Google Changing the PageRank Algorithm?

by Daniel in — Updated Reading Time: 2 minutes

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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.

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378 thoughts on “Google Changing the PageRank Algorithm?”

  1. I don’t worry about Google. Google is not the law and its policies and vagaries are virtually ignored by the media and by every established corporation and every big advertising agency in the world. Except among bloggers and SEO parasites, Google’s webmaster policies are never news.

    The online world of Google is an unhealthy environment. I’d rather be hiking.

  2. Its interesting topic about the google PR slap. I have noticed PR increase in many of the sites I own while reading others have PR drop.

  3. People, Randy, then I have _some_ ‘news’ for you,

    Somehow, and I really don’t know why, my site dropped from a pr4 to pr0.

    No, I don’t sell links or whatever. I am sometimes busy on blogcatalog and technorati and mybloglog, etc.etc. to link up with people who are in my specific line of work (photography). I also have a lot of ‘fans’ who are linking to me, and yes, most of them get a link back from me. I think in the last week I added about 10 new links on my site, where it was quiet a few weeks before that because I was on a holiday for quite some time (Indonesia, see my blog for photos). My technorati rank rose from 18 to 34 in the last couple of days, probably because of all the new links pointing to my articles. Seems people like my work.

    But somehow the people from Google don’t like my photography. I recently applied for adsense on my page. didn’t have anything at the time. I got a nasty mail back that my blog was’nt worth their while and was rejected from adsense (and no, I don’t do porn stuff, just landscapes, culture, and people :P)

    Immediately after that mail my pagerank dropped from pr4 to pr0. I am not sure whether it had to do with my application for adsense and their rejection, but I think it is rather suspicious, even if they were ‘updating’…

    penalty ? for what ? because I have beautiful photography on my site (which is my own work, so it isn’t any copyright violation 😛 [mental note: write lawyer to sue myself], or because I have added too many links in a week’s time ? (and others to me for that fact…)

    Well, so sorry people from Google, that I am an enthousiastic blogger.

    I use google regularly (and I think almost everybody does) to look up things on their search engine. However, now that they are clearly so biased in their attitude towards bloggers or enthousiasts, I am now searching for competing alternatives. There are not many, unfortunately.

    Rick Wezenaar

    ps. Next to my photography I am also an experienced UNIX Consultant. I recently got an invitation to work with google, because my skillset matched with one of their positions. I am not sorry I didn’t accept the offer…

  4. I just finished a brand new site and it now has a pr4 rating overnight.

  5. Does G re-scaling the keywords also Im busted all of my keywords dropped!

  6. Hey,
    Good article. I hope you don’t mind, but I borrowed your list of affected sites for my explanation of the pagerank changes. I did give a backlink though, but god knows, that might be dangerous nowadays 😉
    PS: If you feel like taking a look, the article is over at

  7. This has been the highest traffic month for my site. I checked my Google PageRank and it went from “5” to “1”!!! I still have sections of my site with PR’s of 2, 3, and 4. One of my client sites went from “0” to “5”.

    I am really confused. In the end I just hope this does not affect my SERPs…

  8. There was so much talk about this I wasn’t going to post anything on my blog about it, until I found out mine went from a PR0 to a PR2.

    Up two is not bad considering so many lost PR’s, but then again, I couldn’t have gone below a PR0 anyway.

  9. My two year old blog Table for Five went from PR4 to PR3. But, my six month old blog MomReviews went UP from PR0 to PR2, and my five month old blog MomCooks also went up from PR0 to PR2. I always thought that the age of the blog was one of the determining factors.

    The only explanation I can think of is that I sell Text Link Ads and LinkWorth ads on Table for Five. MomReviews has one multi-rotating ad running, and one affilliate ad. MomCooks has BlogHer Ads, Auction Ads, and Adsense. But, I’ve only written 42 posts on it! And yet it’s only one rank step away from a two year old blog with probably close to a thousand posts? It makes no sense.

  10. = pr 7

  11. hmmm realy youtube pr 3 :S

  12. = PR3? What’s going on out there?

  13. Holy s… One of My website suddenly drop from 5 to 2, have only Google ad sense ads, no link selling or buying, no text ads…
    It has quality content, many visitors and instead of increase from PR5 –
    and got PR2?

  14. Ironically, on one of the sites offering a PR calculator tool, there is an AdSense ad for Text-Link-Ads!

  15. PR > 3

  16. This all suggest that Google don’t want to remove page rank from toolbar as G fear that most of webmasters will then uninstall their toolbar

    But at the same time G want to convey that PR is no that important as it used to be earlier… This si to prevent link selling business…

  17. Wow, this madness has been the buzz of like every forum I visit!

  18. It looks like its a real update now, with sites actually gaining PR.

  19. Google: “You probably already know about Amazon, Engadget, Ebay, CNet, 4Chan, Wikipedia, and; so we are going to give you results that you may not have known about, but that are equally as relevant.”

