Google, Alexa and Technorati Chomp My Bit

The blogsphere is abuzz with Google’s recent PageRank recalculations. The “slaps” and “pats” are controversial because big blogs (,,, and many many more) have seen their PR jump around more than an Asian boy band.

The reason for the heated discussion that has come out of this is that Google is “punishing” sites that sell links, under the idea that such sales of links is designed to give the buyers unearned authority in the SERPs.

Why doesn’t Google love me?

The big question on everyone’s mind is: Is PR really that important? Aaron Brazell (Technosailor) says no and gives some solid reasons why. Reasons I, for the most part, agree with. Most pointedly, PR doesn’t seem to affect rankings in the search results. And if it doesn’t help your search ranking, what is it?

In my opinion, it’s popularity and bragging rights. Whereas in affluent circles you compare car, suit and watch brands, in our geekly little online world, we compare PR, Alexa rankings and Technorati backlink numbers. Regardless of social position, we’re human, we strive on competition.

If I go from a PR0 to a PR5, which this blog just did, I feel all warm and tingly and get a sense that I’m doing something “right”. However, when you have Internet Stars sitting on a PR7+ and suddenly finding themselves around a PR3 or PR4, of course you’re going to get some shouts and cries of “Burn Google Burn!”. Not (just) because it may cause a loss of traffic and in turn a loss of revenue, but rather because it pricks the pride.

For further proof that this is happening, simply look at the response. Near everyone affected is acting like the runner-up at a beauty contest, pulling the “it’s a stupid award, and I didn’t want it anyway” line of saying PR is irrelevant (whether it is or isn’t, is beside the point). Many of these folks are the same people that have devoted post after post on improving PR, Alexa and Technorati rankings – at which point one assumes they most definitely thought it was important.

There must be a better system of feedback

The problem, of course, is not with us Web geeks that like to check out our stats in amazement that anyone bothers to visit our sites, it’s that we use benchmarks that aren’t benchmarks at all as gratification for that work. Google’s “authority” isn’t really “authority” at all. WTF do they know? They’re just geeks like us, amazed as shit that people are visiting their site.

The hypocrisy of Google punishing Web developers who sell links on their sites, when that’s exactly what Google’s AdWords program does on their pages, is laughable. It’s enough to make this lowly writer cum designer question why it is we give so much power to a company that has gotten rich off the backs (read: content) of others, and then why we further empower that site in deciding which of our sites are worthy of people finding.

Surely there’s a better metric. If Google can’t keep their search results relevant because I choose to sell links on my site, perhaps they need to reconsider how they calculate “authority”, and let us do what the fuck we want with our sites.

Using ProBlogger as an example, Darren is, without argument, one of the best resources on the Web for bloggers looking to make money and run successful blogs. Under Google’s system, if Darren sells a bunch of links on his blog, Google will make it difficult for others to find him and his valuable content. How does that make sense?

Darren’s most recent post
sums up things nicely:

My main advice to publishers whether they decide to sell or not sell text links hasn’t really changed – forget about Page Rank and build a better blog. Build a quality site that builds community, attracts readers from as many sources as possible (relying upon Google traffic as a sole source of traffic isn’t a smart move) and build a blog that enhances people’s lives. This way you don’t need to rely upon Google (or any other single site) to send you traffic and keep you profitable.

As John Chow, when he was “slapped” by Google back in June, said, “Live by the Google, die by the Google.”

5 thoughts on Google, Alexa and Technorati Chomp My Bit

  1. Yes, lots of nerves bubbling around on the Internet about this. Far from blog specific too.

    For me, the problem of Pagerank boils down into two key points:

    1. Pagerank attempts to model the authority of a site. But authority on what matters? Should an authority on Nuclear Physics comment on sexism and be treated with the same authority? Probably not.

    2. Search results change over time., the site I and others are working on yet never have much time to commit to, just got a PR4 which is consistent with where it should be in the search results compared to other sites relating to Dalian, despite it being far from finished. We’ve crept up slowely. Once a month search rankings from Dalian to spaghetti go very funky, which I guess is Google updating their internal stuff. Google does a big Pagerank update, it seems, once every 6 months or so, making their incremental changes public.

    The rank of a site in relation to keywords is even more important. Just keep writing decent stuff related to the stuff you know about and all will be well, me thinks.

    BTW: Sites getting knock-down in Google are not unusual. The ‘duplicate content penalty’ has been around for a good while. If Google picks the same content up on two sites and figures one had that content sooner, the other site gets obliterated in search rankings – not always but often enough to make it a not very good strategy, which seems to be the case in selling links to improve authority where there may be no actual authority deserved. Perhaps the little Search Engine Bots don’t like what seems like fraud to them. Worse things happen in this world.

  2. I think it’s best to build your site as honestly as possibly, because if you try to cheat for a better pagerank today, google may figure out a way to catch you later down the road.

    Too bad that sites like Problogger were hit. Maybe it was their writing projects that killed their PR? (those pages could easily get mistaken for link farms)

    Hopefully they are the exception to a rule that works in 99% of other cases.

    Who knows? Maybe this new scheme does work better. There are supposedly less link-farm sites showing up in search results these days, and that’s a good thing.

  3. The only thing the toolbar pagerank is good for is paid advertising/links and showing SE strength. The pagerank drop in most of my sites didn’t result in a drop in traffic… yet.

    I am personally overwhelmed by how Google is enforcing a change in how things are done in the web. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something quite like this before, apart from Microsoft doing the same in the OS area. I honestly can’t see how they’ll be able to get away with something like this for long.

    Manual penalties? asking for reconsiderations? it’s almost like mainland China. At least with Adsense it’s a service that you don’t have to have, they let you know what you’ve done and give you time to change that (3 days), but in this case – Google’s search engine accounts for 75% of Internet search, it’s all speculation based on rumors running around and the result is general chaos.

    The whole way Google is doing this looks like bad news. This move might make sense, as those paid links do abuse the algorithm. BUT, the way this is done can not be a good thing for the web.

    Some people make a lot of money from paid links, and that would be a problem for a while, but I trust the people will find the way to go beyond that.

  4. You Vill Conform!!!!

    Matt Cutts is the anti-christ, but we do biz with Oracle who’s marketing manager is prez of the Google council, so maybe they will take care of us out of the goodness of their monopolistic hearts…

    Yes, I hit my head earlier today…


  5. I agree to you. I think how google come to know that some one site is selling links and punish that one. On the blogging sites, its true we work as SEO for some sites, a lot of valued material is available. Why google plenty them?
    As google says, internet for human. we are humans and we need money then why not internet for money?

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