So What Have I Done Wrong Now Google?

The restoration of my green pixel’s didn’t last long (just 1 week), and probably wasn’t a full restoration anyway.

I had this feeling that PR5 was “Google Probation” as my link growth has been continuing and my Google Directory listing suggested PR6.

All paid reviews on this blog are blocked with robots.txt and I declare that is the case in my disclosure policy.

Thus we need to look at other potential problems (note these are potential problems, but nothing I can really change)

Linking To People Who Advertise

Some regular readers decided to purchase advertising – advertising links unlike many blogs are nofollow. I mentioned this to Google within my reinclusion request as an undefined grey area, and many blogs accept paid advertising from Google themselves, but don’t nofollow Google.
I don’t have a separate advertising department, but I am going to try my best to keep advertising separate from content. Many of the people advertising are among my most dedicated readers, and I am sure in part they are advertising with me to “give something back”. It is much appreciated.

I actually have another advertiser to link to in a post following this one – it is going to be totally natural for me to link to them, it is editorial and news I would be covering whether they advertise with me or not.

I am currently assuming this is not an issue…


I do some minor consulting with them, but additional coverage on this blog is not part of the deal.

Blogging social networks have been part of my core content for 15 months.

15 posts regarding Blogcatalog
47 posts regarding MyBlogLog

If you look at raw numbers, I have given Blogcatalog less coverage than their biggest competitor.

It is important however to look at the timelines, as a large number of the MyBlogLog posts were from before Blogcatalog was on the scene, and were during some quite turbulent times.

I basically give both of them coverage whenever they introduce something interesting – it doesn’t include every announcement

I don’t think I am really at liberty to disclose the exact financial relationship with Blogcatalog.

I am certainly not being paid to write reviews in much the same way Matt Cutts isn’t paid for writing about Google on his blog.

Then of course Jason Calacanis just loves linking through to Mahalo where he is a major shareholder.

Google are certainly in the wrong if they think my coverage of Blogcatalog is in some way against their current webmaster guidelines. I have pushed hard for clarification on the shareholder linking and paid links connection, but Google has never provided any feedback.

PayPerPost, Sponsored Reviews and ReviewMe

I have never been paid to write anything about Izea / PayPerPost – seriously

Izea have recently purchased advertising to promote RealRank – they have similar advertising on other tech blogs

I wrote an initial review about Sponsored Reviews that was paid, but that review is blocked by robots.txt

None of my coverage about ReviewMe, and sister services TextLinkAds, AuctionAds etc has ever been paid for.

As far as I am concerned I have a clean sheet here

Affiliate Links?

I have been a little lazy with those but that isn’t against Google’s webmaster guidelines


I am extremely rigorous in moderating my comments – this shouldn’t be an issue

Hub Pages Hublove

I certainly wasn’t paid to link through to Hubpages and take part as a judge.

Previous declarations

As previously explained, I have never placed an emphasis on selling PageRank and my reviews certainly consume a huge amount of time.

Webmaster Tools

I have just double checked in webmaster tools – my paid reviews are certainly blocked by robots.txt and I kept close control of them.

Even though they are blocked, they are ranking extremely well, as expected – in fact if anything the ranking has improved.

Signal For Future Penalty

I value the ~400 visitors Google sends me every day on this site, but unless they rewrite the webmaster guidelines… again, there is nothing I am to my knowledge doing wrong.

Ah well, at least some of my meandering thought process whilst writing this post has resulted in some new niche site ideas… stay tuned.


That was pretty quick – showing PR5 again on most servers.
I did wait a few days prior to this post to see if there was some kind of update fluctuation as per my previous post regarding the updates. The items I highlighted still remain in the grey area, such as the dividing line between “Thanking your sponsors” (known to be a violation, and “editorial coverage” which probably isn’t.

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  1. says

    I’m tired of trying to figure it out. My blog has been sitting at a PR3 for a year, when I know in the old days it would be at a 5 at least.

    I put in a “reinclusion” request after I stopped selling links (about a month ago) and I’m still looking at a 3.

    It’s nice to see those pixels increase even when know it means little to nothing, but I’m to the point to where I’ve given up on it.

