ZeroRank – More PageRank Carnage (Round 5)

I have been receiving emails and comments today about yet another PageRank downturn for multiple sites.

Andrew Ooi has compiled a short list of Malaysian sites, many were as much as a PR5 previously, and currently show a PageRank of zero (a white bar)

Examples include:-

Colleen’s Simple Kind of Life and 5xmom

The numbers seem to be stable across multiple data centers

There doesn’t seen to be any change in prominent Search Marketing sites such as Search Engine Round Table and Search Engine Journal, and other popular bloggers such as Emom and Yaro still seem to have their degraded but still “head above water” rankings.

Meanwhile Matt Cutts is playing around with $200 PCs and the negative views of the blogosphere regarding Google.

Meaning Of PageRank Unchanged

Google have had more than a month to change the description of PageRank on their website.

Misleading PageRank Description

I haven’t seen any change to Search Engine Rankings and there is still no way to request reconsideration without admitting guilt.

Reinclusion Request

The Webmaster Help Center also doesn’t give an option to report that you think Google is making a mistake in their manual evaluation.

How do I request reconsideration of my site?

If your site has previously violated our webmaster guidelines, and you’ve made changes to it so that it now meets our guidelines, you can ask Google to reconsider your site for inclusion in the index.

In addition, if you recently purchased a domain that you think may have violated our guidelines before you owned it, you can use the reconsideration request form to let us know that you recently acquired the site and that it now adheres to the guidelines.

To request reconsideration of your site:

1. Sign in to Google webmaster tools. The webmaster tools Dashboard opens.
2. Under Tools, click Request reconsideration and follow the steps.

Google do now call this reconsideration, not just reinclusion, and Matt notes that you can still be in the index even though you have a penalty, which he updated November 4th 2007

I did find something cool though which I hadn’t seen before, maybe I missed it being reported, or didn’t pay much notice.

Google Pages Crawl Rate

I am still being crawled frequently and there are some interesting spikes. It is a pity that the graph doesn’t line up with the scale.

From January people using PayPerPost will be able to use SocialSpark.

SocialSpark Alpha screenshots do still have PageRank listed, and that will likely be removed totally unless Google change their stance.

I still don’t sell PageRank, but traffic hasn’t changed, if anything it has increased as I write more content that people want to read and link to, and it even brings in some search traffic.

Google is making huge mistakes with these updates. I know many people receiving penalties sell links, and I am not trying to defend them.

When you get someone like regular reader Rob, a real expert in SEO, who based on the links he receives should be a comfortable PR4, or possibly a PR5, currently a PR0, because he wrote one paid review using nofollow on the links.

Then you get affiliate marketers like Vlad who may have written a couple of high quality reviews, and sold some advertising.
At the same time he also is an affiliate with some affiliate services which offer SEO friendly “clean links” for their merchants.
For a website owner they are still links from which they will be making money, though the money from affiliate marketing is variable – the links still affect search engines, as do many other affiliate links which feature 301 redirects.

Now whilst Aaron’s issues might be appeased as a result of the recent interchange with Matt, that is really just the tip of the iceberg. Aaron hasn’t been lynched.

To finish I am just going to steal the words of Michael VanDeMar which he posted as a comment on Matt’s Reporting On Paid Links post.

Honestly, Matt… and if your legal team won’t let you answer this, then I understand, but if you are allowed to answer then I (and I’m sure others) would really, really like to know… as the G algo stands now, exactly how much off balance would you say it is due to the insidious act of buying and selling text link ads? How many man hours have you spent combating this crime against humanity, and at what cost? And is it seriously skewing the results that much, that all the efforts spent on it were, and continue to be, justified? Is the algo that fragile?

The other main reason that I disagree with this idea is that you think (or appear to be implying, anyways) that Paid Link === No Human Review. This not the case 9 times out of 10. You should know that.

Update – Official Statement From Izea (PayPerPost)

An official statement finally from Izea (PayPerPost) on their blog regarding Google PageRank Updates.

We now know from some of our friends inside of Google (thanks “bob”) that they are now looking for phrases such as PPP, PayPerPost,ReviewMe, Payu2blog, etc. in the text of your post. For that reason I would suggest refraining from using any type of this text in the body of your posts, sponsored or not. When you disclose thank the sponsor, not PPP.

I would like to thank Ted (CEO of Izea) for having the courage to say something about this in public, something it seems Google so far have not managed to do, and rarely do so on an official company blog.

