Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Message Too Old, No Replies

14-15 May 2013 Update: Who Got Hit for "Paid to Pass PageRank"?



11:48 am on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

2 of my sites got hit. one we dont sell any links but accept guest posts from reputed writers.

Mod's note: Changing date in thread title at poster's request from "March 15 update" to "May 14/15 Update"....

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 7:13 pm (utc) on May 22, 2013]


11:12 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have made every link on my sites nofollow. Will report back on the results..

We are talking a revenue drop of 70% on my sites, very painful. A couple sharasale links missing a nofollow surely can't be responsible for all of that?

It must be an algo and not a manual review because I am seeing a significant drop over every forum I have.


1:14 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have made every link on my sites nofollow. Will report back on the results..

I understand your desperation to get traffic back, but I simply don't see how this would work to your benefit. If anything, nofollowing all your links would be a red flag.

I am yet to hear of a success story after people nofollow all their links.

When G first introduced no-follow, there were some webmasters who decided to trick their peers by doing link exchanges, but used no-follow to link back. It worked for a while, but all those websites (or at least the ones I kept an eye on) have gone away. Not sure if because of penalties or because G caught up with this trick. I am willing to believe the latter.

I also believe that even Google probably admits (internally) the no-follow was a bad idea. I still truly believe that at this time no-follow is only used to make webmasters self-identify "questionable" (as per G's opinion) linking tactics.


10:14 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As I posted above, while there was a change of some kind on March 15, we have NO evidence it had anything to do with "paid to pass Page Rank".

I can confirm, a number of sites have been given page rank of Zero in the last week.
It can be confidently assumed that they were penalised for the suspicion of selling links to pass page rank.


4:04 pm on May 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've confirmed via one of my personal sites, and with a few friends who manage a few hundred sites across different niches, that the PR penalty is wide reaching.

The problem: Allowing guest authors to link out from within the body of their posts liberally.

I had someone else running my blog that got hit and we were allowing guest authors, and were liberal with our policies of letting them link out however they wanted.

We figured that if they took the time to research and write the content, that we should allow them to link how they want to, editorially.

Its really confusing because now we have NO idea of what Google deems to be a natural link!?!?!?!?! I mean this is getting ridiculous!

Now Google is spreading another fear monger campaign that will make all publishers afraid to link out to other sites without nofollow, or evan at all. Its too bad, after all of what Google is trying to do to empower authors, now they are shackling them again with this fear of using editorial linking to create a better user experience.


6:51 pm on May 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Algoholic, that really sucks. As a reader, I do realize that some guests posts are just garbage filler so the blogger could take a day off. But some are very well-done, adding a lot to my experience of the site and also directing me to other sites of interest. That behavior is good for users. If Google's going to punish it, they need to at least can the "build for users" mantra.


7:05 pm on May 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Mods: sorry for the mistake in the thread title, i meant the MAY 14/15 - 2013 update and not march. can you pls update the thread title to the following:

May 14/15 Update: Who Got Hit for "Paid to Pass PageRank"?
I guess google want to be more of an SEO firm than a search engine, it keeps suggesting some new techniques everyday to keep you busy.

Here is how they work:

1. Encourage to build websites
2. Encourage to Create Good Content
3. Then, send some unnatural link penalities your way when you get some backlinks to your site from people (it happened with one of my site) who naturally link to your posts.

4. try out some "Get started with Adwords Coupons" Or Leave them guessing and cleaning the so called unnatural links for the rest of their lives

5. Goto #1


Dear Google, instead of sending us some unnatural links notices, why dont you just "nofollow" them yourself and do better things by saving the time of people. Would you care to answer this: Which came first: nofollow or dofollow?

[edited by: kumar89 at 7:55 pm (utc) on May 22, 2013]


7:07 pm on May 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

We figured that if they took the time to research and write the content, that we should allow them to link how they want to, editorially.

How liberal is liberally? I mean, one link, maybe two, in a longish post I could see. If there's ten or twenty, well...

Robert Charlton

7:43 pm on May 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

...if they took the time to research and write the content, that we should allow them to link how they want to, editorially.

The problem, as I remember Matt Cutts addressed it a while back, was that many of the guest blog articles he saw were being misused... they were cookie-cutter content. This suggests that, in Algoholic's case, possibly there wasn't that much "time to research", at least not individually.

Some questions I'd ask....

- is any guest blog now with dofollow links likely to be hit, or just the cookie cutter variety that's being hacked out?

I'm guessing that the quality and uniqueness of the article might have a lot to do with it, but other factors will be involved.

With regard to how Google might regard the links, further questions to ask...

Is the onus on...

a) the operator of the blog?
b) on the merits of the individual article?
c) the target site's history and backlink profile?

How much do the blog's history and reputation and the author's history and reputation enter into it?


8:03 pm on May 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi netmeg! :-) The posts were mostly around 500+ words, some longer, and had no more than 2-3 links in total.

Robert Charlton, the content was unique. It was not Pulitzer stuff but it was accurate and decent enough content. I believe that the use of some branded and keyword focused anchor text was the issue. That and the fact that we got lazy with adding our own content over the past 6 months, so most posts were guest posts that people would just email and pitch to us. We didn't accept everyone, we were selective.

But still, we did not limit what they could use for the anchor text. It was things like "CompanyX web development" or "www.domain.com" or "First Name Last Name" etc.

But if you can't allow branded links or non-branded links, what the heck is allowable?!

This is my main gripe. I can kind of see why Google hit me on that site. But now I don't know what's within their guidelines and what is not?

There are no sidebar or footer link ads, or link ads anywhere. Just contextual, editorial, links. Granted, I could have been tighter with my restrictions on anchor text, or even made it a rule to only link in the author bio. But still.


8:06 pm on May 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Also, as paulfitz has said, we nofollowed all the links, and submitted for reinclusion, providing all the documented data on what we did to fix things. And we will report back on recovery here as well. I'm confident we'll recover.

But I did not lose rankings or traffic, yet, at least. Only PageRank. I'd suspect that if we were going to lose rankings it would have happened already.

And this should be the case with all of the sites getting hit by this. Which makes paulfitz's comments odd in that he lost 70% revenue because of a PR drop. Unless of course he was selling links, or selling guest posts! ;-)


11:52 pm on May 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@paulfitz I'm in the same boat. Decrease every day since May 14, I don't sell links, don't even offer guest posts, the only outside links are to major/well-known websites and are few and far between. Only ads are AdSense.


3:40 pm on May 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Manual spam action revoked!

I got this today, wow that was fast! I submitted for reinclusion just 6 days ago. However, page rank is not yet back. And I don't feel that I lost rankings over this, I had what could be considered as normal ranking fluctuations, but not a penalty. No major noticeable drops in rankings the day of the penalty or thereafter.

So it IS confirmed, the problem was the allowance of liberal in-post linking of content! Of course no clarification from Google as to what is allowed and what is not! Which I guess is why the most that they can do is ding your PageRank and basically devalue any links pointing out from your site.

Oh well, if you want to get out of this "Unnatural Links ON your site" penalty, just nofollow all of your in-content links!

This 42 message thread spans 2 pages: 42

Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month