Google PageRank: Joke Of The Blogosphere?

Andy Greenberg of Forbes got it totally wrong when he wrote Google Scares The Search Crowd

In many ways Google should be a little worried about the blogosphere reaction.

I was the centre of attention more by chance and timing than anything else, as I am sure it wouldn’t have taken my worthy SEO colleagues long to make a list of sites that have been hit by PageRank penalties and spot some patterns.

As almost everyone discussing PageRank updates was linking to me, and I was trying to keep up with the Blogstorm, moderating trackbacks and comments, and even trying to respond both here and elsewhere, I gained true insight into the sentiment of the blogosphere.

  • I didn’t read about anyone being scared
  • I didn’t see anyone being apologetic
  • I saw very few people wholly in support of Google’s stance

What I did see was

  • Disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Rumours
  • Outrage
  • Sarcasm
  • Mature Discussion
  • Balanced reporting

But the most striking was:-


In many ways Brian was the first to set the tone, simply thanking Google for revealing the truth, that they shouldn’t be relied on for anything.

Then Mike followed up with what I can only hope is Matt Cutt’s outfit for this Halloween.

Matt Above The Waist

For the full picture, and a very entertaining post, you are going to have to go visit.
Also noteworthy was a link from The Guardian to Mike, and well deserved.

Seo Refugee had obviously thought Matt was taking rather drastic action.

What was Matt wearing

But what is Matt Cutt’s wearing?

It continues…

I think the collective feelings of the blogsphere are most aptly portrayed by the collective initiative happening on Problogger right now.

Competition: Create a Slogan for Bloggers Hit by the Page Rank Slam of October 07

Here are just a few of the early entries

From Meg at Blogpond


From Bloggers Journey

Google Slapped Me, It's a great honor

Gyutae Park at Winning The Web


Michael Beck

Google Snakes and Ladders

Darren is taking text and video submissions as well, for a full 24hrs and there are already over 60 entries.

No one is doing this for the prize, it is minimal compared to the amount of work involved in creating these images.
Whilst I would love to include them all, I don’t want to take anything away from this effort and brilliant idea from Darren and the rest of the B5 media team.

Whilst there hasn’t been a definitive statement yet other than those I mentioned in my previous post, I take this to be a statement of PRIDE.

Andy Greenberg,
Bloggers Are NOT SCARED
They Are Defiant

On a sadder note, I feel that Matt Mullenweg is losing touch with the blogosphere.

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  1. says

    While I do find all the content above hilarious, I think we should all remember that PageRank is what has made Google one of the worlds largest companies.

    Many bloggers seem to be taking the stance “who cares about Google anyways” which is probably not the best strategy :)

    It was the main focus of Larry and Sergei’s original paper ( and I’m sure it still does play a large factor in trust of content.

    • says

      There are 2 major aspects of this I haven’t actually explored deeply yet.

      I am fully aware of the importance of various forms of Google Juice, one of my main forte’s is WordPress SEO after all.

      At the end of the day Google needs publishers just as much as publishers need Google, but the difference is publishers have alternative sources of revenue and traffic.

    • dann404 says

      “I think we should all remember that PageRank is what has made Google one of the worlds largest companies.”

      I don’t argue with that, the problem is that meaningless little green bar. Can you think of one reason to publish such a thing.
      Why was it that it was wrong to install the Alexa toolbar?
      Agh, it’s spyware they say. What Alexa never did was profile everything you do on the net and connect it to you through Webmaster Tools, email accounts, searches, auto queries, Google Analytics(yes you leave tracks there too) and now whether or not you no follow links.
      AOL at one time was unstoppable, look at them now, most people are even appalled at the idea of having a free email address with
      Google creates absolutely no content of it’s own, now it’s going to punish high PR sites that rake them in alot of cash, if I was Google I’d be scared.
      Hmm, maybe we should charge Google every time Googlebot rips off our content>??

  2. says

    I really feel for everyone that has been hit – particularly (what I perceive to be) “authority” blogs like yours and Darren’s. Was it Shoe Money that said “don’t make a fool of Google”? I can’t help but think that they’re doing a good enough job of that themselves…. And their silence is deafening.

    I think it’s all so ludicrous that you just have to laugh… There are some good submissions over at ProBlogger. One that made me laugh was from Matt Jones “The bar is always greener on the other blog”.

    Thanks for the mention. I did a brief post (which also links to “bohica” for those not familiar with the term).

  3. says

    Great round up, Andy, and thanks for the link back.

    When Jaan told me he’d submitted the pic to Matt for consideration for his Halloween costume, my initial reaction was “aww crap” but now I think “What the heck. What’s the worse thing that couple happen? A little slap never hurt anyone”.

