Google PageRank Directory Clanger

I know a segment of my readers are sick to death with anything to do with Google PageRank updates, and I haven’t even bothered mentioning the most recent update up until now… there wasn’t really anything newsworthy in it.

I just spotted a story on Sphinn that will likely get deleted because it is all in Russian – the Google Directory has apparently been updated from DMOZ data from 08/01/2008 (European date notation)

That wouldn’t be significant other than Google lists pagerank alongside the listings in their version of DMOZ

Google Directory Dmoz Jan 2008

I have highlighted a few sites that as far as I am aware still have a manual PageRank penalty for what Google might consider selling PageRank Passing Links, including this one.

If you look carefully you will notice that the values shown in the Google Directory are considerably higher than those shown on the Google Toolbar.

It seems Google used their real dataset for PageRank for the Google Directory export, forgetting that they are telling their millions of users lies on their toolbar with manual penalties, which until now had no visible proof.

Google have the right to do whatever they like with their search engine, but this is another major demonstration of how Google are manipulating public and advertiser opinion. They still state that the toolbar PageRank displayed is:-

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.

It seems my listing which was previously as a PR5 has moved up a number of places, so there is a good chance I am now on the bottom of the PR6 sites listed.

Lets be clear, even though I am most likely a PR6 site, I am not selling PageRank when I write reviews, they are editorial links.

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  1. says

    Where does DMOZ take PR values from?

    Could they be months old? If so, since you said that Google Directory took values from DMOZ, the Google Directory values could be old. Then, there’s no correlation, whether Google Directory PR values are real or not.

    If DMOZ were taking PR values from Google Toolbar, then they’d be the same as the old data.

    Btw, I didn’t see any PR values at both DMOZs atm. How do you get them?

    Also, the article said that since Google updated its directory, it isn’t going to rid of it.

    • says


      Google take an exported copy of the DMOZ directory, stick it on their servers, add the PageRank values, and then sort the results based upon PageRank

      I think they also sort the sites of the same PageRank by how long they have been in the directory, which is why as I am a relatively new inclusion, just short of 1 year, my listings normally appear at the bottom of a particular catchment.

      • says

        Wow! That’s a lot to take in for a newibe like me. I guess that I will ignore PageRank until I have one!

        If/when I finally get a ranking, I will come back here to ask you to explain it to me!

        Thanks, it is an interesting discussion.

  2. says

    The Google Directory, along with, lost relevancy a long time ago. Now, if the volunteer editors at were even moderately reliable at adding and removing entries, that wouldn’t be the case.

    It just confuses the heck out of me as to why Google uses the Open Directory Project in the first place. Anyway, a graph next to each entry, without displaying the actual number, is almost worthless. Is it a 4 or a 5, a 5 or a 6? Guessing by the appearance isn’t nearly accurate enough.

    • says

      PR4 you can read, it is trying to tell the cut off between 5 and 6 that is impossible unless you have some historical reference. Knowing my position is normally at the bottom of any catchment due to the age of my inclusion, and that I have moved up the list 15 slots is all I can go on.

      I have never received any real traffic from DMOZ, which is also why I would look on buying a link from Yahoo Directory as purely for SEO purposes.

      The listings are out of date, and for instance Patrick at Lonely Marketer is still listed as being at his old URL

      • says

        Thanks for the Lonely Marketer catch. I’ve updated the listing accordingly. Turns out I listed the site on January 18, 2007; he announced the URL change on January 19; he made it on January 20. Stuff happens.

        And unless I overlooked it, he didn’t care enough to send in an update notice with the new URL.

        In other news: There are 261 new submissions in the cat at the moment, very few of which are worth anything. And it’s not like the category is short of listings now …


  3. says

    I just checked a few sites, none of them having any reason to be penalized, and none of their Toolbar PRs matched what was shown in the directory. Some were higher, some were lower, so it still appears that the PR dataset hasn’t been updated yet.

    • says

      Lincoln, I am listed as a PR3 by every datacentre other than the one used by the Search Status plugin.

      I don’t know if the Google Directory is using the newest export, but it is certainly using a newer export, from after the penalties were introduced in October.

  4. says

    Andy, I have actually noticed some other things. In fact I was to e-mail you just before I read this post. Have you noticed that Collective Thoughts is ranking at PR5?

    Didn’t you launch the site after the most recent infamous PR shake up???

    • says

      Yeah, it doesn’t take much to get PR5 ;)

      Collective thoughts gained a fair number of authority links from being involved in the Open Web Awards, plus links from SEL, Marketing Pilgrim, Sphinn and other authroity bloggers in the SEO/SEM niche.

      I am certainly not surprised

  5. says

    Hey Andy,

    You know, I don’t give importance to page rank. This doesn’t bring money in the bank for me! Maybe for Google…

    I get top placements for each of my sites. Heck, I even have a top 10 ranking for the keyword “affiliate marketing” (with and my site is a PR3.

    I made thousands of dollars from a pr 2 website.

    For me, PR is nut!

    All the best,
    The Body Guard Marketer.

    • says

      Yeah Franck, in many ways I am the same, but it helps in some ways.

      In many ways, the fact that Google have decided not to totally zero me is interesting, though I expect that is just around the corner.

  6. says

    Andy, have you nofollowed your outgoing review links? If not do you ever intend to? I know you’ve written about it previously, was just wondering whether your position had shifted any since this whole brouha.

    • says

      Rob only in the Bidvertiser review, and that was because they asked for it specifically.

      Other reviews have editorial links, not just to the person ordering a review but to sites referred to in the context of the review.

      Based on Google’s “no commitment to telling anything useful” stance, and unwillingness to clear up the grey area, I can’t make any changes yet.