Lisa Stewart of Bigfoot Web Marketing also has an excellent writeup of the decision process on the PayPerPost boards that ultimately led to Ted Murphy making a statement.

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Comments

  1. says

    Andy – just so you know, these zeroing outs may in fact be in preparation for a correction. It looks like a new snapshot date has been established. This post from Oct 22 on Matt Cutts’ blog is now PR0:

    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/engineering-grouplets-at-google/

    All of the posts after it are gray, meaning to me that pages not indexed after that point in time will not be included in the export, but his still being white from October 8th to that point (earlier posts all went green during the past export) tells me that this round actually just began, and the actual PageRank export has not happened yet. Going white if you have an incorrect PageRank is really normal iirc.

    • says

      I should possibly have pointed that out, you are right, as it is a frequent precursor to changes, though not normally so universal across all data centers.

      Plus it seems to still only be a subset of those previously affected which is strange, as I would have expected those already in the path of the PageRank Reaper to be in it until they repented.

      • says

        it seems to still only be a subset of those previously affected

        Well, that subset, plus new pages, which might as I mentioned mean PR corrections. Let’s hope so anyways. :)

        • jamie says

          Also this pr update may be in fact a huge backlink update. Check your sites backlinks, mine are coming back as zero on a few sites that use google api’s.

          Didn’t Big g do an update two years ago in oct/nov.

  2. says

    I am not surprised at all…. At least in my case I clearly know why my PR is zero. And I do not anticipate letting Google crawl my site soon. My experiment is producing some very interesting results- not something Google would like to hear. But I guess they would not pay attention to me anyway.

    My word to Malaysian webmasters is that they can very easily survive without Google. Just do what you do best. Google is dead as far as I am concerned.

    Hmmm Matt spends $200? Buys a computer with an OS configured to pimp G? Hmm that must be very honest, upfront and without any other intention than to enlighten his readers about the new PC. I think I may just report him for paid links.

    • says

      Vlad

      As I have said many times, I like your courage. You have a huge fan in me. I am following your progress closely. If you achieve remarkable results, the search industry will be revolutionized.

      • says

        Clement,

        Those are kind words. But I think people like Andy can revolutionize things, not some one like me!

        I doubt my results will be remarkable. However I am taking a closer look on my “long tail” these days and to my surprise Yahoo and MSN are handling things (duplicate content) much better than I would have ever expected.

        As to the strategy how to maximize Yahoo and MSN traffic there is none. In fact I am doing all those things I have learned to do to optimize my site for G. The difference is that I am focusing on “long tail” as Yahoo and MSN see it.

        Thanks for your interest.

    • ny seo says

      Yeah Vlad!

      we should all stop crying and heavily plug mahalo and other alternatives

      and I do agree with Michael, that they know their algo is fragile, their actions prove the case

      while adsense sites pollute the search results they are chasing after tla’s! and it is soo obvious that they have a vested monetary interest in keeping those MFA and scrapers in their publisher network

      i do not know why they think we are soo stupid. if we can read and crack their algo, then we can easily spot their ulterior motives

      they should be spending some of the billions of their “market cap” to hire 10,000 Russian programmers to fix it

      and at least their FUD is working, look how they have us in disarray

    • says

      It would seem that since Matt works for Google (a commercial enterprise) and frequently make positive reviews of Google, any link to Matt’s log is really a paid link. At least by the standards Google seems to be using.
      It seems really hypocritical.

  3. says

    I feel so lucky to be getting so much personal attention from G of late. Perhaps it would be easier for Google to come and beat me with their big stick in person to make me remove the paid links.

  4. says

    All of this is just ridiculous. My site’s PR has went down from a 3 to a 2, and now a 0. I know I shouldn’t care about it, but it’s stupid! And with the thing about not being able to write the words PPP or PayPerPost, etc., that just makes me want to puke.

    Sly from Slyvisions.com

  5. says

    I just got an email from TLA to remind us all to be more stealthy with our link selling and titling our link blocks, but even though I still have an unmasked affiliate link to TLA on one page that I haven’t quite got round to removing, I survived the carnage.

    Oh, and I just noticed yesterday one site I regularly frequent:

    http://www.japantoday.com

    PageRank 7, but at the bottom of the left column, what’s those three MARKETPLACE links? The right-hand ads are all nicely nofollowed, but…

    • says

      Is it possible to be more stealthy from Google? My instinct says no. To think all I wanted to do was create a blog/business
      To date I have been unaffected but why do I look at that tool bar every time I go to my site?

