Did You Lose Your PageRank Because You Are Selling Paid Links?

Last modified on 21st November, 2007

For the past few weeks, news about blogs losing their PageRank has been widely discussed around the blogosphere. Besides this blog, several of my other blogs weren’t spared either.

This had affected almost everyone regardless of the quality of their content which includes big names such as JohnChow.com, AndyBeard.eu, Yaro Starak’s of Entrepreneuers-Journey.com.

I think it’s important to be aware that there are actually two different types of PageRank. One is the actual one that Google uses internally to rank a page and the other one visible on the Google toolbar. The reduction in the visible PageRank may affect a site’s text links price but based on Google’s internal PageRank value, the site should continue to rank just as it always been. Then again, an over zealous link selling promotion would definitely affect the rankings eventually.

While I tend to believe the visible PageRank carries little weight when it comes to deciding where you rank in the search engine, it’s still used by many people to gauge a site credibility. As I wrote earlier, this incident was probably nothing more than a normal PR update exercise where some sites would enjoy an increase while others experience a drop until I came across a post by Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land.

Danny points out that it’s now official that selling paid links can hurt your PageRank or rankings on Google based on a feedback he got from Google.

While I am aware the sites selling paid links might lose their ability to pass along link love, this is perhaps an indication that Google started taking a concrete action penalizing link selling sites. This news seems to be spreading like wildfire around the blogosphere at the moment.

Danny uses The Stanford Daily, a student newspaper of Stanford University where it continued to sell paid links despite widespread attention to its actions and without any penalty being imposed by Google.

The Stanford Daily is NOT banned from Google. The site’s homepage still has a PR9 score. Nothing indicates that the Stanford Daily’s links aren’t passing ranking juice, not in the ways that Google could control, if it wanted. Maybe they aren’t, but how would most people know? How would other publishers thinking of doing the same know? Certainly not from reading the paper’s rate card (PDF), where there’s nothing said about text links relating to search engines. The only thing said is the price: $350 per month.

Then Danny adds, last week he noticed the Stanford Daily PageRank had been reduced from PR9 to PR7

Last week, I noticed the Stanford Daily had dropped from when I wrote the above in April to PR7 today. That’s a huge drop that has no apparent reason to happen. Some others were also reporting PageRank drops. So I pinged Google, and they confirmed that PageRank scores are being lowered for some sites that sell links.

In addition, Google said that some sites that are selling links may indeed end up being dropped from its search engine or have penalties attached to prevent them from ranking well.

So guys, it’s official – from a seller point of view – making money from text link ads is no longer as exciting as before because you will be penalized regardless of your intention. This will definitely change the way how site owners monetize their sites. If selling paid links is one of your main sources of income, you would have to look elsewhere.

I’m incline to believe that this move by Google will improve the quality of their search results in the long run as it weeds out those who buy links to boost their ranking regardless of the quality of the content. But at the moment, it’s easier to put the blame on Google for being senseless and unfair to the rest of us. Talking about fair treatment, if you think you don’t deserve a PR reduction (nobody does right? ), you might want to write to Google via Webmaster Central and request a review. I am going to do that next.

Oddly enough, there are several blogs that are unaffected by this move. Those sites continue to sell text links but have received no penalty. Let me give one example. Now I’ve nothing against AdesBlog.com, in fact I think it’s one of those well written blogs with high quality content that I like to read. However if Google judgement is based solely on selling paid links, there’s no way AdesBlog.com could escape unnoticed.

Anyway, do you plan to keep selling text links on your website? Are you concern about your PageRank? If so why?

Update: Adesblog.com’s PageRank was recently reduced.


An engineer by training, Victor has been working full-time online as an Internet marketer, a programmer and an app developer since 2001. He has been blogging at Sabahan.com since 2006 sharing his experience and teaching people how to make money online. Click here to join his private Facebook Group for bloggers.

  • […] said, I am not suddenly retracting my previous stand that selling (or buying) text link ads is not good for your blog especially if the main motivation is to game the search engine […]

  • titan says:

    I don’t know why. But my site PR not decreasing. BUt increasing from 0 to PR 2! Hoho. I don’t know. But when i check it back. Yes. Its PR 2..

  • Ades says:

    Hi Gaman, yes I will be selling paid links still, because I think Google should not dictate what bloggers can and cannot do. As I mentioned in my blog earlier, instead they should try to improve their algorithm rather than penalizing people for selling links.

    Sure I am worried about loosing my PR7, but then again PR is not the only criteria for charging high prices for the ads.

    Now that Google is on the penalizing rampage, I think they will catch up with me too… let’s see.

    • Gaman says:

      I hope text link ads and the like will offer the ability to include the no follow tag to avoid penalization.

      While PR is not the only factors, it’s the most important one when it comes to determining how much site owners could charge.

      Anyway I wish you good luck.

  • […] on the conversations going on, some referencing to my blog as an example to prove the point, it appears that Google could be […]

  • […] on the conversations going on, some referencing to my blog as an example to prove the point, it appears that Google could be […]

  • […] on the conversations going on, some referencing to my blog as an example to prove the point, it appears that Google could be […]

  • wandira says:

    Oh, that’s weird. Gaman, don’t think you get manual penalty or something ? You better contact Matt soon.

  • david says:

    I guess you have to play by the game. Rules always changes and nothing is permanent.

  • […] Gaman, who asks the community if they have been affected? […]

  • Wahlau.NET says:

    it seems like only text link ads is facing such situation.

    adesblog is selling by himself, which maybe why he escaped.

    just my little review.

    i think google hates text-link-ads.com

  • ketyung says:

    But for those selling text link to others, it does matter to have a high PR :)… http://www.coolest-gadgets.com also dropped from PR 6 to 5… techcrunch still remains PR8 .. I think boingboing.net was supposed to be PR 8 now dropped to PR 7….I guess linking to lower PR sites might also cause your PR drop? Boingboing once ever claimed they stopped taking tips from those simply submit to get some PR gains.

  • People say that right now page rank is not as important as it used to be, you can still get a lot of traffic even if you have a lower page rank.

    I have a PR0 website that gets around 20 visitors from google, and a PR4 that receives nothing!

  • […] before anyone does. But i am not sure if this is the reason the big G is now actively combating link selling […]

  • ketyung says:

    Even big-time blogs like engadget and gizmodo seem to have their PR dropped from 8 to 7 ?????????

  • ketyung says:

    Anyway, lastly, it seems like Google likes you to make money in long term manner instead of selling aggressively or for short term only 🙂

  • ketyung says:

    Btw I had a drop b4 from 4 to 3 but I got my traffic increased 10 times and more LOL… pagerank doesn’t do anything … I carry banner ad on my site that pays by impressions, so text link selling isn’t my cup of tea 🙂

  • […] Get some ideas on why you have been demoted by Google from sabahan.com’s post entitled Did You Lose Your PageRank Because You Are Selling Paid Links? […]

  • Kay Kastum says:

    Finally it’s official. Mine dropped from 2 to 3. I need pagerank since it transpires to higher paid post assignments…… thanks Google! 🙁

  • Danny Foo says:

    I’m not overly disturbed by this anymore.

    But its weird noneheless thinking what Google is ding here. And my blog dropped a rank though I’m not selling text link ads.

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