Google's "slap" of PR selling sites may have unintended consequences
I wrote a bit about the Google Page Rank Slap previously. Quick recap: Google decided that it doesn't like people selling text links for the purpose of PR (Page Rank) building. They "slapped" all the sites that were doing this and pushed their PR way down.
I was affected by this. I wasn't selling links for the purpose of page rank specifically, but I do sell text link advertising and apparently some were using that for PR building rather than just advertising, so I got "slapped". Slapped hard - former PR6, now PR3. Owww.
Well, I changed those links to include the "nofollow" tag and immediately lost one advertiser (and may lose more - that's OK), but then I started thinking.. how does Google know those are paid text links for the purpose of PR? Well, obviously they don't, so they make some assumption based on.. based on what? Well, who knows? They aren't saying, and that made me think about all the other links I have here..
Well, since way back in the mists of history I have had both a Links directory (for companies and products useful and related to the kinds of things we talk about here) and a Consultants directory (for Unix and Linux consultants). I don't make any money from those links, but Google doesn't know that, so they could certainly consider those to be gawd-awful links sold for the purpose of inflating Page Rank!
Uh-oh. That's not good.. I had better fix THAT in a hurry, right? So I did: I rewrote the code that generates all these things so that it automatically adds a "nofollow" tag to the links. I do that in the hope of fixing the Google slap.. who knows if it will, but no harm in trying, right?
Ah, but there's more.. Google is also concerned about PPP (Pay Per Post). That's where bloggers get paid for reviewing products. In almost all cases, that's completely legit: the blogger gets paid whether they love the product or hate it, but Google fears influence so does not like this.. now I haven't done any PPP reviews, but now and then I get free products to review, and I suppose Google could think THAT is sleazy.. so what to do? Well, obviously more code: why don't I just rewrite EVERY link to include "nofollow"?
Indeed. I have done that. Every outgoing link here should now get rewritten to add "nofollow" if it wasn't already there. Every link.. unless I missed some little bit of code somewhere, but if I did, it can't be much and I'll find it sooner or later. Google's spiders will be awash in "nofollow"'s when they visit here.
But here's the question: because I'm taking no chances and doing it all automagically, true organic links are being rewritten the same way: with "nofollow" ("organic" is Google's term for naturally occurring, "legitimate" links).. I'm protecting my butt by not sharing any "link love" with anyone. What does this do for Google's PR algorithm?
It destroys it. If every web site in the world did this (automatically rewrote our links to include "nofollow"), how would Google calculate PR? They couldn't, obviously - at least not while honoring "nofollow" tags. If everyone (or a lot of everyones) actually did this, it would be a "slap back" - and it would sting terribly.
Now, I don't expect that many folks would do such a thing. Many small sites wouldn't know how anyway. But it almost seems certain that Google's slap will affect those sites: they probably will at least start adding "nofollow" tags where they might not have before - just to be safe - and that is NOT good for Google. Or any of us, frankly.
So what's the answer? I don't have one. I run a legitimate, value packed site and got "slapped" because I was careless. I'm not going to be careless anymore, and although my solution may be radical overkill, that's what I'm doing.. knowing full well that it Stinketh Highly.
By the way, if this Google Slap stuff upset you too, this post is probably something you should link to - with a "nofollow", of course..
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2009-11-07 Anthony Lawrence
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. (Arthur Conan Doyle)