    • says

      Just to follow up, Google finally caught up with me and slapped me down to PR3 from PR5. And I’d just finished deleting all mention of TLA too, although I still have, and don’t intend to drop, TLA.

      Japan Today’s still sitting on PR7, even though using linkdomain on Yahoo! shows a pretty suspicious pattern of links for these linked sites.

      • says

        I am trying to monitor what is going on to get some clear signals.

        I have actually thought of a way to plead reinclusion without making too many changes. Say you have gone through your outbound links and removed links (nofollowed) to sites that might be looked on as a bad neighbour.

        You removing (with nofollow) TLA is a good idea, maybe also John Chow, but it seems currently that PayPerPost ranks for their own name, and there were lots of blog posts about PayPerPost that were compensated, so obviously based upon that PPP should be ok…
        But then in some things Google isn’t quite logical.

  6. says

    Yep, I’m now a 0. A fellow blogger emailed me this morning to let me know – they knew I had vowed to stop checking PR.

    I’m no longer a Google user. I use Dogpile for searches, Bloglines for blog reading, my own email server for email..

    What Google are doing is potentially illegal here in Australia. It certainly breaches the trade practices act in my opinion. I am not a lawyer myself but it seems fairly obvious. The ACCC already has one case against them regarding sponsored link results. I may be the first blogger to contact the ACCC regarding this apparent breach of the law, but I do not believe I will be the last. I would suggest that any Australian blogger who has been affected should call the ACCC on 1300 302 502 (Australian callers) or + 612 6243 1305 (overseas callers) to discuss the situation.

    In the meantime I can only suggest that we all stop using Google as much as possible. Vote with your mouse.

    Snoskred

    • says

      I guess that’s why Google never made official announcement on this – they won’t confirm their commitment in antitrust/anticompetition activities, very serious case!

  7. says

    Wow… amazing funny end… so the “Google Friends” told PayPerPost … ah – ikea – that they are looking for “keywords” in the body copy… LOL … now that’s a funny joke…

    That’S another nice piece of misinformation and leading dummies into thinking google would restrict to doing such simple rookie-code checks … frankly, even an lower than average coder can implement a lot more things to track down the blueprints of PPP within a couple hours

    • says

      I am sure they are using much more sophisticated algorithms for some thing, but honestly at this stage why bother doing anything more complicated, as the aim seems to be FUD, otherwise they wouldn’t take so long to take out everyone.

      I am sure 50% of the bloggers or more using PayPerPost have written about them at sometime, especially using marketplace opportunities.

      Why bother using an algorithm when they can just get an intern to do a manual check on 1000 blogs, as apparently they are doing some kind of manual inspection.

      Obviously for TLA it is a little more complex, but they have been dealing with that for a long time.

      Sebastian had a cracking and extremely linkworthy article a few days back on one of the other services.

  8. says

    I seem to be one of the few affected by this, will be interesting to see what happens. I find it funny that they target me, yet leave sites that really promote the fact that they’re selling links unscathed.

    I’ll just continue to work on traffic, screw PR ;)

  9. says

    Hi! Andy, thanks for dropping by. I agree we don’t have to worry about this recent event yet. I read somewhere, somebody’s young daughter’s blog does not accept sponsorships also got a PR0. I just wonder if anyone still have a PR at this stage? Or, everyone is gettin PR0? :)

  10. says

    Does using Page Rank as a method of punishing for bad behavior defeat the purpose of “Page Rank” in the first place:

    PageRank is a link analysis algorithm that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of “measuring” its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is also called the PageRank of E and denoted by PR(E).

    Does the relative importance of a site change when you accept money for your opinion? Does it change bias? Does your opinion or research matter less when it has been paid for? Is the information on a site less right or relevant if there is a paid post beneath it?

  11. says

    As the response by both TLA and Izea suggests, the cull is being conducted manually. I’ve got not doubts about that. It’s also not being done particularly scientifically either. A lot of my squeaky clean client sites got slapped for no other reason than association.

    Let’s face it, if Site A is committing the heinous crime of displaying TLA on their posts, it’s not too difficult for a $10 an hour intern to look at the Webmaster Tools console for Site A and then apply an across the board slap to all the other sites without looking.

    I’m pretty certain that’s what they’ve done because some of my sites that weren’t associated with my Webmaster Tools account escaped the slap totally.

  12. ny seo says

    it has to be manual.

    i can list hundreds of sites that should have been penalized, but remained the same

  13. says

    Andy your feed seems to not update very often, I seem to read your posts by finding them on the front page of Sphinn rather than getting them via my feed reader. Not that thats a bad thing I suppose.