    At least that what my local Tory MP told me, anyway…

  4. says

    That’s an hilarious collection Andy, I just linked it ;)
    I didn’t know what bohica stood for until I looked in Google(bend over here it comes again).

    I think Google might be shooting themselves in the foot with this kind of public slapping, particularly when there’s no clear explanation for the “mischief” – I am talking of cases such as problogger and copyblogger who have enough links outside of B5 and are well respected. While some networks certainly take advantage of links for their own members and seek to get the most of it from Google, it’s a natural thing that those blogs should interlink fairly often for traffic reasons- remember weblogs inc blogroll in 2003/2004? It’s Google job to devaluate those links if it finds them not worthy, not to slap those involved.
    What happened to “make sites as if google didn’t exist?”

  5. says

    To think I inspired the Matt Cutts picture by Mike oh well in for a penny in for a pound :) personally I think Matt should go with the grim reaper look though with a skeleton pigeon on his shoulder in homage to Pratchett and to pigeon rank the most sensible metric to come from Google.

  6. says

    This will be the same Matt Mullenweg who plasters adsense over blogs, but hides it from the blog owners – Check out the interesting, if one sided, ‘WordPress Wank’ blog.

    ‘Mullenweg & Google sitting in a tree. K.I.S.S….’


  7. says

    While the humor is a good way to handle what rankles, what is amazing is the silence from Google. Every one is talking about this and other perceived unilateralism by them and they are not even bothered to do some damage control! Have they become completely insensitive?

    • says

      Google has always tightly guarded any kind of information to do with their algorithm changes.

      I remember events like the “Florida” update a few years back that had a much greater impact on the webmaster community than this silly change! :D

      I wouldn’t say they’ve “become” anything – this is nothing new and I totally expect zero reaction from Google. :)

  8. says

    Well, What can be done about it? nothing. Google has grown into such a big monopoly in current times that only thing we can have is hope. Only if someone can come out with a more transparent ranking system which cannot be gambled easily….*sigh

  9. says

    Great post. Will there ever be a reply from the famously tight lipped Google from any official channel (meaning not Matt Cutt’s blog).

    Nothing like a bit of a PR mistake on the part of Google. Yahoo and MSN should be jumping at this chance to do something better than Google for a change.

  10. says

    Google has ALWAYS identified it’s “customers” as those who search, not those who are found via search.

    As a result, they will continue to act like the 900 lb gorilla until their actions begin costing them market share amongst those who search.

    Until then, those of us who want to be found have two choices.

    1) We can bend over, grit our teeth and say, “Thank you sir! May I have another!” (Animal House)

    2) We can invest in other ways for people to find us a.k.a “traditional” methods of marketing and advertising.

    Unfortunately, #2 isn’t a viable option for anyone seeking to reach a global audience.

    As for me, I’ll gladly root for anyone up to the task of dethroning the mighty Google. Then again, I always liked the underdog!

  11. says

    Actually I think you really have to be a VIP to get into Google’s attention. I’m selling links on my site and I was not downgraded (at least until today). But I’m not an authority, my site is only a scrapbook where I do my learning about blogging and internet maketing. I’m pissed off by what happened to you and I already started to shift my focus from SERPS results to gaining a loyal audience (which was never a priority for me). All I can say now is that I’m happy Google rejected my application for a job they had available some months ago in my country. Now I would have been ashamed to work for them.

  12. DJ says

    Sure are a lot of posts going around about how this is going to be a horrible thing for Google. The expression “whistling past the graveyard” comes to mind.

    Fish that live in a small pond tend to believe that there’s nothing outside that pond, and that in turn magnifies their sense of self-importance. They also tend to be astonished, and upset, when they get yanked out of that pond by a hook and line. The SEO pond is tiny compared to the rest of the world, and for those in it to believe that they can have a serious effect on Google is delusional. Let it go, and move on.

    • says

      So the same can be said about Google….. In fact it fits them perfectly now. There is so much more in the world outside Google.

  13. says

    Just a further example of the complete lack of transparency on Google’s part. No word on what caused the drop, just as there is no transparency on how much Google earns for the ads displayed on blogger’s sites.

    Like you said in your comment Andy, Google does need publishers, at the moment the power is with Google. One large entity against millions of tiny individual entities is not a fair playing field in the business world, unless collectively the millions of tiny individual entities organise themselves and vote with their feet and look for a better deal.

  14. says

    Well I hope that PPP new Argus does away with Google. It’s all about the traffic IMO, Google can go rot on the shelf as far as I’m concerned.
    (Just as soon as I get my Adsence $$ first ;) )

  15. says

    I think its good to see that the blogopshere is slowly moving away from PageRank. It’s hardly the same as moving away from Google anyway – people are just starting to realise that there are better ways to measure your success.

