Weird PageRank Regrade Underway
I know a lot of people who pay scant attention to Google PageRank (Page as in Larry Page, not as in “a page”). Until now I’ve been broadly satisfied with the system despite the occasional anomaly. Considering the billions of “pages” out there (not you Larry), it’s only natural they foul up a few.
The system began around a decade ago when the aforementioned Larry applied the academic citation system to the Web (see my short piece on the process here). He revolutionized internet metrics and established eventual Google control over it. He must have been as happy as Larry.
So, although we don’t know all the parameters used in their Algorithm, we do know that backlinks (sources not total links) are the main measure of a site’s importance.
Currently, a PR regrade is going on, and it’s amazingly weird. At the last one in September, nearly all our sites more than three months old were set at 5, a respectable score to attract advertising. This time, quite a few are being downgraded to 4 for no apparent reason.
Take our most popular site, Royal Anecdotes, which attracts between 12,000 and 19,000 unique visitors a day. It has a healthy comments section, which has become more like a forum. The site is linked to by lots of other high-volume websites, yet remains at average levels for the network according to Google’s link: operator. It’s currently showing a PR of 4, down from 5, despite fresh daily postings of original material. Inexplicable.
This site, Syntagma, is showing over 1000 backlinks on the dodgy link: operator, but was pinned back to PR4 on six of Google’s datacenters and the toolbar two days ago, off from its previous 5. It’s now recovered to 5, but it should be much more, possibly a 7, certainly a 6.
The same is happening all over the network. Clearly we’re being penalized for something. Could it be the Text Link Ads at the top of the site, in index.php? Could it be something else?
Google’s top man in charge of the index would surely know. So Matt (Matt Cutts), why are you doing this to poor old Syntagma? What have we done to spook you? I know you’re not the “fat lady”, but we’d be grateful for a song.