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The Google Page Rank Pendulum Swings…. Again

Google-PendulumAs often happens with updates at Google – today we see another adjustment in Page Ranks of many of the sites hit in the last couple of days. For example both of my blogs have recovered and returned to PR6.

Not all have though – you can see a list of some who have and haven’t at Andy’s blog (by the way Andy has done a great job at following this story).

I’ve had confirmation now from two sources at Google that this latest round of updates was ALL about the selling of text links. You can see Jeremy Twittered the same thing here. Some of those who have had their updates reversed today were falsely penalized for selling links (like ProBlogger which used to do it but stopped months back).

This latest furore has all been about the selling of links and is a warning shot to bloggers and webmasters who engage in the practice. Of course not everyone who sells links has been hit (there’s no way Google will get everyone) but it’s a sign of what Google are continuing to crack down on.

So what Should Bloggers Do?

So what does this mean for bloggers who sell links? I guess it means there is risk associated with it and that the risk is losing page rank (at the least) from selling links. Whether this also leads to a loss of traffic we’re yet to see.

If you have been hit by the penalties and want to recover your ranking in Google’s eyes the way forward is simple. Remove the links and ask for a reconsideration from Google using the tool in Google’s Webmaster Tools. To do this you need to have your site registered in Webmaster tools and log in – you’ll then see a ‘Request Reconsideration’ link on the right hand side of the screen that allows you to report your changes and ask for reconsideration.

Of course many bloggers are not doing this because they haven’t seen any decrease in traffic yet and don’t much care about a PR decrease.

It’s a decision that bloggers need to make for themselves and something that I have mixed feelings on. On the one hand I see why Google wants to stop the practice as it makes their task of ranking sites purely based upon whether the site is seen as an authority more challenging.

On the other hand I see bloggers who struggle to make money using AdSense and other ad networks and who have come to rely upon the text link ads. Many bloggers have seen text links become their #1 income stream. I also see this as being somewhat of a slippery slope for Google to go down as it’s going to change the landscape and force text link sellers further underground (see below). There will also be plenty of inconsistencies in their carrying out of the penalization of text link sales and lots of people pointing them out.

My Main Advice

My main advice to publishers whether they decide to sell or not sell text links hasn’t really changed – Forget about Page Rank and Build a Better Blog. Build a quality site that builds community, attracts readers from as many sources as possible (relying upon Google traffic as a sole source of traffic isn’t a smart move) and build a blog that enhances people’s lives. This way you don’t need to rely upon Google (or any other single site) to send you traffic and keep you profitable.

Will We see More and More BlackMarket Text Link Selling?

The selling of text links has always had a black market kind of feel to it – however I think that what Google has done this last week means that we’ll see more and more of the text link selling go further underground. We’ll see it happen less using systems like TextLinkAds and more happening in less transparent ways.

We’ll also probably see more and more selling of links inside of posts or on single pages and less and less on sidebars/footers etc.

It may even mean that we see text link selling become a more valuable thing to do as the supply of publishers willing to sell links dwindles. I know that even in the last month I’ve been approached on three occasions by individuals wanting to buy links on individual posts on my blogs – and the monetary value of these links was significantly larger than anything I’d heard of being achieved before for single links.

I don’t know where this will all end – but I doubt it’s the end of text links and I can only see both those who are in the business of selling them AND Google becoming more aggressive in this little war.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. congratulation darren!you are back to pagerank 6 again!this is truly well deserved.For my blog,my pagerank jumped from 0 to 5.quite scary but well predicted in webtool.I must be doing something real right!

  2. Great news about your PR6 being restored Darren. If Google can just snap it’s fingers and change yours in a zip. I think there would still be some more adjustments in the later days for some other bloggers.

    BTW, I started my blog 8-3-2007 and it shot up from N/A to PR4! The consistent blogging really pays off…

  3. Online Presence moved to a PR4 :-)

  4. Paul says:

    I think that Darren has pointed out something extremely important to all of us – dont rely on Google as your only source of traffic. Incidently I came back to the problogger site after reading about the recent update on another site – needless to say I imagine that any of the sites reportedly affected have actually seen traffic explosions in the past few days – with their brands being further exposed through blogs etc. For the big players they must be rubbing hands together at the exposure, for the smaller guys yet to become established independantly – dont try to sell links or pass traffic until your brand is big enough to cope with a google sneeze.

  5. Brian Clark says:

    David, there is a difference if the links are run through an ad server like Darren’s are.

    In other news, Copyblogger went up to PR 7 rather than down to 4. Not sure that means anything, but 7 is such a nice number. :)

  6. igizmore says:

    i don’t know about you guys but i just moved from a PR0 to a PR4 :D

  7. Elena says:

    Hmmm… do I delete all of the Paypepost postings that I have that I’m getting read to be paid over $100 for, or do I remove them to make Google happy, and get paid nothing just to have a higher page rank. I think it’s a no brainer.

