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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. Mike Andrew says:

    I didn’t experience any fall in PageRank around the time of the October PR update by Google, but in late February 2008 I have seen many sites, including my own SEO company site experienced a drop in PageRank. I understand paid links can cause a site’s PR to fall but I can confirm that no inbound links have been purchased and no outbound links have been sold.
    In all the years I’ve been engaged in SEO work this is the first time I’ve ever taken a hit in PageRank.
    What other explanations are there for a drop in PR?

  2. What is Google doing with its PageRank? My site has just dropped down from a PR2 to PR1.

  3. I too have been penalised by Google during this most recent update in PageRank. I wonder why Google is being so harsh this time around?

  4. I want to keep hold of my PR4 so I’m definitely going to steer clear of buying directory links.

  5. enfopedia says:

    What can a new site expect to receive from Google in Terms of Ranks, ex: PR 3, PR4..etc

    Any comments would be great.

  6. cd says:

    This is my best site: good quality, unique subjects. Still I have cover the cost + my time spending blogging it. PG has dropped from 4 to 0. That’s freaking nut!!!! I do sell TLA + Linkworth and have Amazon affiliates. But what is it that we suppose to do. Spend a huge chunk of a day and provide information for free? Geez! So let say I removed Linkworth which is at the sidebar. Will TLA embedded in post + Amazon affiliate link hurt my side?

    Thanks

  7. Can anyone tell me how long it will take before my site gets a PageRank and appears well on Google. I have just taken over a Guest House in Grasmere and I have a brand new domain and the site only went live yesterday. I have started building some directory links, but I am wanting to know roughly how long it will take before the site is generating bookings?

  8. Alistair says:

    Hi there Grassmere bed and breakfast,

    Can I suggest you submit your site to google…please read:

    http://www.google.com/submit_content.html

    Do not worry about Page Rank – you can have a very high page rank but score very low in google search results.

    I also suggest adding your site to places like:
    http://www.iknow-lakedistrict.co.uk
    and
    http://www.bedandbreakfasts.co.uk

    (they are top of google when Grasmere and Bed and Breakfast is googled)

    Hope this helps

    Alistair

  9. this is an excellent article, but what can I do to increase traffic to my site, if not increase PR ?

  10. Dr. Barnes says:

    Our 6 year old site http://www.medassistant.org just went from a PR4 to a PR 2 overnight, yet we are ranking well for keywords. Does anyone have a theory and is this something we should be concerned about? thanks!!

  11. I personally think PR is not as important as it was. Google seems to be steering down a lexical keywords / page keyword density route (back to the old days of excite! in 96). Link text is still as important as ever, both internal and external. Whatever, Google is doing these days they seem to be purposefully leaving themselves open to increased manipulation by SEO professionals and weakening the index as a whole. I mean bulk cross-linking and lexical keywords stuffing in titles, they should have an algorithm to kick that stuff out, shouldn’t they? but I plead guilty on all counts;)

  12. Another point is this, how does google determine linking/cross linking against paid for links? One way they could do this is to check whether links are between sites on the same IP block / IP address – if so they are highly unlikely to be ‘paid for’. However, there are tonnes of sites linking to each other without penalty. The thing to bare in mind is that Google has always stated that it rather solve the problem via the algorithm as opposed to direct intervention as this is the only long-term solution for a viable index.

  13. Tony says:

    Re : Alistair’s comments – I get LOTS of traffic via this one – a bit like some of those you mention but much more personal – see http://www.uk-expo.com/bnb/

  14. David Bradley says:

    Anyone been affected by the Jul-Aug 2008 pagerank swing…? Expecting to regain ground if you lost it in this round?

  15. I’m not so sure the page rank has as much weight as it used to have. Low ranked sites can be on page 1 of Google and higher ranking sites with more daily traffic can be indexed further back on Google. Its not getting any easier, thats for sure.

  16. I’m pleased to say that that update didn’t do me any harm, although some webmasters I knew weren’t so lucky. A year on an the same Google Dance is being played.

  17. Thanks for the information, I have been working on increasing my Page Rank for sometime and had made some great headway and then in one day to go back to the beginning. The comments and the story make me wonder do I need to focus on Page Rank as much as I have been and I guess the answer is no.

  18. I really don’t think PageRank plays a very big part in a site’s overall placements on Google. I’ve been lucky enough to retain my PR4 whilst competitor sites have seen their PR decrease, but I can’t say it’s had much impact, if any, on our placements.

  19. Thanks for the clear help on requesting reconsideration. I got bumped from 5-4 and it does make a personal difference to me. All I have done is add a few blogs to my blogroll and I do that regardless of their page rank. If I like them it makes no difference.