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Matt Cutts Explains PageRank Reduction for Websites Selling Links
abhishekmishra




msg:4489033
 11:10 am on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

The usual reason why a site’s PageRank drops by 30-50% like this is because the site violates our quality guidelines by selling links that pass PageRank [mattcutts.com ]

 

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4489040
 11:31 am on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

In particular, earlier this year on [website] we saw links labeled as sponsored that passed PageRank


note to self: be very careful not to have any link be near the words "sponsored results" and similar unless it has nofollow because this *detection* by Matt and his team is also likely done by algo.

In fact, we received a outside spam report about your site.


Even if that's true in this particular case I don't buy that nitpicking on your competitors can impact serps as easily as Matt suggests because it's not scalable without algo help. One less flag to worry about...

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4489042
 11:44 am on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

And here I was thinking that PageRank was no longer important? ;)

Marketing Guy




msg:4489043
 11:46 am on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

It seems to have been triggered from the fact that they've been specifically caught selling links *based on their PageRank*. Google can always have the defence that this manipulates their algo so they can take action against it.

Taking action against a site that sells ad space when Google offers a competing product in Adsense is a whole other anti-competitive ballpark though. A space that Google is edging closer to all the time, but never publicly sets foot in. The best they can do is strike fear into webmasters in cases like this by repeatedly refering to the entirely technical process of a penalty as being "our trust in the website has declined".

In this case Google has justification to penalise the site (i.e. evidence of wrong doing). The insinuations that there's a trust issue or links labelled as being sponsored are the cause are just to fuel speculation and paranoia.

More and more these days I think that Google's nickname of the "Chocolate Factory" and its religous undertones is increasingly appropriate.

Shaddows




msg:4489048
 11:59 am on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

And here I was thinking that PageRank was no longer important?


No mention of any ranking impact, just a plain devalution of PR and presumably link sale-value.

Anyway, no one knows what happened to the Internal PR calculation, just what the toolbar shows.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4489063
 12:55 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Kinda funny that Matt Cutts has the cajones to tell a newspaper that their revenue model is penalized.

Lookey here Mister newspaper, we have market power and we make no bones about abusing it. The hubris is very telling.

netmeg




msg:4489082
 2:02 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nope, I think he's right in this case. They're not entitled to Pagerank (or traffic) and didn't a court at one point rule that Pagerank was an opinion? Thus Google is entitled to their opinion of the paper's paid links. All they had to do was slap nofollow on those suckers and no harm no foul - they still get paid and they keep their Pagerank. Unless the links really *were* sold for Pagerank.

[edited by: netmeg at 2:03 pm (utc) on Aug 28, 2012]

deadsea




msg:4489083
 2:03 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

If they are clearly marked as "sponsored", shouldn't that be enough? The spammy links are the ones that are sold placed on a page in a manipulative manner. Not the ones that are clearly labeled.

I understand that nofollow is a bit more machine readable for Google, but discounting links around the word "sponsor" wouldn't be that hard to implement either.

netmeg




msg:4489087
 2:06 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe, but Google has said pretty clearly if you don't want an ad or paid link to look like it was sold to manipulate rankings, then put nofollow it. One can wait for Google to implement what should be enough, or one can be practical and work with what they've said.

Shaddows




msg:4489088
 2:08 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

abusing it

Several things
1) Awarding PR is not a market. You therefore can't abuse your market power.
2) Newspaper rev models are normally derived from circulation plus advertising. Advertising rev is derived from circulation, or impressions. Basing it on PR is not an established newspaper model. It IS the established model of Linksellers, which Google has been vocal about fighting since it's inception
3) Hubris, Google has in spades. Changing a fictional number that has little bearing on ranking is not an example of that.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4489094
 2:11 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Of course the obvious point here is that google is attacking a competing revenue model, it has nothing to do with quality. I was just a bit surprised that they would be so cavalier about it.

A paid link doesn't necessarily mean it's a "spammy link" an argument could be made that paid links offer better insight into the content of the linked document, it could very well be a quality signal.

Shaddows




msg:4489099
 2:28 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Of course the obvious point here is that google is attacking a competing revenue model

The paper is not competing with Google. It is using a Google-provided badge (PageRank) to engage in behaviour Google specifically prohibits. I'm surprised Google didn't grey-bar them.

