So what we’ve been experiencing for some months now has reached its apogee. Google PageRank values right across the blogosphere are tumbling like nine-pins in a storm. Some sites have fallen from highs of 6 or 7 to new lows of 2.
At first, I thought this might be a general rebalancing of the system, getting everyone used to lower rankings and allowing more scope for megacities at the top end. But it seems it goes beyond that.
Darren Rowse at Problogger has seen a drop in his seminal site from 6 to 4. The belief of many commenters is that Google is attempting to crush the trade in text link ads.
However, since Google’s own Adsense is mostly a form of text links, albeit (presumably) with a no-follow hard-coded in, this does seem to be a restraint of trade for commercial websites competing with Google’s overarching system.
PageRank is awarded on the basis of backlinks, rather than raw traffic data. Nevertheless, traffic and backlinks often go hand in hand. A popular site will have both to some extent.
The Google Dance has changed in recent months. We now get a monthly update instead of the variable quarterly adjustment that reigned previously. What, though, persuaded Googleplex chiefs allegedly to attack a legitimate commercial operation that just happens to have an impact on the Adsense/Adwords system?
Text links usually have anchor text advertising a commercial service of some kind. Why should that be any different from Adsense text blocks? Except in obvious cases, how can the algorithm distinguish between links posted for PR enhancement and those genuinely seeking extra business by an online form of classified advertising?
Descriptions and meta descriptions should always have some of the keywords that are necessary most of the time in order to reach a certain website. It seems that Google is out there playing the Internet police with such rules like the density of the keywords. If some word is repeated too many times, Google will put it on their so-called blacklist, making some of the websites almost impossible to find. Can it be that Google wants to make some kind of a point? Do they think that they actually own the Internet? Remains to be seen in time that comes.
Brock Boser, Chief Operating Officer of New York-based Text-Link-Ads.com — an agency selling ads across the internet — tells me they won’t be reducing their prices in response to the current PR meltdown.
Maybe this will do the trick. Or perhaps the current furore across the blogosphere will persuade Google they are not behaving well and should aim to be less imperialist in their business methods.
Has Google become the new Microsoft?
Update : Duncan Riley over at TechCrunch is comparing blog networks that interlink with link farms and seems to approve the “crackdown”. Come on, Duncan, you’ve owned a blog network and were a founder member of another. Pots and kettles, surely?