  8. I’d been at PR5 for months. Even yesterday, I was a 5. Today, PR4. No text link ads on my site.

  9. OMG! I dropped to a 4. I have not been that low in years. Sickening. Glad you got your rank back. I’m just sick.

  10. Gary Grant says:

    We sell text links and we have a vast quantity of quality content. We dropped from pr5 to pr 4.

    Not impressed, but at least traffic is on the rise, even though we are having some very weird server problems that keep leaving us with a dreaded white screen for hours on end!

  11. Tom Hanna says:

    Any class action lawyers out there interested in this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference

  12. Triimart says:

    I don’t what’s happening with Google Page rank. Google Page rank have making changes in Google Page rank algorithm resulting in Fluctuations.

  13. I 100% agree with this one.

  14. Markk says:

    Darren, I got a nice number like you. But I’m not sure how it came about. Would love to have your input. Anyway, it’s a nice feeling.

  15. Michael Woo says:

    I think that this would be the last update for the third quarter.. since new sites also have their PR updated as well..

  16. Well, I have also been hit but not right that very moment when everybody complained about it, but 2 days later. I am not selling links but I don’t stress myself too much since everything else is the same

  17. As I mentioned, I did drop to a 4. I DO sell links text links. 6/10 right now. I did not have them last pr update. hmm… I also suspect some may remove their links due to a drop in rank. It will be interesting to find out. I guess this will give me the incentive to work on a different blog for a while. With a different subject matter. Sort of depressing and discouraging. I done complaining about it now. On with life.

  18. CompuWorld says:

    I have a PR of 3 even though I registered this URL 2 months back. I guess the reason is that I shifted from blogger to wordpress and migrated all my posts to wordpress which helped me earn backlinks very quickly..

    PR3 in 2 months…I am loving it!!

  19. thoughtworks says:

    Congrats on getting your PR back. Has been following your posts. I gained a PR3 from PR0. Not bad since I just started blogging for a month plus.

  20. I think that some of the sites that have been selling links are going to think twice about continuing, specially the ones that have been hit the hardest. We’re going to see many of these sites not living to their obligations to those who bought links from them, dropping their paid links and running for the reinclusion queue.

    If you are worried about some of your paid links being dropped, you may want to consider looking at http://www.LinkSnitch.com

  21. Alistair says:

    I have noticed blogger sites have higher PR although less back links !

  22. Strange effects on my site. Only the PR of english pages seems to be affected by Google Page Rank Pendulum…
    I don’t sell links…

  23. Rahul says:

    I fully concur with the your advise,
    it is precisely what google has said time and time again
    “Make sites for users and not search engines.”

    M.

  24. Peter Morrow says:

    My blog was boosted to PR 4 this morning. I am not sure where Google is going with this, but I definitely believe this is Google trying to directly control the direction the internet is taking economically. This may be their way of enforcing a Keynsian economic principle – in that they do not want want websites ganging together to control page rank (and thus profits), and it may also be their way of speeding up the marketing industry. Evidently, many websites will need to be more aggressive in buying ad space to maintain their profits. Am I on to something, or is this simply them trying to legitimize the original theory which PageRank was formed upon? I wrote a short article about this and would like to hear from you all. http://pmmoney.blogspot.com/

  25. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. says:

    Loose?

    LOSE.

    Come on, people!

  26. The sad part about adding no follow to sold links is that they become worthless to the buyer since the search engines can’t follow them and rank popularity. One of the first things i learned about exchanging links that they have little to no effect if the search engines can’t read and follow them.

    I have added a new blog page to my site to allow link exchanging. I call the program RSS links and it allows the party exchanging links with my website to write 500 or more words describing the content of their website. This establishes related content to their website on my website, and offers a bit of a pre-sell to their offers and information.

    In addition I have set up Feed Burners ping services to instantly blast these articles and links to the search engines meaning faster inclusion. All the links are rated higher because they relate to text on both websites. I get the benefit of higher quality links and partner added content.

    Andy Zeus Anderson
    http://www.andyzeusanderson.com

  27. I had a new blog I started and it has a big pr 4 so I was very happy about that. Dosn’nt mean that anything has changed but it does make me feel good. My site is still growing which is great and its growing more rapid now than it has sense it launched.

  28. Leon says:

    Hooray for you! Mine has a pathetic PR of 2.

  29. Friedbeef says:

    I’ve gone down from 5 to 4 and now to 3!!!