    We all know the value you provide even if Google doesn’t.

    • says

      It isn’t just the outward depiction (which does have an effect on subscriptions, and traffic) but the potential of other penalties down the road, especially if I have now been flagged as a repeat offender.

  2. says

    I see some very strange things. Some data centers reporting PR 7 for my new domain. One of my PR 3 websites was just “awarded” site links. I agree with Josh, it really means nothing these days.

  3. says

    you are now a pr3. franky i don’t think that google seriously re-integrates blogs after you have been penalized for sponsored links or sponsored reviews…
    but i fear that the problem is in the link you have at the beginning and at the end of the right column….if you want to have a good reputation with google you can just use adsense. no more….

  4. says

    Andy, this is what you get because you have complained about Matt Cutts and Google too much. They have you black listed and Matt is watching you 24/7. He has his finger on your Toolbar PR trigger! Whenever he has a bad dream he twitches in his sleep and a downgrade is triggered. You need to start saying good things about Google. How Google does no Evil, then Matt will like you and will push your PR up. Just think happy thoughts about Google, be happy, do not worry..:)

    I think Google is out to get you!

  5. says

    This is really the thing I hate the most about Google. You are choosing your site’s content, location, etc to appease Google. They are the boss of the web and it’s disgusting.

    Now directly I think PR is getting more and more useless. I had an ecomm site that has more links to it today than a year ago and does nothing against the TOS at all and it’s went from a PR5 to a PR3 today. Much ado about nothing.

  6. says


    I have been having problems with Google on my site as well. From PageRank being completely taken away (3/10 to na/10), to pages on my site being removed from the index for no reason. That and the inconsistency in similar data on Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools leads me to believe that Google is getting sloppy. Spread too thin. Something. I can not even find a hint of a reason why any of this would have happened to my site, as I am certain I am following the rules Google has set forth.

    I have written a few articles on the subject recently if anyone cares to chime in. My Blog

  7. says

    When it comes to the bloggerverse I am just a little flea, my sites had no rank and stayed that way after paid post. I guess the question has been asked before, how can a zero rank be selling rank. I know some say that it is future rank that is also being sold but that is a bit hit and miss.

    A lot of bloggers are now just ignoring PR. Hopefully, somewhere down the track someone will come up with a fair way to rank sites and totally undermine Google. At present, until Izea get it right, I don’t see them as serious competition. Alexa, well when I can get to below 100k doing very little, that is also not reliable.

    For me, RSS numbers are my key to how well I am doing. As for PR, I cannot work it out. One site of mine that I hardly ever post to, has only a handful of backlinks with traffic of around 10 (not 10k – just 10) visitors per day has sat on PR 3 for months. PR – I just don’t think it is worth the hassle anymore unless you are into earning from your site in a big way, then PR gives you a little advertising leverage. For us little folk, content and pleasing the masses is probably more important.

  8. says sad to read this story Andy.
    You must really angry with gOOGLE now rite!!

    by the way, same goes to JohnChow and Adesblog.
    From PR7 (ades) to Pr3

    Me too being hurt from a decent PR4 to PR0
    Happens to my baby blog

  9. says

    My Romanian blog got a PR4 after 2 months of existence (was writing like crazy and people did link to the good articles) and then, at the next PR update I was “awarded” a PR0. I was shocked. Now I have 4 again and who knows what’s gonna happen next :)

  10. says

    I’m over the pagerank deal. I’ve got a 20 page blog that has a pagerank of 4 that receives about 10 hits a day. In contrast, my main blog gets over 1500 a day and is an authority in the niche yet has a pagerank of 3. Work it out Google.

  11. says

    One thing that I keep see popping up is that now since the PR debate is somewhat dying down between webmasters and SEOs now clients are starting to get wind about it and now they are obsessing.

    Every other client that I talk to mentions PR at some point in the conversation and I have to keep reassuring them that it’s not that important.

    Their like kids in a candy store that want all the new candy, at least its new to them. SEOs have been eating this candy for a while.

    At least your rankings and traffic aren’t hurt Andy. That’s when a penalty really hurts.

  12. says

    Actually achieving a google page rank is something of an accomplishment in itself.

