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Month: October 2007

Google Page Rank – Why it’s not “Just a Number” and Google Knows it!

Google Page Rank – Why it’s not “Just a Number” and Google Knows it!

As promised, I would like to address the statement that Google PR is “a meaningless number”, “it’s a void and empty score” or “it’s just a number”… Sorry guys, but it’s not as much as we would love it to be, and Google knows it’s not. So with Tom Berringer’s help, I’ll try to explain my point of view on why PR is as important as ever and how the latest PR penalties are damaging even if they don’t affect traffic directly.

Google PR is like Tom Berringer in

There’s a great saying in this badass action movie, and it comes towards the beginning of the movie when Jonathan Shale (played by Tom Berringer) is looking to establish authority over his ghetto classroom and he is guided by the words of Principal Claude Rolle (played by Ernie Hudson). He explains in order to gain instant respect with his students, at the beginning of the year they have a presentation where he basically smashes his fist through a piece of wood, hinting rather strongly at what will happen to anyone deciding to get a little too uppity in class. He then explains he uses the concept of “power perceived is power achieved”, and he’s absolutely right. Even though he didn’t physically break some punk in two, the students definitely knew that’s what would happen if they stepped out of line.

Well, Google has broken their boards a few times and have created a similar concept: “Value perceived is value achieved”.

There is no arguing that there is perceived value in achieving high page rank, and if you can increase your site’s page rank, you achieved in earning your site increased value. You can scream that page rank is meaningless all you like, but there is no question that PR is alive and well, even if it has nothing to do with your traffic any more or even your quality. In the hearts and minds of webmasters the world over, PR is just one of a few key indicators or a website’s value and is used to gauge all sorts of dollar related indicators. And examples are out in plain sight!

Along with Alexa ratings, Google PR is one of the biggest selling points for any site looking to sell ad space, services or even to sell itself. In fact, PR can even be used to gain customer trust… surely a website with a PR 5 can be trusted a lot more than some PR 2 site that sells the exact same thing right? Value perceived is value achieved.

If there’s one thing Google knows, it’s how to make money and how to influence the web, even if it’s to simply correct or improve their own internal functionality. Let’s face it, if Google has a policy change for internal controls that affects ranking or positioning, webmasters around the world jump on it like wildfire and look at how to optimize and adapt their sites to this new change. It’s only natural, there’s nothing to be ashamed of… many of us count on Google for TONS of traffic, revenue, sustainability and ultimately, e-survival. In this latest move to penalize key websites for selling links to influence their PR index, Google knows exactly what they are doing… by lowering visible PR ratings, they are reducing the perception of value in that site. You’ll have a lot harder time justifying your ad asking prices if you went from a PR7 to a PR4 despite your traffic levels staying exactly the same.

Same thing goes for those of you looking to sell your website or company. One of the first things an experienced buyer will do is check your PageRank… if your sales pitch is reporting massive inbound site traffic but your PR is in the toilet, it does nothing but raise red flags. Then if you try to explain that your PR has been penalized and you’re “really a PR 7”, you’ve just raised another flag and opened up a can of worms. Would YOU buy a site that had just been penalized for any reason by Google? That’s like buying a car that a mechanic just warned you about shooting flames out the exhaust pipe, but “it’s nothing to worry about”.

How about SEO companies? Would you take an SEO company trying to sell you an expensive consulting package seriously if their own website couldn’t muster up anything beyond a PR4? Sure, it’s just a number right? Somehow I don’t think so… again, value perceived is value achieved, and the door swings both ways.

So how does Google fix this? They can’t and they probably won’t… truth be told, PR should simply be removed in favor of a visitor related tracking system similar to the Alexa rating system tracked via the millions of people using the Google Toolbar. Visible PR is meaningless purely from a search point of view, I agree… but when it comes to perceived website value, having your Google Page Rank penalized is a crushing blow to anyone’s monetization efforts and I truly feel bad for any webmaster that was hit with this problem and innocently had no idea their linking methods would land them in trouble.

That’s my take on the PR number issue, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my rather stretched out analogy. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter so please feel free to click on the comment button below and use the form to share your feedback with me and the rest of my blog readers.


How to Customize the Default Image and Link Paths in the WordPress Editor

How to Customize the Default Image and Link Paths in the WordPress Editor

Here’s a cool little trick Jamie figured out for me… I pretty much use the exact same path for all the images I post on this blog and I got tired of always typing out the path to the image folder along with the image name in the javascript popup you get when you click on the IMG button within the editor. I noticed that the pop-up always had http:// already filled in by default and I realized that I could probably change that to the image path I typically use to save some time. Being the coding idiot I am, I had no idea how to even start looking for this setting (although I did try for about an hour and found jack…) so I hounded Jamie about it and he found it in roughly 3.2 seconds.