  30. I jumped from PR2 to PR4 (site launched 6 months ago) – and 2 other sites I manage went from PR0 to PR3 (sites launched 3 months ago). As I’m new at this I’m pretty pleased with that!

    Those that dropped for “no reason”. Quite possibly some of your more authoritative inbound links have been hit. e.g. I had some comments on blogs and forums that dropped from PR5 to PR2 (they were no-nofollows) – so that might explain why you’ve dropped

  31. Loretta says:

    Okay this whole PR mess has me looking at more individual pages this morning trying to tweak and optimize etc.

    And I realized that ALL my pages have PR assigned to them. Including new ones that I just made today. Every single page of my sites are displaying PR values in the toolbar.

    So is it changing to being whole site PR as opposed to single page PR?? Or is it just one of Google’s many wonderful dancing glitches?

    I looked all over this morning and didn’t read about that anywhere. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and other bloggers thoughts as well about this.

  32. Loretta says:

    Now that I’m clicking around other places I think it was just a toolbar glitch. Sorry for confusing everyone LOL

  33. Travel Guy says:

    This is definitely interesting. Had a couple blog sites just bumped up in PR, an ecommerce site fall off by 1, and a couple others stay the same. No text link ads on any of them. I suspect there’s more to this than just selling ads.

  34. Jens Meiert says:

    I may continue to emphasize that it’s probably a definition thing since links to donors or technology partners might also be considered “paid” …

  35. vic berggren says:

    So what’s the Path forward if you have honestly not sold or even purchased any links? That’s my situation.

  36. One of our sites with quite a few TLAs has just been put back up to PR5. Is the start of a Google rethink?

  37. vic berggren says:

    John do you do the “reconsideration” request or did this update back on it’s own? And Darren, how do you make such a request?

  38. Busy Mom says:

    In the past few hours, I’ve gone from 5 to 3, to 4, and, back to 3.

    I have 4 paid links.

    I’m dizzy.

  39. I have noticed on a few of our sites that it seems quite easy to get a PR4 from just a few links. It’s stepping up to PR5 that seems harder. As long as my rankings dont drop I am not really that bothered how big my PR is.

  40. Victoria says:

    My website dropped from page rank 4 to 3 last week and is now 2 :( I have NO paid links on my site and never have done. Can anyone help to explain this for me? Can google tell if the links are paid or not? I have 4 non paid links. Thank you for your help!

  41. RS says:

    If Google continues with these changes many of us will stop using AdSense and just have other ads. When we cant rely on Google and cant trust them, whats the point of using them?
    And when most of us leave them, they will have huge problems.

  42. snwop says:

    I fully agree with Aaron Wall: as long as Google benefits from selling links (AdWords), it will be OK; but if someone else gets the money, Google will try to penalize you.

  43. Google is not identifing correctly selling sites…

    i never sold a link from my site ucables.com, but this summer i put a link to my new girlffriend website about real estate: ibizaloft.com to help her to get some traffic and from october i lost my pagerank from 5 to 0.
    i have send some messages to google to reconsider my site, but i have not received any response after 2 months. My traffic decreased 20% and continue decreasing. I have removed this link already from my site.
    I think google should try at least to contact with owner before to do this type of action.
    Why not decrease rank of payed links from adsense too?
    Some years ago, when google was created we love google because, all service that offers was free, and contributed to the original internet spirit to share all, with easy and simple way.
    Actually google seems to be corrupted and bad directed for the money.
    Sorry my bad english i hope you can understand me.

    Happy Xmas!

  44. vidor says:

    I just read a report from Jon Leger mentioned that High PageRank Doesnt Means Good Rankings.

    Maybe this is a good info.

  45. e-leaguers says:

    Very helpful info. Will help on working my way up to SE’s. Thanks a lot

  46. Oora says:

    I just drop my TLA code from my site since it drops my PR from 4 to 0. By the way how to remove site/account from TLA ?

  47. Anthony says:

    So let me get this straight…….

    If Google lowers a page’s rank for having purchased text ads doesn’t that mean less traffic to the site and in turn, less visitors to click on Google Adsense ads? Google is shooting themselves in the foot.

  48. Darren Rowse says:

    Anthony – that’s one way of looking at it. However AdSense state many times that their AdSense and Search ranking departments are separate and that they make decisions on how sites are ranked without considering their use of AdSense.

    Also – when one site goes down another goes up, so no matter who is on top ad networks will be making cash.

  49. Sy says:

    In regards to your main advise, I agree with the fact that google isn’t the only sources of traffic or viewers, and that your page or site should have the appeal to draw your readers attention. Nevertheless you still have to get your site or blog to the readers in order for them to decide whether or not they choose to read or disregard it.

  50. Max says:

    This is what ticks me off about Google…