Oct 08 2007

Careful, G might hear you

Published by at 9:39 pm under Google PageRank


There is a bit of controversy in the blogosphere about Google penalising blogs which provide paid reviews, text links ads and other such link selling.

While there hasn’t been a widespread PageRank update, many blogs have undergone a manual adjustment and witnessed their PageRank drop by one or two points (out of ten). How widespread this is, is hard to tell. Perhaps blog owners are just holding their breath hoping that their PageRank will return to normal. It has to be a big slap in the face for many of these “authoritative” (and I put that in quotes because this is what Google labeled them as, by giving them high PageRank) sites to be stung in such a manner.

Andy Beard is naturally not happy. Apart from being one of my favourite bloggers, in my opinion (be it a paid review or commentary), he always writes with the utmost integrity. He comments:

But a penalty on my visible Toolbar PageRank isn’t what Google are telling their users. Google users think my content is of less value, and has less authority. They don’t understand that Google also apply modifiers to the green bar which may be for reasons other than quality.

It is also a lie to potential advertisers – I don’t sell links, but I do sell my authority, and my hopefully increasing PageRank was a positive signal of quality relative to my increasing status within Internet marketing and Search Engine Marketing.

Google are attacking my personal brand, my business, and my integrity.

Andy has rightfully taken this personally. Why? Because he sold a few hours of his expert opinion, time, care and consideration for a few measly bucks (far less than he would earn per hour on the open market).

But Search Engine Land have it on authority that paid links can hurt your PageRank. Danny Sullivan also points to a sponsored Google ad that was displayed on his site advertising:

See the “Get A PR6 .Edu backlink!” ad? Expect those firing back at Google over the selling links issue to poke at the hypocrisy here.

Perhaps this is merely a prelude to a massive readjustment in the ranking of blogs which will come in the (near?) future.

This site used to be “unranked” (I’ve only been on this domain since May). It’s now displaying a PageRank of “0”. I don’t know if I’ve been manually ranked. I would prefer to be “unranked” than show a PR of “0”. With 22,500+ backlinks (albeit inflated) showing in my WebMaster tools, that’s a little insulting.

Google – if you are listening, I have NEVER had paid advertising on this site, apart from a few weeks of AdSense. I have NEVER sold a paid review. I have NEVER sold a paid link. I link out a lot. There’s a ton of links from this site. But I have NEVER made a cent from selling these links.

Just in case you were wondering….

* title is adapted from a 1983 Australian Movie title “Careful he might hear you

23 responses so far

23 Responses to “Careful, G might hear you”

  1. Ken Xuon 08 Oct 2007 at 10:17 pm

    So, the only way for blogger to earn a living online is to promote affiliate products and earn the commission?
    I’ve been wonder if google is suck and yahoo will take their place to give us a new solution of advertising without influencing any kind of TOS violation.
    Google has been so sensitive and cold blooded these days.

  2. Leighon 08 Oct 2007 at 10:35 pm

    I had noticed an update was in progress and came to congratulate you on finally ranking. I would have expected you to get at least a 5…but 0…what the!

    I lost 1 point on my main page, other sections and my other blog have stayed the same. I can live with that, it’s a damn sight better than the other punishment they gave me.

    Google are trying all they can to control the masses, makes you worry what it will be next?

  3. Matthewon 08 Oct 2007 at 10:37 pm

    If this is true (and I believe it is), then people affected have a right to be angry. It is very poor when rules or regulations are changed like this.

  4. Megon 08 Oct 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Hi Ken

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, there are those methods, and also AdSense – that seems to be ok 😉

    Hi Leigh – sorry you were a casualty. Do you suspect it has anything to do with your advertising? Or that you have a free links page (which I notice is, probably wisely, “no follow”) with a “featured” option?

    Appreciate that you were going to congratulate me. I had my acceptance speech sitting in “draft” 😉 It kinda sticks the knife in that my old blog is sitting nicely UNTOUCHED (for 5 months) on a PR 5.

    Hi Matthew

    Many thanks for your comment. I don’t know that it’s so much that the “rules or regulations” have changed. It’s more that you’re charged as “guilty” and have no opportunity to prove your innocence or plead mitigating circumstances.

  5. Snoskredon 09 Oct 2007 at 12:04 am

    I’m still a n/a according to the google toolbar, which I will soon be removing, I think. – Sephy has been a 0 for a while.. and he changed domains before I did. I don’t think a 0 is correct for your site and I wonder if it is really going to remain as that or whether it will change.