A paid link doesn't necessarily mean it's a "spammy link" an argument could be made that paid links offer better insight into the content of the linked document, it could very well be a quality signal


They're not saying its spammy, and they're not penalising. They are changing a fictional number to supress link selling- a practice which they have been vocally against in order to protect one of their key innovations.

Incidentally, they are spreading FUD. Don't assist them by misunderstanding precisely what MC said.

They changed a fictional number, then shouted about it to supress the paid link market. FUD.

Edit:
See also: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt - Why Google Penalises Paid Links [webmasterworld.com]

TypicalSurfer




msg:4489114
 2:53 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Shaddows. FYI google is in the advertising business with over 90% of their revenue derived from people clicking on THEIR paid links. You can't claim that they are "defending their innovation" when it is apparent that they are defending their revenue source.

The message to Mister newspaper was "put our spammy adsense links on your content and you'll be OK".

netmeg




msg:4489115
 3:05 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Actually that wasn't the message at all. They're perfectly ok now; at least I saw no sign that they'd lost traffic or rankings (although that could happen eventually) All they need to do is put a label on a link and go their merry way. AdSense isn't even relevant here (for all we know they ARE running AdSense - most newspapers run a mix)

Google made up Pagerank, so they're free to set the standards. If Pagerank is important to you, then live by the standards or let go on Pagerank. If I invent NetmegRank (and I have, I just don't issue a badge or number, ork ork) then I get to set the standards, and if people are silly enough to put a value on that, then they gotta live up to my standards.

There's no good or evil here - it is what it is.

atlrus




msg:4489140
 3:41 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I agree with TypicalSurfer - newspapers make money by selling ads and PR is just another metric to them to sell that advertising.

And the paper is using the PR in the same way they would use, let's say, a "best product" award. In other words, the newspaper is saying "Come advertise with us, we were awarded "PR7" by Google", much in the way a company could say "Come buy from us, we were awarded "A" by the Better Business Bureau".

As far as I know, there are no restrictions on how a website can use the PR number google provides. Therefore the newspaper has every right to sell advertisement and use the PR as an incentive. What's more, we all know that the PR number is absolutely useless for anything but link selling. If google didn't want this to happen, you would assume they'd removed it a long time ago...

netmeg




msg:4489141
 3:43 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sure, they have every right. But every action has consequences.

atlrus




msg:4489150
 4:01 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google made up Pagerank, so they're free to set the standards. If Pagerank is important to you, then live by the standards or let go on Pagerank. If I invent NetmegRank (and I have, I just don't issue a badge or number, ork ork) then I get to set the standards, and if people are silly enough to put a value on that, then they gotta live up to my standards.


I agree with you, but NetmegRank's standards ought to be made public in order for this to work :)

I don't know of any PR standards, requirements, requisites or such. It's just a number that google shows about a specific page. I don't know how it came to be that particular number. Google doesn't tell me how it arrived to that number. And I am fairly certain there is nothing saying that you can't use the PR number for monetary gains.

The violations Cutts is talking about are not PageRank violations, because there are no PageRank guidelines or terms in order to violate them in the first place.

atlrus




msg:4489153
 4:04 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sure, they have every right. But every action has consequences.


But why should there be "consequences", if they have the right?

aakk9999




msg:4489156
 4:20 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)



Sure, they have every right. But every action has consequences.


But why should there be "consequences", if they have the right?


Google has also every right to downgrade TbPR (or PR) too. These are consequences.

Shaddows




msg:4489162
 4:27 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

As far as I know, there are no restrictions on how a website can use the PR number google provides

AFAIK, there are no restrictions on what number Google gives a website.

What I now know (and frankly a lot of people knew already) is that they reduce it (or stop providing one at all) if they don't like what you're doing with it.

And again, it doesn't affect your rankings. And the only reason MC is talking about it is to make sure we're talking about it- because he wants to supress the paid link market.

Frankly, I take the pragmatic view outlined by Netmeg. It's Google's number, play by their unwritten rules or don't play at all. But I don't really mind if anyone wants to take a principled stand against this, as long as you come away with two points
1) No one got penalised (yet)
2) MC is only talking about it to spread FUD

netmeg




msg:4489173
 4:51 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

But why should there be "consequences", if they have the right?


Umm, because there are consequences to *all* actions?