    I’ve always found it rather ironic that the blogoshpere has so long relied on Google to tell us how valuable our pages are through a static value like PR. We can far more accurately measure the value of our pages anyway – by looking at the type and volume of traffic passing through, and analysing what they are doing.

    Using real traffic data more (as opposed to something like alexa!) is a logical step forward, I think. Hopefully after this latest bout of PR bashing, everyone can stop talking about it, and instead start talking about the alternatives already out there, that we can further develop to serve the comunity.

  16. vicki says

    what’s with all the bitching and complaining – just quit plastering their freakin links all over your sites, and blogs. Webmasters and bloggers are their source of income. Boycot – if you all have balls enough, pull the adsense, don’t pay for adwords, and refer visitors to other search engines.

    Without us, Google goes down.

  17. says

    well should not say that.Without us,google will not really be down and out.But if we are without google,we WILL be down and out.Google and us should work hand in hand.Pagerank is just an indication on how far your blog goes.If you are doing the right thing always,as Andy has always thought us,Google will know their mistake and do some change to it.Mine has been given a significant rise in pagerank after this update.But to me,it is just a reward.not a must!

  18. says

    But if we are without google,we WILL be down and out.Google and us should work hand in hand.

    To expand on that..
    a) why without Google would we be down and out, their are hundreds of other engines and services Google does nothing unique or different except combine them in a neat package?

    b) Why should we work hand in hand with a company that many no longer trusts, Google is a huge company but it has to make a profit it makes a profit from you through advertising the only way to change its attitude and opinion is to stop using it. But even if every single webmaster, site owner and developer stopped using every Google service completely and all at once barring the webmaster tool team do you think anyone would notice?

    • says

      Do you really think Google wants to work with anyone?
      Forget working with the relatively meager online community, they are taking their empire into the “real” world, into TV, radio, and billboards. Markets that see even more viewers than the most popular sites. Google will be just as strong armed there as they are with us little guys.
      The blogosphere and online community can change it, but it will take a real united effort. They are a monopoly, and we gave it to them.

  19. Allen says

    Awesome. Love Matt’s costume. I will refrain from further comments on him and his blog.

    In all seriousness, I don’t think people in the seo community would care as much if they just explained why and what they are doing instead of leaving us guessing.

    Most of us are trying to do the right things and follow their guidelines. Yet when they make them so vague, it’s hard to know where to draw the line.

    And on one hand Matt tells us that his blog is his “private blog” then he posts “I am having a meeting, tell me what your suggestions are”. Is’nt that work related? And then the next post ios about what his costume should be, and I am sucked into reading it and waisting 10 minutes of my life and thinking ” who cares”

    I’m out. Thanks

  20. says

    I think the main point is that we need to focus on traffic and not page rank. I don’t know if we can ever really understand all of Google’s strategies. It feels like a cat and mouse game, but as long as we work on legitimate traffic strategies, we will be ok…I think.

  21. says

    I love the little “chutes and ladders” graphic, it’s so true. I’ve been playing that game with Google for what seems like an eternity now but just like the real life game, eventually we grow up and leave childhood’s games behind. Considering the internet and blogging are still in their infancy, there’s no telling what changes lie in store for us. Hopefully the “open source” crowd will finally start working on the next generation search that is based on P2P like file-sharing is and then the major search engines, strike, marketing engines will become a thing of the past.

  22. Internet Coupons says

    I think Google is actually scaring a few people away from selling links. I talked with a lady last week who makes over $3000 a month selling links but is going to stop come November 1 because her PR dropped from a 7 to a 3. She doesn’t want Google to take her out of the serps. Fear the Google.

  23. says

    Really only one thing comes to mind about all this … F google. In a way I am glad that they did this so we can finally pull together and let people know that Google does not own the internet and no matter what they do we will keep pushing forward and doing out thing as bloggers.

  24. says

    I can’t contribute much to the discussion, I’ll say only that I’m confused as to the “why”. As millions of bloggers are willingly publishing Google ads, most of them for nothing or next to it, why go after them? I make 2-300$ per month doing what I do on mine. I make 2-3$ on Adsense. Whatever threat am I????
    I’ll go on doing what I have been doing. (ppp). I like it, I learn something new every day, and it will take my family on holiday next year. Google won’t.

  25. says

    So funny! Actually the google shake up helped one of my sites… but luckily I don’t rely on google or any search engine. It is only part of my whole marketing effort.

  26. says

    All this link buying penalty has done is drive it underground. Is paying someone to write and distribute articles link buying? What about giving stuff to a web site in exchange for links. How about link directories that charge a fee for “review”?