    If it does remain that? Then Meg my friend, it is time for us to promote a mass boycott of Google – and contact the ACCC, I think. Google is already being sued by them, so why not add breaches of the trade practices act to the list?

    Realistically that is what this is – I’m not a lawyer but it seems to me that Google is breaching the trade practices act in Australia. It might be time to have a read of that act, I think..


  6. Steven Snellon 09 Oct 2007 at 12:23 am

    It’s ridiculous how much power Google has.

  7. Sephyrothon 09 Oct 2007 at 1:33 am

    Meg, I’m in the same boat as you are with the PageRank update. My blogspot address is still at a PageRank of 3, but my sephyroth.net domain is a “confirmed” (going by one site’s lookup) PR0 blog. I don’t know why it’s marked as 0 – it certainly has authority on the results pages, but I think that might be something to say that “yes, we know your site is there but we can’t be stuffed to actually do something about it”

    As far as Ken’s point about affiliate marketing being about the only good way to make money again; I find the hypocrisy somewhat amazing from Google that they have a fit over people selling links on their site, but of course they make boatloads of money by selling links via AdSense.

    I am seriously beginning to think that Google doesn’t like us “little” guys out here…

    ps – the preview says that this is comment #6000; do i win something for that? hehe… 😉

  8. Sephy's Platzishon 09 Oct 2007 at 3:45 am

    This was the Week that Was, Vol. 16…

    I’ve had a busy week working on my new WordPress blog; I’ll be moving over hopefully sometime this week. I still have some tweaking to do on it and some kinks to work out; however, I have a bit of a p……

  9. rodon 09 Oct 2007 at 7:20 am

    Me thinks g should just ditch showing the green bar to the public! – the other thing to remember is the data we see is pretty old data and g has also stated to be possibly erroneous due to dodgy data dumps to the toolbar dc. Plenty of sites with 0 doing great and plenty with 7 not doing so great! Theres better measures.

    You know, the other thing worth considering is – does g really owe anyone anything, apart from the users of their index and the quality of results…?

    The other thing is – pr0,5,10,-10 whatever, I’m still going to read/contribute to your blog and others, because there good!

  10. Kinon 09 Oct 2007 at 9:39 am

    I won’t pretent to have any idea what half of this is all about, but I’ve been reading about it and it sounds so wrong to me. I hope Google wakes up soon, but unfortunately until they have some real competition, it probably won’t happen.

    I don’t even know what my page rank is (or if I have one?) but for the moment I’ll continue to revel in the fact Google loves me! For as long as possible!

  11. Peteron 09 Oct 2007 at 10:15 am


    I’m a little confused…so have the mighty “G” updated PR or not? Quite funny actually. From my experience I was a 1 and remained a 1 on my main blog page of my site. The less used pages of my site (pictures, about me etc…) all went up to a 3!!! LOL Go figure.

    I agree with snoskred. Time to dig into the Act a little more.

  12. Neeravon 09 Oct 2007 at 1:23 pm

    One 3 letter acronym explains Google’s current strategy – FUD


    Regarding pagerank in particular I would ignore it. If your site has quality content you’ll do well regardless of pagerank.

    Like Technorati or Alexa rank it’s really not a good indicator of website profitability or traffic

  13. Mike Macgirvinon 09 Oct 2007 at 1:59 pm

    I learned a long time ago that what Google giveth, Google can taketh away. If your web success or failure depends on PageRank, you better be prepared for the latter – since you not only have millions of other folks fighting over the pole position, you also have Google trying to prevent them (and you) from succeeding.

    But then I also tend to favor search engines that aren’t primary targets for manipulation. They usually provide more relevant results. When I use the big G, it’s usually more productive to skip directly to page 10 where there’s a fifty-fifty chance of actually finding what I was after. That drops to about a 0.1% chance on the first page and just wastes my time.

    SEO is a billion dollar industry that has a core mission of circumventing Google’s constant algorithm tweaks. When all is said and done, only one link gets the pole position no matter how many people fight over it. This means that the audience rarely sees the best and most relevant content for a search term. They only see the nastiest, meanest manipulators.

    I realize many of you are involved in and some make money in SEO activities. Apologies but I calls it how I sees it.

  14. Megon 09 Oct 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Snos – I can’t comment on the legalities, not knowing enough about it. Strikes me it’s their system, they can do what they want. Don’t like it? Tough.

