Matt Cutts emailed Search Engine Journal last night to let us know that in fact, the partial Google ‘Toolbar’ PageRank update which happened last week was a result of Google’s campaign against paid linking and advertisement links which influence PageRank.
The partial update to visible PageRank that went out a few days ago was primarily regarding PageRank selling and the forward links of sites. So paid links that pass PageRank would affect our opinion of a site.
Going forward, I expect that Google will be looking at additional sites that appear to be buying or selling PageRank.
No word from Matt Cutts or Google yet on how exactly sites are targeted for Google’s change of opinion, or how a site can redeem itself (if it wants to do so, as PageRank seems to have no effect on rankings or Google search traffic).
This is however, one of the first responses from Google on the PageRank update, and its effect on sites which sell paid links, so if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below.