For a company such as Google with a stock price based extensively on anticipated growth and public sentiment, it doesn’t take a huge swing in goodwill to have a dramatic effect on valuation. Google has just slapped their biggest fans.
After the very controversial hit many sites took just 2 weeks ago for various degrees of selling PageRank or linking to clients, you might have thought Google would take a breather, but Google it seems hadn’t even started its crackdown.
A number of sites have been hit yet again, including this one, but there is also a new element that has been introduced.
Here are some unusual penalties for trusted sources of good content
A few search and money related sites as examples
http://www.searchengineguide.com PR7 PR4
http://www.searchenginejournal.com PR7 PR4
http://www.johnchow.com PR6 PR4
http://www.quickonlinetips.com/ PR6 PR3
http://weblogtoolscollection.com/ PR6 PR4
http://andybeard.eu PR5 PR3
Vlad PR4 PR2
So Why A Penalty?
Most people today will be speculating that it is all about paid links, or that it is a massive reshuffle in the PageRank algorithm. Some of the hits were certainly paid link or advertising without nofollow related.
However many of these sites do not fit that pattern, but they do fit another…
Here are the Google guidelines
Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
Many of the reputable sources that have received a penalty are part of extensive blog networks, and they have one factor in common. They have massive interlinking between their network sites.
They may also sell links or advertising that passes PageRank on some of their less visible properties, but those properties benefit from the high pagerank sites that link to them, with sitewide links.
Some of these sites have been known to add or knock millions off of the price of Apple shares in the past, what do you think it is going to do to Google?
Daniel is also compiling a list of notable sites hit and includes
The most relevant update I can give you is that Aaron the Technical Director at B5 tends to agree with the idea that this might be related to blog network interlinking, but obviously doesn’t agree with Google’s conclusions that they are doing something wrong.
At b5media, we are weighing how we want to respond to this. Either we give in to Google and let them dictate what we do and have the unenviable position of losing pagerank and possibly advertising dollars, or we take the stand that quality content is quality content regardless of Google and that our content will speak for itself. We still produce millions of pages of content per month. We still have respect in the community. We still have advertisers recognizing that these sites are valuable assets to leverage to get their campaigns out on.
I certainly don’t intend to be whipped by Google for 9 reviews or “public consultation” pieces I have written over the last 12 months, and as I gave the links in an editorial matter of my choosing, I didn’t use Nofollow.
- Not all networks have been given a penalty for interlinking.
- There are splogs and scraper sites out there that are PR5 or higher, monetized with Google Adsense, with traffic coming from Google Adwords
- Gloating “innocent” tech blogs who thank their sponsors each month with free followed links
- Major corporations such as Yahoo who are allowed to sell links
- Other corporations who practice massive internal linking among their network to unrelated sites.
It seems 9rules got bitch-slapped too, or as Paul Scrivens describes it, “Google Took My Balls and Went Home” and dropped from a PR8 to a PR5.
This will be interesting because members typically have a single sitewide link to 9rules, and 9rules links back to members via various categorized tag feeds.
It will be interesting to see if any 9 Rules members spot a drop in search traffic as a result.
This isn’t site-wide interlinking, though blog networks by their very nature tent to encourage a little inbreeding, just like any social group.
Scrivs wrote that the one voice of reason was Scoble, but Robyn has already caught him out for not having read the other sites he linked to.
Robert is learning to speak like an SEO, explaining that PageRank is meaningless on a site wide level, and it is all down to individual pages.
Now as Robert is a big fan of Techmeme, and I have benefited from a fair amount of traffic from Techmeme today, I put this into a Robert Scoble and Techmeme context.
Robert, is PageRank part of Techmeme’s calculation? It could be.
Whilst I have had a lot of airtime today on Techmeme (good job too because most stories about this were buried on Digg), it is very rare for me to show up, even with significant links as part of the story.
Even then I am quickly displaced by people saying almost nothing with far fewer overall links on sites like Techmeme.