    I’m waiting for that post that outlines the exact steps to take to ensure that a google page rank is achieved.

  13. says

    How ironic that the search engine which advises “write for people, not for search engines” is now requiring us to write for their search engine if they want people to find out about our blogs.

  14. says

    I spotted this Andy too – I think they are taking the piss lol.

    I fell from a greater height (a PR 7) but to be honest, after watching yours go up and down, I now try and forget about TBPR (it’s hard).

    We don’t sell links – never have. The only thing we do when it comes to ‘manipulating’ serps is dofollow and that is through linky love these days and believe me heavy moderation.

    Perhaps it’s your ardent support of Dofollow in the early days that got you on the radar?

    That aside, your blog’s definately a PR 6 or 7. It’s a shame because the vast majority of your links you earned by participating in the community or writing decent content – it pisses me of when I see “bonafide” companies still with relatively high PR sites powered by little more than a lot of client sitewides (it seems)or most recently one link from Google analytics ‘accreditation’ even though they have been outed as spammers on my blog! Shame.

  15. says

    That’s odd, considering that Google rarely “restores” PageRank as soon as they are penalized? Sounds like they might be paying attention to your blog, or it could be just another glitch at Google.

  16. says

    I’m wondering what’s happening to Google now. Seems that it’s kinda hard to figure out what’s Google is doing on the other side. You have a great blog here, Andy. Keep it up!

  17. says

    Unfortunately, the more that Google takes TBPR away from blogs the less their PR authority can be seen as authoritative. Why? There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs without PR. Yet, they are read by tens of thousands of readers, if not hundreds of thousands each day, like mine.

    I’m considering going no-follow soon, but I’m not asking for reinclusion.

    I do believe that this PR spank will backfire on Google, and we’ll see Google readmitting many hundreds of blogs at some point, or removing TBPR altogether. Fact is, even my blog still passes PR to other blogs, it’s just not ‘seen’.

    Meantime over on InvestorBlogger, I’m posting as normal, getting decent traffic, and making money. So, what have I lost without PR? Not really very much at all.

    Anyone else checking Google’s stock price these days?


  18. says

    This PR game is a neverending game I think. I am sure you are not worried too much about the toolbar Page Rank. Your internal Page Rank is the same so that is all that matter for your blog. If the traffic and visitors are increasing, why bother and ask Google explanations? Just my thoughts though :)

  19. job says

    I still cant figure out why my PR drop from 4 to 1. What did i do wrong. I have blocked all the paid review but still things just the same. Should have a guide on this.

    • says

      Most likely the value of the links to your site have decreased, but hard to tell if you don’t link to the personal site that has the problems.
      You opted to link to an MFA site – pretty thin on information… thus the link got deleted.

      Are you really sure you found every old review?
      Did you check your disclosure policy and advertising sales page regarding your policy on links?

  20. says

    What I don’t understand is how larger, mainstream, companies are allowed to advertise without a penalty.

    Although I haven’t checked to confirm, what about companies like, Fortune magazine, Time Magazine, New York Times, etc. They don’t seem to be penalized. Maybe they implement nofollow, but I’m sure not all large media companies with paid advertising don’t add nofollow to their links.

    It seems to be more targeted at blogs and bloggers, or is it just me who’s thinking this?

  21. says

    The biggest problem is the mystery. I can certainly understand why this is so frustrating. I recently ‘undid’ everything I did in previous weeks after incurring a penalty. Eventually my site came back but, to this day, I don’t know what I did wrong.

  22. says

    I maintain a WTA tennis player fan blog with AdSense only, to help my visitors I have links to recources that may be them of help. If I link to the WTA Tennis Official website, how does Google know it is not an advertisement!? Fan blog should cover all spheres of Tennis, as blog is not a portal, it usually means external link to valuable resources for visitors, still it seems safer not to put external links at all!?

  23. says

    Hey Andy!

    I was just wondering, why you care at all about the green bar.

    Matt Cutts has recently confirmed in PUBLIC at the SMX in Seattle that they DO return crappy, random or no data at all to all those pagerank obsessed.

    One possible issue you might have had was that just one of the PR scrapers like oyoy once again got the “crap PR data”-flag at Googleplex



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