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Infamy! Infamy! They’ve All Got It In For Me…

November 21st, 2007 · 15 Comments

It’s over a month since the first reported signs that something was going on with the Google PageRank metric and it is still dominating a lot websites and blogs. The reaction to Google’s reduction of Toolbar PageRank (TBPR) is wide spread and, generally, vitriolic towards the Big G. Many bloggers and webmasters feel that they have been unjustly treated with this visible reduction of website libido and want to know the reasons why.

Up until this point, the official response from Big G has been..ermm..nothing. However, as many of you will already know, the chief of the Link Selling Police Department (LSPD), Officer Cutts, publishes his own blog which expresses views which are his alone, so help him God and he has suggested that you “Don�t mix your blackhat networks with your whitehat sites“.

Thanks, Matt. Glad you shared that with us.

After the public bun fight with Aaron Wall, I would have thought this was the perfect opportunity for Matt to push his disclaimer to one side and state the truth behind the matter. Sadly he doesn’t. Instead the 200+ comments on his blog post seem to suggest that the majority of people are unhappy that

  1. their PR has been zapped
  2. no official explanation has been forthcoming
  3. they feel victimised by the whole affair

Once again, the Google FUD seems to be in full effect. With no official response to the latest PR cull, the FUD factor rolls on and more and more people cow down to Google. Vlad the Affiliate, who I had previously held in high esteem for blocking the Googlebot from indexing his site, has caved in according to his latest update:

This experiment is over. Google is back crawling my website. Google wins.

How long before someone as vocal as Snoskred decides that the lure of Google is too great to continue her current path? I don’t necessarily agree with her latest post that Google are the new terrorist but I admire her balls. Figuratively speaking.

I said a while back that I will continue to use Google while they’re #1 on the block. I’m kinda changing my mind. This is partly due to the reasons I explained in my comment over at Matt Cutts’ blog:

One of the problems I think that a lot of people have is the perception of TBPR. That won’t go away until Google reword their public definitions:

“PageRank continues to play a central role in many of our web search tools” (taken from this page)

“Wondering whether a new website is worth your time? Use the Toolbar’s PageRank� display to tell you how Google assesses the importance of the page you’re viewing.” (taken from this page)

I had a number of my client sites who got a slap of between 1-2 points in the latest updates. None of them have ever indulged in paid links, dubious linking policies or any black hat methods. Their only guilt appears to have been appearing in my Webmaster Tools account. Call it guilt by association if you like because I am unclean. I used TLA as opposed to AdSense on a couple of my sites. Stone me now before I say it again…I’ll only make it worse for myself…

Having spent the last year or two working with these people, I was extolling the virtues of Google (as I have for nearly ten years) and explaining how TBPR was an indication of quality as far as Google were concerned. Call it the web based equivalent of a Michelin star if you like. So you can imagine my discomfort in having to explain to my clients why they were no longer a 4 star website but a 3 star one or, even worse, a 2 star one.

Now I fully understand that if a site linking in to one of mine has been zapped that this will have a knock on effect but, come on, have 30+ client sites really been linking out to or receiving links exclusively from spammers or black hat SEOs? Please. Credit me with some intelligence here.

Apart from all appearing in my Webmaster Tools account, the only other thing they had in common was a link back to my design site. A link that didn’t use a link condom. A site which, incidentally, is equally squeaky clean. Could that be the reason why? Hell if that’s the case then we’re all screwed and so is the fundamental idea behind PageRank.

Are all of the links back to your website in your templates no-followed? What about the pages in your “List of SEO Firms”?

Whatever happened to no-follow being used to stop blog spam? Has it now got to the point where we have to no-follow every single link just in case?

Up until comparatively recently I was still a big fan of Google. I championed them back in the 20th Century, dammit! However this, along with a number of other initiatives, has left a very nasty taste in my mouth. I genuinely do not believe that the current campaign has anything to do with SERPs relevancy. It’s all to do with protecting their cash cow. I also believe that algorithms have played little or no part in the implementation.

Doug, I’m directing this comment at you purely because you’re one of the most vocal supporters of Google in this discussion. If anyone else wants to chip in then feel free but, as you keep asking for examples, I’ll happily drop you an email with specific sites that got slapped by 1-2 points which I can categorically state did not, have not nor would they ever indulge in any shady practices. Matt those goes for you too but I’m guessing you have more pressing issues such as stock prices to deal with 😉

For those who have not been following the discussion, Doug appears to be a pro-Google kinda guy and I’m not calling out either Doug or Matt in this post but I am seriously questioning the motives, application and methodology behind this move. In fact, nuts to it, I’m gonna no-follow the link to Doug’s site just because I can.

Because that’s what Google are implying we do.

The sites I mentioned in my response above are guilty of nothing other than linking back to my website design company. They’ve never been involved in any kind of shady practice so why drop them by 1-2 PR points? Why drop their Michelin stars?

Why do a Bobbit?

It seems to be guilt by association and nothing else. Why are Google attacking the lifeblood of their multi billion dollar industry? Are they really attacking folks like me who were once staunch supporters?

I have no answers to this and, sadly, it appears that Google don’t either, but the fact remains that until they come out with an all encompassing response that the webmaster and blogging community will continue to stir things up and the G brand will continue to be dragged through the mud as a direct result.

