Google Changing the PageRank Algorithm?

by Daniel in — 378 Comments — Updated — Reading Time: 2 minutes

Background Image

If things keep at this pace I might rename this blog to Daily Google Tips. Over the last two weeks we have been talking about Google every other day. This time it is the PageRank buzz again.

Both Problogger and Copyblogger, two of the most popular blogs on the niche, announced that their PR dropped from 6 to 4. Previously other authority blogs confirmed that they lost PR, but the suspect was towards paid links. Given that Problogger and Copyblogger are not selling links, it might be just a readjustment on the PR scale.

Some people are arguing that since the PR drop is not generalized, it must be a slap from Google due to practices that conflict with its guidelines. Andy Beard suggested that the sites that got penalized were either selling links or exchanging them inside large blog networks. This is a feasible explanation given that most of the Weblogs, Inc blogs (Engadget above all) were penalized, and they do not sell paid links either.

Here is a list that I gathered with big blogs that supposedly lost PR on this issue:

  • Statcounter (from 10 to 6)
  • Engadget (from 7 to 5)
  • AutoBlog (from 6 to 4)
  • Problogger (from 6 to 4)
  • Copyblogger (from 6 to 4)
  • AdesBlog (from 7 to 5)
  • Search Engine Journal (from 7 to 4)
  • Quick Online Tips (from 6 to 3)
  • Search Engine Roundtable (from 7 to 4)
  • Blog Herald (from 6 to 4)
  • Weblog Tools Collection (from 6 to 4)
  • JohnTP (from 6 to 4)
  • Coolest Gadgets (from 5 to 3)
  • CyberNet News (from 6 to 4)

Update: It looks like mainstream websites that were selling links were also penalized:

  • Washington Post (from 7 to 5)
  • Washington Times (from 6 to 4)
  • Charlotte Observer (from 6 to 4)
  • (from 7 to 5)
  • (from 7 to 5)
  • Sun Times (from 7 to 5)
  • New Scientist (from 7 to 5)
  • Seattle Times (from 6 to 4)

Update 2: After reading through the avalanche of posts on the subject, it appears that this is not a PageRank update but rather a distribution of penalties (either automatic or manual). The theory that the penalized blogs were either selling links or part of a network that used a cross-linking strategy seems to hold.

Share this article

378 thoughts on “Google Changing the PageRank Algorithm?”

  1. I don’t particularly care about those who lost a PR or two. Who cares since everyone lost?

    More importantly, who went up? That’s what I would like to know and how did they go up?

  2. Another notable website you might want to add to your list, Dan, is that used to be PR7 and some datacenters show its dropping to PR5.
    What’s sad is, some blogs (and I know of one personally) that are PR7 and openly sell dozens of links yet were not penalized.

  3. You guys should keep in mind that traffic will not change overnight as the PR does. PR that appears on the sidebar is just nominal, and it refers to real ranks coming from 2 months or so ago.

  4. I’ve been utterly fascinated by the whole thing! My rank went from 5 to 4, and now it’s back up to 5…go figure…..

    and traffic hasn’t changed considerably….

    One thing I noticed though has been the number of blog networks that have been liking exclusively to the others in the network as well as to blog posts within the same blog. This has definitely given some blog network blogs inflated page rank…essentially, they’re not really as important as they (literally) made themselves out to be…

    but if you think of it another way–this is all supposed to be “social media” correct? then it’s really kind of anti-social (and alot like old media) when blog networks only link to those in their network. Maybe that’s why both the networks and the msm newspaper blogs took big hits.

  5. A couple of thoughts in my mind

    .) Google is changing the scale. IE. PR 5 will soon be considered a lot more valuable than it has been.

    .) They’re doing some algo tinkering

    .) They’re decreasing the link quality of blogs overall, so those relying on that have been hit. Although down to #1 is just ridiculous.

  6. stayed at a 4. I was hoping for a 5, but after all that happened a 4 is now like the old 6.

    We have to now rethink about pagerank. It will take time, but the 3 is now a 5 and the 4 is a 6. Easy as that. No worried.

    If they change it again… we will adapt again.

  7. Many italian blogs are also affected: from 5 to 3 from 6 to 4 from 6 to 4 from 7 to 4

  8. I’m not a big blog, but I dropped from a 3 to a 1, and have jumped to a 6, depending on when I check. I’ve given up on checking my google score, and have basically said screw it with them.

  9. Mine was dropped from 6 to 4, but I really think Google should come up with a better, fool-proof strategy to eliminate the whole text ads thing.

    Maybe, pulling down the whole pagerank thing (or atleast hiding it from public should do the job), but then they could also come up with something like a tool through which webmasters can report paid links on their pages.

    This way, Google can penalize advertisers instead of penalizing poor publishers.

  10. ALL of my sites have dropped, even those that don’t sell links. My main one, though, went from a 6 to now I see today a 3. I don’t know much about SEO and so I’m at a loss. I assumed it was because of sold links but some friends are still hanging at 7 though they also do the paid link thing. I don’t get it…

  11. Wow…with all the dropping PRs, my blog still remains at PR5. The sad thing is, I don’t post there now. It has not been updated for *nearly* a month now.

  12. Yeah, went from PR5 to PR3. I wonder how this is going to affect advertisers. Come on Google, let us know what’s going on.

  13. It really should not affect most of the SERP’s but Google or atleast Matt Cutts should make an annoucment on what the hell is going on.

