. says

    Last year, my biggest blog dropped from a PR 6 to a 4. Now that I think about it, it was shortly after I added Text Link Ads code to the site. It could be a coincidence (I’ve seen sites drop in PR before for no particular reason), and the traffic never went down (and in fact has increased), but with all the stuff that’s been going on lately on the buying-and-selling-links debate, I do wonder if that had anything to do with it.

    Even though the $150 a month or whatever is pretty insignificant compared to earnings from other programs, it seems a shame to bow to Google’s tyranny and remove the links just because of these threats. :\

  19. says

    I just think it’s absurd that people who put out good content have to spend so much time defending themselves and their sites like this.

    This whole argument I was just thinking “Andy’s blog rocks. His content is over the top in quality for his educational posts and I’ve learned a lot reading here.” That’s not BS. I know all the blogs in this niche – good and bad – we track them all. This one is in the top for quality, thoughtful, insightful writing.

    Andy does a way better job than me with descriptive, patient posting for clarity. This comment is going to be 10 times longer than my average post for instance. :)

    So why no one can see that Google IS NOT the savior of the web and quality search results, but rather, is holding the web community back from what they do best (creating more quality content) because we have to spend so damn much time protecting ourselves from a stupid all-inclusive algorithm is beyond me.

    Google is taking a deliberate and lazy shortcut by having us all turn on each other, nark out each other, and casting huge nets to catch a relative handful of spammers who wouldn’t rank at all if Google would just join the web and allow user ratings to affect their rankings. You can’t SEO for people! We smell BS a mile away and we dont care what is in your freakin title tag!

    Leaving everything up to an algorithm without including the human element is why we are all in this position right now with pagerank.

    It isn’t harmless either. For Andy’s reasons above and others I have been on about for years, Pagerank can hurt online businesses that are providing true service and who are not in any way damaging the web by occasionally linking a certain way.

    They Say Content Is King – Why Don’t They Start Acting Like It?

    Either the content is good or not when people get to a site and if Google would allow human ranking to in some way enter their algo, a lot more (overly optimized, valuless) sites in the top 10 would vanish while google’s goal of relevancy based on good content would finally be realized.

    Everyone is so damn worried about a thumbs up or down button going with Google’s rankings like people are going to spam with it. NEWSFLASH: people are already spamming google, so what’s the harm in trying to fix what’s been broken since the beginning?

    Let the surfer have at least a minor say about the sites they like and stop trying to shove sites down our throats and hiding sites that are truly more relevant than the ones in the top rankings from people who’d appreciate viewing them.

    I don’t believe Google is actively “treating” you a certain way Andy. Their rules written into their algo are simple commands written from a screwed up perspective and they weren’t MEANT to catch you or I up in all this, but they have.

    It’s not intentional, but it’s still evil if they continue to ignore the damage it is causing the people who fill their engine with the content they thrive on.

    Google knows how long people stay on our sites and how many pages they view. They KNOW we are quality in one area of the Googleplex, yet in the engineering department they are totally clueless about what a quality site is and how to keep one from ending up in an unfair demotion with all the spammers and link whores.

    They really need to address this immediately. I’m not riding on Google’s freakin’ space elevator if they can’t even fix their search engine problems.

  20. says

    Mine went from a 4 to a 3. I’m really not worried about it since most of my money is made via affiliate marketing. I mainly do affiliate marketing that on my other websites.

    Occasionally I write paid posts if I think my readers would benefit but those reviews are rare and when I do them they are thorough. I treat them like a regular post.
    I had a feeling mine would drop so I’m not too surprised. I picked up one direct advertiser two months ago. It’s a service that many of my readers use which is why they are on my website.

    I had not idea mine had even dropped until I read that one of my blogging buddies had. I really don’t pay too much attention to my PR. I did check after reading their comment and I noticed mine had dropped also. It does not seem to have affected my traffic

  21. says

    I am annoyed at this, it’s not like they have come out and said, if you link to TLA or PPP we will dock you 1 PR point. This whole thing really makes me think that Google shoudl rethink the whole PageRank thing.

    That all being said my site was reduced from a PR5 to a PR4 , and I have one PPP post and TLA ads on the home page.

  22. says

    They are making it so hard for us small guys to get a page rank at all – I am way down on the list while these lame pages that have been there for a while but are totally unprofessional are high up on the list.

  23. says

    1. We are dependent on Google for traffic
    2. Google depends on backlinks to rate a site
    3. Anything that distorts 2., Google will penalize.

    Google has made its own problem. PR has created a big business selling PR.

    Solution: Do what traditional marketers have been saying all along, and find ways to promote your site outside the SEs. Then their traffic will be a happy bonus, rather than essential.

  24. says

    Hi Andy- thanks for the excellent and well thought out post and arguments FOR services like PayPerPost.

    To play Gevil’s Advocate- If a site (like PPP) is offering a fee to post and the fee is based entirely on Page Rank (and sometimes Alexa traffic) then why can’t it be interpreted as paying for page rank?
    A post coming from PPP on a PR3 site may cost advertiser 10.00 and the SAME post on PR5 is 50.00.

    Why wouldn’t Google seeing this as gaming PR?

    Thanks,
    Lisa

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