For those of you who follow Google Page Rank, this has been a pretty exciting week. After an almost 6 month wait, Google has finally updated the rank value it assigns web sites (which then contributes to how well the sites rank in the search engine results). The major change for this update has been in the way Google looks at “paid links”. For years, webmasters have used the google page rank of their site to trade, buy and sell links.
For example, if you were to start a new website, you would have a starting page rank (PR of 0). To reaise your PR you would have to get sites with a higher PR to link back to you. This would in effect put sites with high PR in a good amount of power. They could now sell links on their site, and the higher PR, the more money they could get for the links.
Google has obviously never been a fan of this. They want sites to link to you because you have quality content, not because you paid them off. In effect, you would be cheating the google algorithm and make google think you are a good site that deserves to be higher in rankings (while in reality, you just paid off some high PR sites).
After several months of speculation, Google has finally rolled out their “paid link penalization” page rank update. Although this in itself wasn’t surprising, the kind of sites that got hit is shocking. Forbes, New York Times, and many other notable web properties were hit the hardest. In fact, Forbes.com now has a measly page rank of 4, while our three new websites that were started just a month ago now rate at PR5!
On that note, although I don’t claim to be an SEO expert, I have been experimenting with some SEO for our new websites. Surprisingly, I must have figured out the correct formula because all 3 of our new sites were ranked at PR5 – something that is unheard of for a brand new website! Unfortunately, those rankings came at a cost of lowering T35.com from PR6 down to PR5. I am hoping that once the next PR update rolls around, the new sites will be considered *established* and will boost T35 to PR6-7 instead of dragging it down to 6.
With Google now officially frowning on paid links, and even link exchanges, I wonder how this will impact the web development landscape? At the same time, more and more people are becoming frustrated with the vagueness of the Google page rank. It might be a good opportunity for another company to come out with their own site ranking tool. Yahoo, MSN, and Ask.com are all good candidates.
I would love to hear some feedback from all of you guys. How was your site affected by the new page rank update? Do you plan to change the way you conduct business (link exchanges, etc..)?