    Sephyroth – I am sincerely hoping it doesn’t have anything to do with the “dofollow” movement. I just have an uneasy feeling…

    Not sure what the 6000 is about, but your comment was #2545 so no steak knives just yet!

    Rod – I reckon that’s an option (dropping toolbar). Doesn’t matter to me as I’m NOT selling anything (esp. on the basis of PR). If they’re concerned about people abusing their PR (by selling on the basis of it) then get rid of it. I just find it a bit insulting that my site has an apparent authority (value) of “0”, even if I’m doing well in the search results.

    Waiting 5 months and being “unranked” is cool with me, G don’t owe ME anything. I’m grateful that they include me in their search. I just don’t understand what I did or didn’t do to be given a “0”. What I think they DO owe website owners is a set of defined parameters, and perhaps steps to take for re-consideration.

    Google states:

    “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value.” and


    Google’s complex automated methods make human tampering with our search results extremely difficult.”

    Kin – you keep revelling girl, and forget all the nonsense!

    Peter – I honestly don’t know. There has certainly been movement, but whether it’s an “adjustment” or a full on “update” remains to be seen. You’re the first person I’ve heard of to notice an increase!

    Neerav – I know! But as I mentioned to Rod – I’d really like to know what I did or didn’t do.

  15. Megon 09 Oct 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Mike

    “They only see the nastiest, meanest manipulators.”

    Ouch! It’s not ALL bad! It IS possible to get there without being nasty, or mean – I’ve done it a few occasions myself – either accidentally or by design.

    What SEO does mean is knowing the rules and playing by them. Getting RELEVANT content to the number one position without breaking the rules is not bad, its playing the game.

  16. Scott Yangon 09 Oct 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Meg,

    A page rank of 0 means that this site is currently in something called “sandbox” — search for “Google sandbox” on the net for more info. A new domain starts unranked, and then it will be in the sandbox for a while to prove itself. Google does it to penalise new domains as there are way too many spam sites with new domains.

    I say there is nothing you need to worry about. First of all the PageRank on Google toolbar is not accurate anyway and it only refreshes every few months so it might not even affect your SERP ranking. Also most websites get out of sandbox sooner or later. I am sure you’ll be out of there in the next toolbar PageRank update.

  17. Kinon 09 Oct 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Hehe, I will Meg. I’m so stoked cause this week I’ve figured out co.mments AND feedburner. It’s so sad!

  18. Gregon 09 Oct 2007 at 7:40 pm

    I have participated in a wide range of advertising including paid links and posts and haven’t had any major problems with page rank movements. I think the movements is really aimed at the big players rather than little bloggers so i will keep making the money

  19. Robert MacEwanon 09 Oct 2007 at 10:26 pm

    I just found out yesterday my rank has dropped to a PR5 after years of PR6. What’s even more disturbing is that an advertiser told me. Just out of the blue…

    obertray acEwanmay 😉

  20. Megon 09 Oct 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Kin – LOL, watch out for the learning curve – if it’s too steep you’ll get dizzy 😉

    Greg – shhhhh, but glad to hear it.

    Robert – OUCH :(

  21. rodon 10 Oct 2007 at 9:30 am

    I kinda agree, but if they let too much out they’re open to reverse engineering like in the past. G: 5 month old site, still a pup – majority links into the site probably only 2-3 months old – hmmm lets wait and see….14-18 months on…ok we trust you now – go free but were watching!

    In one of your other posts was something about favorite things, here is some of mine:
    song – Janis Ian – Run too fast fly too high and a book by Scott Peck – The road less traveled – he rambles on about delaying gratification and such.

    Just about the green stuff again – has no direct relationship to ranking, does have relationship to indexing (rate of, depth of). Green stuff we see=erroneous and not a true reflection. If your ranking your cool although bit of rollercoaster until a bit of trust kicks in. Old story, just build on quality and they’ll come..

  22. Megon 10 Oct 2007 at 11:31 am

    Hi Rod,

    I think I was just spoiled because inside 4 months on wordpress.com I managed to get a “5” with similar type linkage.

    Thanks for your faves – I haven’t thought of Janis Ian in ages…

  23. rodon 10 Oct 2007 at 1:16 pm

    Ya know thats kinda interesting, wordpress is a well aged domain and theres always been speculation that sub can skip some of the filtering ie not a new domain. There was a little subliminality in those faves but they are faves!