It is all over the blogosphere – sites known for selling text link ads or Google PageRank have been slapped with a PageRank reduction for their own sites by the almighty Google itself. Is this a worldwide PR update with a possible algorithm change or is it more along the line of a hand job? Seeing that a couple of sites we launched several months ago are still at a “0” PageRank, even though they have a good amount of links pointing to them, I’d have to say the latter. The question that remains to be answered is, “should publishers and those buying links be worried?”
Sit and wait. That would be my advice. Take the stock market for example – some people rush to sell stock when they see significant drops, however smart investors wait it out as stocks are more of a long term investment anyway. Rather than unloading a stock that is seeing a reduction in price, many investors hold on to them only to see the stocks return to previous levels as well as grow beyond that. Publishers selling text ads and those buying them should do the same in my opinion – sit and wait it out.
Now there are a few factors they should keep tabs on. Publishers for example should keep an eye that site traffic does not drop and that they maintain good organic search visibility. Advertisers buying text links should evaluate the benefits of the links they are buying, measuring how effective the links are in helping them to rank well for the keywords they are targeting and if the links are driving any real traffic from the links.
Let’s face facts – toolbar PageRank is only a small indication of what is really going on. So for publishers, rather than rushing out and slapping a “nofollow” tag on all paid links or discontinuing selling them altogether, sit and wait. For sellers, rather than canceling all text ads on sites that appear to have been hit, sit and wait. Wisdom would say to hold steady and evaluate what impact, if any, Google’s actions might have on marketing efforts. Personally, I think this bold move is simply a FUD scare tactic that Google is using to drive publishers into submission due to the fact that their own algorithm does a poor job detecting all paid links. If Google really wants to solve the problem of web sites selling links for PageRank, they would remove the PageRank indicator from the toolbar altogether. Why they haven’t done this to date is a mystery to me.
Here are some links to additional coverage of this issue which in some cases, includes some compiling of sites that have been hit with the PR reduction.