On Podtech today you have a “Commissioned” video by Oracle. You have a link without nofollow. That is a paid link.
There are 20x, maybe 100x more paid links on Podtech.net than on my site.
I have written a total of 9 paid reviews, all well received by my audience, most received editorial links sometimes even from the person who purchased the review EVEN THOUGH I OFFERED CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM.
Google themselves tell their users that TBPR (toolbar page rank) is an indication of quality.
Thus Google are now telling visitors to my site, and 100s, maybe 100s of others, that when they visit a site, it is a load of crock.
Those are lies: FUD
Maybe they have changed the meaning of PageRank. If they have done they need to inform every single one of their toolbar users that Google PageRank as displayed in the toolbar is meaningless.
It has to come from Google, not you.
I don’t look on this as outing Podtech for selling links. Robert entered the conversation and seems to think that any PageRank is meaningless anyway. It is very clear to me that taking a camera crew to someone’s office to video someone costs a great deal of money, and there is a lot of expertise needed to both perform the interview, and from the crew. There needs to be money coming from somewhere.
Unfortunately the Google bot can’t read that “intent”, and just like the 9 pages on my site that contain content that I have received compensation for which I seem to have received a penalty, the same could be true of Podtech.
Remember also Podtech is (or should I saw was) a content network with many of the video publishers with their own blogs that link to Podtech all the time… that is a little like the 9Rules Network.
J. Angelo Racoma of Splashpress Media has written about their situation, with a number of sites gaining a penalty, not just Blog Herald.
Fact is that around the behemoth search and advertising company Google is built a secondary economy. Blogs and websites use PageRank as one primary metric for reputation and trustworthiness. Many site owners bank on their sites’ or domains’ PageRank, and use these to command or negotiate advertising rates.
It’s like the gold standard applied online. And with this mass PR drop, Google has just devalued the webmasters’ gold. In effect, Google has just caused the value of this thriving industry to fall in a single day. What was a thriving economy is being rendered worth less (while not worthless, of course).
But then again, we can argue that this economy is artificial in the first place with people putting too much premium on PageRank, and especially with people putting a price tag on PR. But in that case, wouldn’t Google still be morally (and legally?) liable for killing off its competition? Do keep in mind that Google runs its own advertising program and is at the top of its game.
The suggestion seems to be a change in strategy on their part.
Aaron From B5 has had time to contemplate what this means to B5 going forward, and specifically his own blog. I should point out before you read this that this is his personal choice as many blogs within B5 are privately owned. No final decision has come from collective management discussions.
This is well worth a read:-
Here are some “Tweets” from Jeremy Wright for more on B5′s Stance
#Weird thing about today’s google smack of blog networks? We don’t actually cross-link all our sites, just per vertical. To avoid this! #
# Wow, 23 emails related to this google pr thing. Will have an official response later tonight. #
# Short version: we were playing nice. We weren’t engaged in massive cross-linking. We believe in content over pr. #
# Oh,n and this isn’t a shot at blog networks. It’s at all kinds of coontent sites, including forbes, washington post, etc. #
# Ps: b5 will be taking a “watch and see” approach, monitoring our omniture data very closely, to see if this is a real thing or just temp. #
# More quick facts on this google update: more than half the sites were major content and news sources. Lessâ€™n half were sellling links. #
The first half includes Aaron from B5 Media and Steve Fisher (not sure which one)
I discuss public perception of PageRank and how it affects authority, plus some general perception of Google, Facebook etc.
From some of the individual site mention there have also been a number of responses.
Brian Clough of Search Engine Guide has given his response to what strategy he will be taking in the future.
In case it also here is Loren Baker’s initial response, and also 8 things we have learned.
John Chow doesn’t think this will have any effect on his business, though he has removed mention of pagerank from his advertising sales page.
Darren emphasises not getting depressed about this, leverage the opportunity, and network with other bloggers.