  20. Tim, not yet.

  21. Is Google addressing this publicly yet?

  22. One of my old domain dropped pagerank form 5 to 3 too 🙁

  23. How is it possible that an index page has disappeared from Google result after being on the first page for 1 year?

  24. I would say that a hundred of them at least. I saw a lot of small bloggers complaining as well.

  25. Any idea on the total number of websites that lost their PR?

  26. I have stayed the same….

    But, incoming links have increased and traffic is steady…

  27. Well, they dropped mine from PR7 to PR4. I have checked with Text Link Ads and of course they say this is not going to affect their/our business.

    Has anyone noticed a change after removing their paid links?

  28. My site also dropped from PR6 to PR4, though I’ve seen only about a 5% drop in traffic over the last month.

    Interestingly, I sort of knew something like this was coming since my AdSense revenues have been down almost 50% over the last month. Fortunately it is not my sole source of income.

  29. I’ve emailed Patrick Gavin, CEO of Text-Link-Ads about this, who I did some consulting for back when they first started out. Curious to see what their public response will be.

    Seems like a humongous bonehead move on the part of Google; they’re only creating reasons for influential tech sites not to use their services anymore. This is the kind of thing I’m willing to drop everything I have with them over.

  30. Very surprised at the big change.
    Thank you for the fast info.

  31. I don’t think it was a Google PR update. To me it looks like it was hand edited penalties.

  32. emigre, I am not sure if this was a proper update or just a manual adjustment for the mentioned blogs. If it was an update than all other blogs still got see some PR change.

  33. If the update is over, I didn’t see any change in my PRs. I hope it is.

    Another big blog to be hit with a double whammy is Entrepreneurs Journey. From 6 to 5 and now it’s a 4.
    AdesBlog went from a 7 straight to 5.

  34. My blog has also suffered and it was downgraded from PR5 to PR3.

  35. My site has dropped from PR6 to PR5, but suspect this is due to my switch from Ubuntu Linux content to discussioning my mother-in-law purposefully losing my socks which handling laundry & other family related posts.


  36. I’m a search engine engineer and I’m going to give you some free advice: Ignore PageRank.

    It hasn’t been used for a long time and they change it now and again to make those who know little about how the algorithms and weightings of various web pages work have kittens now and again.

    All it is these days is a useful little tool to keep people in suspense. Just ignore it.

  37. Hey guys

    Why do yoiu get concerned about this PR issue?It is just a number. Concentrate on writing great posts on your blog.Google friendly blogs (those with high PR) will link to them.Google will end up bringing you traffic through tthem.

  38. I think Google has edited the PageRank scores of several sites in manually. I was so curious, Google didn’t update the PageRank of all sites in 3 or 4 months. It’s being 5 months, Google has late, if Google implementing new algorithm, I think that all webmasters and SEO will use more powerful and significant strategies to sneakily cheat the Google crawler. Unless, if Google is using human-edited way. I have written about this at

  39. Ouch. From a 7 to a 4?!?! Wow. I’m shocked at that big drop.

  40. Mine went down from 5 to 3.

  41. Interesting reading…I’m glad I haven’t started my blog yet. Being a slow learner sometimes pays off, I guess. I have no worries with PR…oh, yes! I do…I don’t even know where to find that magic #. I should probably check if my empty blog space’s title has been ranked. Wouldn’t that be hilarious?

    Procrastination bug, or is it the gutless bug? That is what sucks…not the PR 1, not even PR 0!

  42. No problems here, still a 7.

  43. Maybe its time for a new boss. Let the people speak.

  44. It’s funny how Matt’s buddy Mr. Wolf did not get hit even thought he has a text-link-ads ad on his front page. I think google is out of control with this. They need to stop hounding sites which people REALLY READ like this, andy wash post etc. And start worring about the 1000’s of scraper adsense pages that fill up the google blog serps, and other directories.

    Just my opinion thought. I wish a boycott of google would do any good. But prob not. They are officially the 300lb gorilla now.

  45. Sorry Daniel, I missed that little “it might be just a readjustment on the PR scale” phrase.

    It definately is interesting. I would say that we’re better just to sit tight, and wait till more is revealed, however, you’ve just landed yourself a serious piece of ‘linkbait’ here by writing about it 😉

  46. Armen, I raised that hypothesis on the post in fact.

    It could be, but it should not take that much time for most of the sites to start showing a PR change.

    As the time passes I am more skeptical about that option.

  47. How about this Daniel…with the boom in blogs, and all the linking increase, maybe Google are making the bar to reach certain levels of PageRank, higher? Maybe it’s just a matter of time before all PR’s go down, and that will then level out the competition.
    That might help with understanding why the actual SERP’s haven’t really changed.


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