      I can’t use the current reinclusion request form without making some changes, but I have real ethical problems being forced to nofollow editorial links that were previously given, not to mention the technical difficulties of not sending pings and getting my site blacklisted as a trackback spammer with nofollow links.

  7. says

    I think the hype has died down on pr updates as less blogs are posting about it.

    PR as seen from the toolbar is outdated since PR is actually updated everyday. As webmasters we really should not bothered much about the toolbar PR as it does not determine traffic. What we want is keyword rankings, and an increasing PR is a result of a keyword ranking campaign.

    The only usage for toolbar PR is to sell text links, other advertisements, and gaining link partners. Though when caught selling links the PR would go down anyway!

  8. says

    To show how messed up this whole PR thing is, you need to take a look at my blogspot blog: Okay — its a PR4! Now, I haven’t posted there in a year. So I have a higher PR than you on a blog I don’t even use anymore. What wrong with this picture?

  9. says


    This is interesting indeed. So the question is which one are they actually using? Is their a definitive PageRank or are all the ones they export not the actual ones they use internally? I guess we’ll never know since we can only base PageRank on what they export to the datacenters and toolbar.

  10. says

    I guess there are a number of things this could be telling us. It doesn’t definitely prove the existance of manual penalties. I try not to pay too much attention to PageRank as it isn’t always a direct indication of the traffic you will get. It is easy to get obsessed with it though as it is the only real indicator we have.

    • says

      It is dangerous citing Wikipedia as an authoritative source.

      The Google Directory seems to have 8 variations in the graphics it uses for display, that is correct.

      However the listings are in PageRank order, and I jumped up the list significantly, although the display graphic didn’t change.

      That strongly suggests that Google are using a 10 point scale to rank the listings, even if the display graphic is 8 point.

      I notice that no authoritative source is quoted for the statement about the 8 point scale, maybe that declaration should be backed up by an official statement from someone at Google.

  11. says

    Very interesting… but I don’t think it confirms the existence of manual penalties. The directory could be using PageRank info from an old datacenter for example…

    • says

      Matt, Google have stated that they are dishing out manual penalties for sites selling PageRank, but there is no proof for each individual site.

      I have had many people suggest that my own reduction is a natural thing, and I have seen Matt Cutts suggest that there is less juice in the webmaster space, quoting Vanessa Fox as an example. (from memory, in the comments on SEOmoz, not an exact quote)

      Now for the first time an individual webmaster can point to and say that Google gave them a manual penalty with some level of proof.
      It is not definitive proof, Google might well have assigned the values at random, or used future prediction, or a host of other plausible alternatives, but that wouldn’t be typical of how things have worked in the past.
      I can assure you I have never had a TBPR displayed as PR6, but I was a PR5 for a long time before Google first dished out penalties at the beginning of October.

  12. says

    Don’t be discouraged, the pr updates are affecting all of us. My site as well many others have lost pr on this update and the last. I think its a big chain of events because there are a lot of sites on the top of the chain that lost pr. The thing is I am still rank for my keywords and have not lost any positions in the serps.

  13. says

    Seems like Google forgot to cover up its tracks again. Well, at least you get to guess what your real PageRank might be like, before Google patches up its “mistake”

  14. says

    I believe I have increased my page rank the old-fashioned way – lots of good content, backlinks from my articles, optimizing each page for a relevant keyword phrase, commenting on other blogs, and just plain hard work. I went from 0 to 3 in 7 weeks by doing what works.

  15. says

    Good catch, thanks for confirming what we already all knew.

    a better question would be when will DMOZ ever become functional again?

  16. Marco says

    Everyone should be very very careful about critical articles about Google. I have a well known web site and write regulary about Google and critize every once in a while things.

    After the first critic, my free Google Apps account was blocked (had to wait more than a week for Google to enable it again “… technical problems”).

    After the third article (comparing Google docs to Zoho, Thinkfree, etc.) my pagerank was gone within 24 hours. (By the way my PR was always very high, most of the time around 7-8…
    ) COMPLETELY GONE WITH THE WIND. I checked my google webmaster account and it even says my page is no more indexed… LOL!!!

    I have more than 40,000 links pointing to me from famous magazines, newspapers (ny times, etc.)… so it shows that my site is a serious online magazine… i mean i dont really need google to index me, but it’s a SHAME what google does just because someone writes publicly something negative about a google product…

    I am writing this anonymous because i dont want to risk to lose my google apps mail account again. (will switch to Windows Live domains soon!)

  17. says

    Didn’t the Yahoo Directory have decent PR in the past? It seems they don’t anymore. A couple of years ago Matt Cutts kind of endorsed it in his blog (if I remember correctly). For 300 dollars a year the only thing it really ever did was pass pr.
    That was interesting about the manual penalties Hacker Safe was using PR Links as a selling tool and I think Google punished them for it. Since the end of February 2008 Pagerank Toolbar Update the Scan Alert Directory lost all of it’s rank. Today it’s back to a PR 7. Do you think maybe they wrote Google a sorry letter?

    • says

      looks like Google finally did it. After the latest PR update Yahoo Directory’s ( inner category pages have lost their PR completely (grey bar). That’s definitely going to hurt Y!s $300/yr/link business. What I don’t understand is why Yahoo dir’s homepage PR has gone up from 7 to 8.

  18. says

    At what marketshare does Google become a monopoly or dominant player in search?

    In some markets they control over 70% of all search activity, and, they clearly dominate the market direction in cost of ads, how they are delivered, etc.

    Where is the outrage, or even concern that a single company could so manipulate an international resource this way? Simply having a seemingly innocent company motto ( Don’t be Evil ) is not sufficient reason for a pass on privacy rights, market manipulation, and the like.


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