    • says

      Patrick that must be a thing with Feedburner I should really investigate, in fact this post isn’t showing with Feedburner yet after 20 hours and their Feedmedic keeps showing some very strange information.

      Not every post actually makes it to the front page even though it sometimes seems that way.

  14. says

    I disagree very much about what is happening right now, I think this is just the start. The way it is being handled is even worse.

    There should be no need for a “confession” to get Google to fix their mistakes. This seems right out of a communist dictatorship.

    That said. the real debate was over years ago when nofollow was introduced. I think it is just a matter of time before all the search engines (they all promoted nofollow when it came out didn’t they?)follow Google. I am not sure you can stuff the genie back in the bottle.

  15. says

    Hey Andy, there’s been talk for awhile now of boycotting Google because of this PR mess. I want to organize one for real. I mean a big, massive boycott… I’m not a big name blogger and I don’t know as well as you about what tactics will work and what won’t to get Google’s attention and hit them where it hurts.

    I’m wondering if you want to be our leader. LOL.

    I started a thread about it over at PPP. http://boards.payperpost.com/viewtopic.php?t=9574

  16. says

    Looking at all the comments here, I’m really in great company. My PR went down from 3 to 2 and then to 0 because I’m a PayPerPost blogger.

    The thing is Google is victimising a small segment of bloggers leaving the vast majority unscathed. I’m sure Google hardly touched many of all the 85,000 PayPerPost bloggers.

    Anyway, I think Google cannot penalise bloggers by taking away the PR because it will be making a great mockery of PR which is supposed to measure the importance of the page. Just because there is a paid opinion in the form of a sponsored post and link does not make the blog less important or relevant than if there is a not-sought-after opinion given.

  17. says

    Good post Andy, as always. I honestly believe it comes down to Google no longer being in a position to make descisions over paid reviews / linking. They have too much of an interest in advertising now – they ARE an advertising company. That’s a conflict of interest in my book; hiding behind the guise of “better search rankings” holds no water anymore in my opinion.

    Google will start to lose popularity if it has been targeting the competition in this way. Maybe not yet, but looking at it in a broader sense, from open social to the new free mobile OS they are producing – they are positioning themselves to totally monopolise internet usage of the masses. If MS was considered evil for their desktop monoloply, how much worse is a monopoly of the web itself?

  18. DontBeanIdiot says

    Andy,
    Why are you contstantly defending loser TED? Wear some pants, get out of the house and make some money in an honest manner.

  19. says

    Yup, PR 6 a month and a half ago and now zero. Traffic steady although this all makes me nervous. Google is perpetrating the ultimate irony: the only sites that will retain high pagerank are the ones to whom it does not matter.

    Vic

  20. says

    I was busy all last week and missed the excitement– but my blogs rank got bitch-slapped too. Do I have any PPP posts on it? No. Do I have any Smorty ads? No. Review me? No.

    Well… I think my bitch slap my prove this: Google can’t identify paid links!

  21. shelly says

    Kumiko’s Cash Quests was just sold for $15,000 and her blog remains a PR5 DESPITE the fact that she admits making most of her money on TLA and Paid reviews. WTF! Why do the small blogs get hit down to 0?? What in the world is going on?

  22. says

    Here’s something else interesting:

    The Internet.com network was knocked down to PR4’s.

    Internet.com, internetnews.com, graphics.com, devx.com, all which used to be either PR7 or PR8’s.

    Now I know for sure they weren’t selling links. So why did they get knocked down? Maybe for inner-network linking?

    • says

      Jonathan, they actually have quite an unnatural linking structure in that almost all the links they receive seem to be to their home page, at least in Yahoo – it seems like more than 90%

      Maybe that is from their other properties

      It is possible that a large number of the links might have been from some kind of incentive.

  23. says

    I don’t care what payperpost says or their mercenary writers have to say. When I am in the role as a consumer I do not want to read “paid” reviews.

    How many own and use the products and services they write about?

    I read a paidperpost review today on a floor and tile company written by a 22 year old college drop out who lived at home rent free eating her mommy and daddy’s food.

    I will never buy a damn thing from a “paid” review. Do a survey among consumers and I’ll be you find that the majority will not either.

    • says

      Amazing insight David ;), but ultimately the same is true about affiliate links.

