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Google’s PageRank: A Double Edged Sword

Last week when I first noticed PageRank values changing and propagating out to tool bars, I made it a point to tell some others who may be interested. In the process, I got a great comment from Vanessa Fox that I’d like to share here…

“Why should I be so bitter about a mythical made up meaningless number?”

All kidding aside, Vanessa’s comment is absolutely on point with how many feel on the issue.

Being involved in the search marketing industry automatically subscribes you to caring about PageRank. From building and retaining PageRank, we obsess – despite the fact that we know it is completely irrelevant to rankings and results.

Even worse is that PageRank only serves as a currency exchanged between site owners and link brokers who intend to game the system. Google warned us all, and now marketers are dealing with the repercussions of ignoring the message handed down.

Even among the most popular and reputable sites — this most recent update saw PageRank values drop. In turn, the changes caused site owners to become more concerned and irate with the system… and that process is still ongoing.

The trouble is that there is an element of reputation involved. We like to stand by our sites with a big old grin as high numbers show along tool bars filled with green.

When things like PageRank are cut in half though, we immediately wish the worst upon Google. In many cases too, those thoughts are justified.

Kim Krause Berg is one of the many wonderful people I met at SMX Social in New York, and she had more to offer on how her site (www.cre8pc.com) was impacted:

I refuse to be bullied and that’s why I’m pulling Google AdSense from the forums. We never bought links (or ad space) from anywhere… …Google punishes web site owners and while I can see it for obvious spam and forced rank in SERPS, I don’t see why they fly around on their broom as they do.

While I hope that I have preserved enough of the context of the above conversation — I think the point made is clear. Site owners and webmasters are now so irate at Google’s treatment and changing of PageRank values, that it is bleeding through in other areas.

The title of this article of course is a cliche… So let’s finish off on the same note in an effort to send a small message to Google. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” comes to mind… While we are all highly opinionated, and often times controversial — we as search marketers often fuel the growth of Google dependency among those interested in search marketing.

As such, if Google’s efforts to police things algorithmically backfire and cause alarm to those in the industry — watch out.

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11 thoughts on “Google’s PageRank: A Double Edged Sword

  1. Vanessa may well say it’s a ‘meaningless little made up number ‘and whatnot, yet the reality is that Google say that TBPR is a measure of how much importance they place on a site. When they slash ones ‘importance’ then it’s only natural to feel a little miffed by it all, especially if you feel it’s unjustified.Whatever way you dress it up, it’s an attack.

    It’s a classical stroke of theirs mind – hit the most vocal and send out a message. Seems to have worked too, the message being Don’t do paid reviews, don’t link to paid review services (nofollowed or not) and don’t do paid links and perhaps most importantly don’t get caught doing so either.

    Oh well, there’s always the confess your sins reinclusion route I guess

  2. Just a minor correction…Cre8pc.com wasn’t hit. It was one of my other sites, Cre8asiteforums, that was. While TBPR began to crawl back up, I stopped checking to see what’s happening. We’re choosing another revenue route. This experience just spurred me to get off my butt and get going on it :)

  3. Loren

    Rob is smart enough to notice that you are not dofollow anymore so it wouldn’t help him, but it might be a branding exercise, or an attempt to gain more clicks.

    I agree with Rob, and made that specific point before. The possible slander and defamation is in how Google describe their toolbar pagerank to their users.

  4. Just curious on why he would use that title for his comment – kind of jolting. But, all comments are welcome :)

    Hmmm…a bit off topic but according to Ask they ignore NoFollow completely and anchor from comments seems to work well on MSN, hence my asking “Are you trying to rank high on Ask and MSN ?”

    Ok, on with the On Topic comments! Thanks for the participation in conversation.

  5. Hehe – yes I want to be numero uno for crappy worthless blog, not to forget of course; well known as that ‘Crappy worthless Blog’. Google think so, if my tbpr is to be believed that is :D

  6. “we as search marketers often fuel the growth of Google dependency among those interested in search marketing.”

    Interested point, though Google would only care about those it can hook into using AdWords. Webmasters interested in search marketing Google can live without. All it needs are 1) searchers 2) AdWords Advertisers.

  7. Toolbar pagerank is a scale from 0-10 to represent the real pagerank number on their back end. How that real number is distributed on the 0-10 scale could change with every update since the gap between 3 and 4 could be completly different from 4 to 5. It’s so rough it’s *nearly* meaningless to use as anything more than a hot/warm/cold gauge.

    Real pagerank is an overall, popularity/attribution score with a ton of tweaks and corrections (even before penalties) just so it can generally converge depite the fact the problem grows (new pages) and shrinks (page not found/dropped pages) every second of every day. Not to mention, the distribution of main to supplemental index changes all of the time and that’s a pretty big factor as well that skews PageRank’s efficacy. In order to ensure that penalties appropriately affect all pages they point to, they have to be introduced during calculation which means that they offer skew to (but maybe not “correction” of) the algorithm.

    Page-rank in it’s original form was certainly context indepenant. I think people need to get less hung up on a 3 or 4 use it more like a general gauge to say whether you’re doing better than the next guy in the SERP. If you are, than it’s likely you need other factors to bring you up. Anchor-text, title tags, etc… still matter.

    As for people getting all flustered about going up or down or getting penalized, I’d make sure they understand it’s not a fixed score on a fixed scale. If you were at the bottom end of 4 and you got bumped to the top end of 3 simply because more pages are part of the equation or because where the 4 line has moved, that might not really be a big deal.

    Finally, it doesn’t take a genious to realize they can spoof TBPR whenever and however they want for any targeted site if it meets their webmaster relations agenda. There is no garauntee that Google was “telling the truth” about where you stand or what you pass to others when the snapshot was taken.