Google Page Rank Woes

Posted Oct 27, 2007
Last Updated Nov 11, 2011

I was so caught up in some projects over the last few months that I have let my website slide in terms of new content and maintenance. So when I checked my page rank earlier this month I was not altogether surprised that my Google page rank dropped. But then it dropped again. My site was (at one point a few years ago) a PR 6. Over the last year or two, it has fluctuated between 4-5. Now, Google has suddenly dropped it to a 2!

Well, such a drastic change forced me to look into the issue. To my disdain, it appears that Google has decided that my site is doing something bad. From my searches online, it appears that Google is now specifically slashing the Page Rank of websites it feels are spamming, link farming or selling links.

Have I ever sold links? Yeah, I’ve sold a few. But with thousands of pages online for the last seven years, the number of links I have sold is less than two dozen. The vast majority of links from my website to any other site are there because I felt the links were of value in some way to my visitors and readers. I simply don’t see how this site could be construed as trying to undermine the results on Google.

I don't even partake in link exchanges. When people email me about exchanging links, the email goes straight to the trash can. I figure that if my site is good, people will link to me. The only time you will see a lot of link exchanges between my site and another is if I own both sites and am trying to let everyone know about my other sites. But that is even minimal: try to find links to this site from my other large art site (The Artistic Network) and you will have to dig quite a bit!

Spamming? Well, there are sometimes snippets of text that are not always visible on my pages—like the drop down menus that help you navigate. They are invisible until you hover your mouse over them. But spamming is not what I do. All of my efforts over the last few years are pointed at delivering a high-value website for my visitors.

Link farming? Well I often add links to my website on other sites I build. And when I make a new site, I usually make a link to it from my site to let visitors know about my new project. Is that a link farm?

I am certainly not happy with this sudden hack and slash of my page rank. But as much as I do not agree with this result, I understand Google’s motive. I just don’t agree with their method—as it is going to make it difficult for people like me to put forth the effort in developing useful and creative content for the world—if people like me suddenly disappear from search engine results, it will give us less incentive to share our work and diligently create new things.

I have updated the Webonizer CMS to have a "nofollow” attribute to the external links system. (On this site, I can add a link to a general category so that it will appear in all articles that are part of that category. Generally speaking, I add links to those categories if I think they are relevant to those categories. Now those links have nofollow attributes in the links. While this seems like the most likely cause for my being affected by Google’s new policy, the ironic thing is that none of those links have ever been bought. Any link purchased on my site have an image above them: sponsor icon)

Google has been a leading developer of online tools for years. I have liked and supported Google for a long time. While Google’s new policy has negatively affected me, I am continuing my support of the company. At the same time, I hope that it quickly learns how to tell the good guys from the bad guys… or else their advice/motto of "Don’t be evil” should be revised to "Don’t be innovative”. This new change is going to create a new paranoia amongst developers like me who are afraid to make any link on any page without using the "nofollow" attribute--which will essentially destroy the link sharing value of any page and lessen good-faith linking on good sites to other good sites.

Further Reading

Below are some links to articles about the new Google Page Rank onslaught:

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