      Effectively the quality of the content is down to the amount of time someone spends writing a review.
      If you spend a few hours on a review, and charge more for your time, then the quality of content is sufficient to get a large number of consulting offers, as happens with me, the vast majority I turn down because I don’t really do consulting.

      Here is an example of a paid review that triggered a lot of work offers.
      http://andybeard.eu/2007/06/wordpress-seo-masterclass-for-competitive-niches.html

    • says

      So, David, you’re telling us that you’ve never, ever bought anything on the basis of an advertisement anywhere?

      I take it that you built your own house as, of course, you wouldn’t have bought from the paid advertisement that any estate agent had, would you?

      I guess that you don’t have a car either. After all, the car sales guy is getting paid to sell it to you and tell you how wonderful it is.

      In todays consumer society, could you explain to us all just how you get your information?

      I don’t argue that all paid posts are wonderful. Many are total garbage. On the other hand, many are very thorough reviews of the service on offer and out of all proportion to the amount of money being paid.

      In a lot of cases, paid posts blend into the background of the blog so much that it would be difficult for an outsider to know that one is paid whilst another is not. I would challenge anyone to identify all the finance posts that I’ve done which are paid for, purely by looking at the text. Likewise for the travel posts.

  24. says

    Perhaps a silly question, but if they don’t like paid reviews which, on the whole, are effectively the advertiser buying a link in context, then does that mean that they will be dropping the PR of all paid directories to zero too?

    In many ways, that makes a lot more sense although I suspect that they’d have more than a few legal problems in doing it.

    Also, I gather that from the PPP blog that it’s a matter of having words like PPP, PayPerPost, ReviewMe and so on in your posts which is now getting hit. That does sound rather like supressing freedom of expression to me. Oh, sorry, I forgot that google doesn’t believe in that in google.cn and so on.

  25. says

    Looks like the PageRank carnage is still ongoing. I started to notice that there are now more and more sites getting hit by the total PageRank reset (most notably Izea).

  26. says

    Ya know…. call me paranoid but I do believe that I’m going to discontinue selling links on my site. I’ll tell you what has me nervous: This has been the most step by step, or staged thing I’ve ever seen Google do. On my site:

    PR6 -> PR4 -> PR3 -> PR0

    I’m assuming that at each stage perhaps, the site was being checked to see whether the paid links had been removed.

    My worry? That the next stage will FINALLY be impact in the SERPs, especially in view of the fact they’ve added the paid link is a no-no paragraph to their webmaster guidelines.

    Vic

  27. says

    I’ve just had my pagerank reinstated too. I was remove early in December and I requested re-inclusion 2 times and it finally worked. Andy I sent you an email via you contact form, but I guess you get many requests.

    Anyway I am a happy camper !

  28. says

    Thank you for this informative article. I have had my blog for just over a year now. I review products and services and have not used “nofollow” not because I’m nice, but just because I was not aware of this “game” from the powers that be. I have given tons and tons of “link love” – I’m feeling like the Mother Teresa of Link Love. My page rank has never changed from a zero. I am just starting to learn why. My site includes a database of doctors who prescribe a certain type of medication and a database of a certain type of pharmacy which is able to make up this medicine (bioidentical hormones). It is the first site that gives readers this type of information all in one place. One these pages, I link out to each and every doctor and (compounding) pharmacy. This is the first site in Canada and the U.S. to do this. I report the latest health research in the media. Link out to each and every source story. All without the nofollow. I have also commented and contributed to quite a few websites and could not understand why I had so few “backlinks”. I think my site has value – at least by my ever growing readership I believe it does and the (verbal) comments I have received from doctors and pharmacists. Well, now I know. I suppose I have to go and download a “no follow” plugin now. It’s a shame really in the blogging world when blogging was supposed to be about Web 2.0 and its theory that content would now be generated by both the creator and the reader. Will a cloud of silence fall upon the blogsphere? The last few days I have been checking the sites I’ve been commenting on. Yes, indeed, they have “nofollow” in the code in the View Source. I’m thinking this is sort of ridiculous.
    I can’t understand why Google became the God of the internet. Why is it illegal to sell links? Is the blog/website owner not the owner of a business? Can they not determine how they are to generate income?
    Okay, okay, I’ll go download that “no follow” plugin and try and figure out which links to add nofollow to and which not to. That’s going to take me hours and hours and hours instead of doing my research and article writing.
    Sorry for the long comment, I’m just a bit peeved. And if you do follow this posting, thank you so much. I’ll be back to your site because there’s obviously A Lot for me to learn.

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