P.S. I can’t claim any kind of credit for the title of this post. It comes from the film ‘Carry On Cleo’. I would include an Amazon link but I’m too shit scared that Big G will penalise me…

Tags: Search Marketing

15 responses so far ↓

  • Vlad // Nov 21, 2007 at 4:50 am

    Sorry for disappointment…

    I am not sure if my example would accomplish anything.

  • Snoskred // Nov 21, 2007 at 6:24 am

    You ask the question –

    How long before someone as vocal as Snoskred decides that the lure of Google is too great to continue her current path?

    Hi, my name is Snoskred, and I was a Googleholic. It has been 5 days since I visited one of their sites. It will be a freezing cold day in Hell before I use their search engine, email, rss feedreader or calendar again. I’m done. And when I say I’m done, I mean I’m done.

    I do have to go back to Blogger just to delete a bunch of old posts there at some point, and more than likely to close the blog and leave a “This blog has moved” notice.

    As far as how long will I stay vocal about it – this is a tricky one. My blog is usually positive and upbeat, and this topic feels pretty negative to me. I’m probably done, because the last post I did said everything I had left to say and I don’t think I could top it.. But never say never. And I do think I’d like to keep linking to sites which have posted articles on the topic.

    I was expecting a few negative comments but I wasn’t expecting some of the misinterpretations that happened. It surprised me.

    I am fairly sure from some of the things Matt has said recently that he is the one behind all the goings on. But maybe that’s just my interpretation.


  • bLuefRogX // Nov 21, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I agree about the PR thing, noone knows how the calculate it on how they slapped pages with PR reductions.

  • Mike // Nov 21, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    Vlad – Fair point and it was interesting to see how it panned out. Yeah it’s a shame that it didn’t work out but them’s the breaks, eh?

    Oh and to clarify I do still hold you in high esteem. I just re-read what I’d written and wanted to make that clear :)

    Snoskred – Yeah I’m in complete agreement with you that this is a negative topic. I think I’m just going to let it go now and get on with it. I’ve been feeling pretty drained by the whole negativity surrounding the subject so, like you, I think enough has now been said unless Big G comes up with another doozie!

    bLuefRogX – How it’s calculated is one thing. It’s fair enough if G don’t give that away but what has miffed most people is why there’s been no clarification why clean blogs or sites got the slap. If they could just come out with a definitive answer then at least people would know.

  • rob // Nov 24, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Mike,well said – I feel similarly.

    I’m educating everyone I know to the dark side that is they.

    There are alternatives that work equally well, people just need to be told they have a choice.

  • Mike // Nov 26, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    The problem is that the dark side isn’t necessarily as dark as it appears. There are so many good things to come out of the Plex. It’s just a shame that they seem to give with one hand and take away with the other.

    How are you enjoying your break?

  • Bush Mackel // Nov 26, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    *sigh* PR, PR, PR. I’m just sick of it. I wouldn’t be sick of it if Google just told us what the hell was going on. I mean, is that really too much to ask?

    Again – Why do they have webmaster tools, and not use it to inform webmasters of things like this! I think things would be much different if we just knew the freakin’ rules!…

    That way all the places that use PR as a barometer of some kind (like PPP and the like) could just decide, “Ok, PR is X so we’re instead going to do Y” Now RealRank may end up being that, but well…Who knows.

    I just gotta stop worrying about PR. It’s not healthy. (#):)

  • boris // Nov 27, 2007 at 2:15 am

    Google used a math model to figure this all out. Si if it looks like a skunk, and smells like a skunk, then it most likely is a skunk… Even if it is only linked to a skunk…

    I am not saying this site or any site is a skunk… I’m only attempting to make a point… This is software that is making a judgment, and not humans. So will always get picked up in these things that should not have…

    However, I have no sympathy for the link sellers and buyers… I may be somewhat new to SEO, but from the get-go I have seen this as a corrupt practice.

    Deep pocketed SEO’s just buy their way to the top… So it is not really SEO… I see paid links as the SEO drug of choice!

  • Mike // Nov 27, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Bush – Yeah I’m with you on that one. I’m not going to mention it again on here unless something ground breaking happens. Something in Webmaster Tools would be useful but I honestly can’t see it ever happening :(

    Boris – I have to disagree with you there, I’m afraid. If the only sites of mine that were penalised were the ones that ran TLA campaigns then I would probably agree that it was an algo change but almost all of my sites got blitzed including client sites which still rigidly to the Google guidelines. There’s no obvious reason why they would have taken a hit. In most cases the number of inbound links had increased since the last PR update.

    There also needs to be a clear distinction here in what is a paid link. In my mind there is a difference between running a TLA or PPP campaign and accepting money to drop a link into a page. Sure, the TLA/PPP links don’t use nofollow so are passing PR but there is a difference.

    A lot of the people who have used TLA/PPP in the past have done so without any knowledge or understanding of the PR implications – they’ve done it to make a few dollars on their small site.

    I think I would probably be correct in saying that the vast majority of the people who got slapped by Big G were unaware of the fact that they were passing PR to the sites that they were advertising on their sites.

  • tony // Nov 28, 2007 at 3:24 am

    RIP PR. To be honest I always though PR was overated.

  • Lokale // Jan 20, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I agree that PR is RIP. Even if you have high PR you can be easily past by some wannabe blackhat optimizer. It’s high time for google to be optimized.

  • JoeAnne70 // Jul 31, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Google is and will be the most powerful search engine on the Net, and it would be quite wrong to be in conflict with their policy. They managed to shut down my website on Detox because of some info that they didn’t like. That was so wrong.


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