I have a right to fill up my website full of empty pages, thin content, spun content, and lorum ipsum if I want to. None of that stuff is against the law (as long as I don't break copyright) but if I do these things, there will be consequences.

[edited by: netmeg at 4:53 pm (utc) on Aug 28, 2012]

martinibuster




msg:4489175
 4:52 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

...because he wants to supress the paid link market.


Or... Matt was just being nice to the guy by taking time to answer his question, then (as stated in the blog post) publishing the email so as to benefit anyone else.

The part that's been overlooked in this discussion is that it took a spam report to identify the infraction. It wasn't the algo. It seems like when the algo is unleashed to hunt down paid links, the scope is restricted in some way. That seems to indicate that Google's ability to algorithmically spot paid links is limited.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4489199
 6:08 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

The "might makes right" theory works until you become the dominant player in a market and abuse that position. Taking the theory and applying it to any other "innovation" shows us that there are indeed consequences to playing that card too heavily. If AT&T were allowed to continue to protect its "innovations" we'd still be using using rotary dial phones.

Most of what I hear in defense of google is "they own the market, play by their rules". That very thing; owning the market, will become problematic for them. I still think Matt Cutts stepped in it when he dictated to a newspaper on how to conduct their business.

Google clearly by its own admission no longer catalogs the web and makes it available to users but is entrenched in transforming the web to their own liking/benefit. I'm surprised that legitimate web marketers and information providers would so easily fall in line with their goals.

netmeg




msg:4489201
 6:19 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Then maybe you should take another look. I have tons of issues with Google on a wide variety of topics. But this one is a non issue.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4489204
 6:30 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

In order to understand google engineering it might be wise to listen to their bosses on a quarterly earnings conference call. It's clear to me that most google SEO "experts" have never done that. They think the engineers actually exist in a special vacuum located in the plex.

In tech circles, particularly in the SEO centric realm, fantasies and magical thinking/writing abound.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4489206
 6:37 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

If all links suddenly became nofollow, which isn't a horrible idea if you worry Google will make a mistake and slap your site with a penalty, pagerank would cease to have any relevance UNLESS Google selectively ignored nofollow.

I'm thinking they are being selective about it right now and can offer affiliate links, and their effects, as food for thought. Recently shopping sites with an affiliate program suddenly had less trouble outranking their own affiliates for the same items.

If Google is being selective about nofollow, and nofollow protects you from harm, why isn't every single outgoing link you have protected with it? What is the incentive or benefit of not using it?

londrum




msg:4489212
 7:08 pm on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

google must make a distinction between different kinds of links though, surely.

imagine if i paid for a 728x60 "buy my widget" banner on a site, which linked directly to my site.
what is the difference between that, and a text link which says "buy my widget"?

one is clearly an advert, and the other might not be recognised as one. but the end result is exactly the same -- a link pointing to my site.

would google really punish the first one? they'd have to punish 99% of the web.

abhishekmishra




msg:4489338
 4:25 am on Aug 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

at the same post matt said
The spam report passed on an email from a link seller offering to sell links on multiple pages on [website] based on their PageRank. Some pages mentioned in that email continue to have unusual links to this day. For example [example url] has a section labeled “PARTNER LINKS” which links to [linkbuyer].

That's means if any body putting B Or C website link on A in footer or sidebar & only mark as partner Or Learning Or Sponsored Links as available on many website you all seen too and there's no matter of noFollow Or doFollow links.
So my question is
*why not those website getting penalize whose sell links; Or
*Just only putting link box name as partner Or Learning Or Like is not penalty.?
*All external links no follow to prevent from Google plenty?
thoughts...!

martinibuster




msg:4489348
 5:53 am on Aug 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

So my question is...


See my post above. The one that has this in it:

The part that's been overlooked in this discussion is that it took a spam report to identify the infraction. It wasn't the algo.

trakkerguy




msg:4489350
 6:02 am on Aug 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

MC might very well be mentioning this to suppress the paid link market as suggested, and it might have no effect on rankings. But he does mention TRUST twice. In the post and in the comments:

"and it’s the reason that [website]‘s PageRank as well as our trust in the website has declined"

"Praveen, the drop in Toolbar PageRank is an indicator of the decrease in our trust of the site."

I've thought trust is more important than, and kinda seperate from PR. A bit surprised to see him say that, and wondering how accurate that is.

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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