  14. My PR5 blog went down to a 3 overnight. My PR4 blog went to a 3 last week and is now down to a 2.

    Granted, since I do sponsored reviews I expected a little bit of a drop but nothing like this.

    If Google are doing this to protect their Adsense revenues from competitors like TLA, then I think it’s safe to say Google has repositioned from being a search engine to being more of a corporate sponsor.

    As for me, I just sold off my Google shares. No, I don’t think it’s going to hurt them, but it felt better than slamming my head against my keyboard all morning. Made a nifty little profit, too.

    I’m going shopping.

  15. I have small guess, Not sure but possibly

    Google can find when you were linked and In how much time for a particular article…If they find high amount of linking all of a sudden. They can go for manual check

    If you made a good story and true find…its not considered as positive linking. But if you did by giving money or creating useless competition that can create a problem

    I know one thing for sure that Google have both auto and manual check. They should be having some script to find sudden linking and then find exact nature with manual.

    Do correct me If I am wrong.

  16. I have now been hit with a -2 and I’m not selling links and I’m not part of a blog network. Is it possible that Google is going to hit all blogs? If so I think it’s very odd and stupid. If not, there isn’t any reason to penalize my site.

  17. Just wondering, it might be due to the quality of directory and blog links being downgraded, and therefore sites with PR based on those have been hit.

  18. I don’t think any of you would complain if you heard of Google’s woes. Google doesn’t rank for “search engine” on! How about that for being ironic?

  19. Wow… Some of those sites took a big hit. What really matters is the fact that these sites will undoubtedly lose a lot of search engine traffic. I’m just glad I’m still holding my PR5.

  20. Know More Media has about 100 interlinking blogs and our PageRanks appear not to have changed – nearly all 6’s across the board for the blogs’ home pages.

  21. Its really sad to know that all the hardwork can be taken away by the “all mighty google” .The just wanna show how powerful n controlling the can be. Mine is has a PR 0 and am still alive and kicking!Don’t lose your sleep..

  22. As a resident voice on SEO, I can’t help but weigh in on this one.

    My working theory isn’t that all of these sites have necessarily been penalized, especially considering many of them are doing nothing wrong. Rather, I believe that the sites linking to them have been largely devalued.

    Consider this: The primary audience for many of these sites are bloggers. These sites derive their popularity from others who are quite likely being penalized. Now that the algorithm has been changed and all those links have lost their juice, the popular blogging niche sites are losing PageRank as a byproduct. It’s regrettable, but largely unavoidable.

    I’ll keep everyone apprised if I come across a better explanation, but that’s the best I’ve got for now. Honestly, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher, but this is why it’s never advisable to put all your eggs into the Google basket.

  23. is a PR 4, down from a PR 5 when I wrote this post:

    PAULA NEAL MOONEY: PageRank Dropped from 5 to 4 … Thank God it didn’t drop to zero! dropped from 5 to 4 to now a 3 — but they also penalized me so I don’t rank for “Paula Mooney” nor “blogger salaries” nor other stuff anymore.

    Sucks, but I’m glad I’m focused on my other websites — which I hope get a PR soon…

    Great post again, Daniel.

  24. My HP went from 4 to 2 and I haven’t a clue why.

    I haven’t sold any links on it for over a month, I’ve never done a link exchange and have always been careful to follow the Webmaster Guidelines.

    That said, since I don’t actively run after PR, I’ll still sleep tonight but I would still like to know what happened.

    As if.

  25. Google slammed me from 5 down to 3. But now that I’m seeing all these other changes, I don’t feel so bad.

    Fortunately, my search traffic has stayed steady.

    I’m still going to clean out some paid links and try to be more “valuable” in Google’s eyes.

  26. Networking could be the issue – maybe Google have decided that because many networks interlink their sites when they are not related, they are going to penalise them (as if they were a paid-for directory).

    I’d love to hear Google actually comment on what they are doing, rather than leaving everyone to guess.

  27. Deep – I thought it could be them just lowering the overall value of PR – but how come some blogs are down and some are not?

    The text link selling theory doesn’t add up for me – as quite a few blogs that have been hit in the last 24 hours don’t sell them.

    The blog network theory could have something to it – although some of the blogs that I’ve seen hit are not in blog networks – or at least are not fully participating in link exchanges – and other blog networks seem untouched despite interlinking (like TechCrunch’s network).

    Maris – you’re experience is the same as mine PR is down but traffic is stable from Google. So ultimately for me it doesn’t matter – but it is odd and something I hope Google gives some insight on.

  28. oh! my god! this is soooo bad. Problogger deserves 10 page rank! I really think that google should stop acting evil and must concentrate on making the things better or rather improving the Pagerank in a way that it doesn’t give too much weight to the paid links…but penalizing like this is not really good.

    Although, one thing is sure that these sites now really don’t depend on the traffic from google.

    Hey guys..continue selling the links 😀

  29. My blog also dropped from 5 to 3 but I’m pretty happy that traffic remains the same. I removed all my sold links and link exchange partners. Will see if this helps to receive back PR.

  30. Well, it’s pretty much straight that google wants to lower the value of PR in the mind of people.. basically, people do anything to get high PR and then sell links so fluctuating PR on random basis might lower the value of PR and poeple might start giving more importance to other factors (site visitors etc..) before buying the links / ads.

    • I have heard that Google updates their page rank algo thrice a year and the next one is due in December 2010. So watch out for huge changes in your PR’s in December !


Leave a Comment