Here’s how you do it…

Step 1: Open up your quicktags.js file located in the following subdirectory off your WP install dir: /wp-includes/js/

Step 2: Scroll down to the very bottom of the file and you will find the two functions that control the LINK button (edInsertLink) and the IMG button (edInsertImage)

The first function is the default URL you see when you click on the LINK button to insert a hyperlink. Change http:// on the following line to whatever path you want to come up by default:

function edInsertLink(myField, i, defaultValue) {
if (!defaultValue) {
defaultValue = 'http://';

The second function controls the IMG button… change http:// on the following line to whatever path you want to come up by default when you click on the IMG button:

function edInsertImage(myField) {
var myValue = prompt(quicktagsL10n.enterImageURL, 'http://');

Step 3: Save and upload and you’re all set! Here’s a shot of it in action:

Enjoy and thanks again Jamie for this awesome little time saver!


The Dreaded Google Page Rank Saga Continues – Now With Updated Goodness

The Dreaded Google Page Rank Saga Continues – Now With Updated Goodness

I’ve been reading up on the updates and comments on this page rank update that has wreaked so much havoc, and it’s definitely a pain, but also a learning experience and hopefully some of you other webmasters can learn from what I’ve experienced. Here’s what I’ve found out since my last post and some action we’ve taken…

First off, if you don’t know what page rank is or what this post is talking about, you need to read my first entry on this problem HERE.

First, Google has confirmed what we suspected in this update. As per the post on

Google has confirmed that the recent update to its “visible PageRank” system is an effort to crackdown on sites trying to rig this closely-watched web popularity contest.

Over the weekend, Google search engine guru Matt Cutts told Search Engine Journal that the company is intent on punishing web publishers that attempt to sell their PageRank currency to other sites.

A site with a high PageRank can often boost the rank of a less-popular site simply by linking to it. As a result, popular sites will often provide such links in exchange for cash. And Google doesn’t like that.

Here’s the word from Cutts:

The partial update to visible PageRank that went out a few days ago was primarily regarding PageRank selling and the forward links of sites. So paid links that pass PageRank would affect our opinion of a site.

Going forward, I expect that Google will be looking at additional sites that appear to be buying or selling PageRank.

As Cutts says, Google has changed its visible PageRank values – the scores that pop up on the Google Toolbar when users visit a site. This is merely an approximation of a site’s “real” PageRank, which is actively used to sort search results.

Cutts’ email goes a little further than the official company line. The Google PR machine gave us a slightly-less-direct explanation.

“Google is always working to improve the ways that we generate relevant search results and update our opinions of sites’ reputations across the web,” said a company spokeswoman.

“Values in the Google Toolbar can fluctuate for a number of normal reasons, including changes in how we crawl or index the web, or changes in the link structure of the web itself. In addition, Google may update the visible PageRank indicator in the Google Toolbar to incorporate not only our view on the back links to a page or site, but also to incorporate our opinion of the forward links for a site.” ®

So in short, Google is trying to penalize people that sell links on their high PR websites to people that are looking to boost their website’s own PR, which is something Google doesn’t like. Let’s be clear though… this is TOOLBAR PR, not the site’s actual internal ranking, so traffic is completely unaffected. It’s done this way so that your site’s traffic remains unaffected, but your site’s perceived monetary value is lower… Google is trying to hit you in your wallet. PR is a common measure used to determine website value… I’ll be talking about this tomorrow in regards to the “PR is just a bogus number” statement.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t sell links on your site to monetize your website, but if you want to be listed on Google, they expect you to take certain steps to ensure that those links you are selling are for direct click-thru traffic and not link farms for PR levels. So, how do you sell links but not get penalized for selling links for PR? You have to use the “nofollow” tag.

Unfortunately guys like me were innocently selling links purely for monetization, not to manipulate Google’s PR structure, were penalized. This is why P2L was reduced to a PR 4 from a 6. Yes it’s ignorance, but there are MANY webmasters that have no idea what “nofollow” is, and if you’re one of those, click here to read the official Wiki.

OK so now that you know what “nofollow” is and what it does, let’s look at Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Quality guidelines – basic principles

– Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”
– Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
– Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

Unfortunately there is nothing in the main Webmaster Guidelines that says anything about selling links or using the nofollow tag to avoid penalties. For your average webmaster, you would have no idea about this.

Now let’s look at this huge post by Google’s Matt Cutts about the nofollow tag and how to use it:

Hey all, I’ve been meaning to stop by the webmaster help group, and the “Popular Picks” thread drew me in. Here’s the question I’ll tackle: Admin Aaron asked “What are some appropriate ways to use the nofollow tag other than to protect against blog comment spam?”

My short answer is that the nofollow attribute on links is a pretty general mechanism, and you’re welcome to use it how you like. Let me tell you what it does, then I’ll give an example or two. I answered a nofollow question for Rand Fishkin recently. You can read the full details at, but I’ll quote the important bit:

“The nofollow attribute is just a mechanism that gives webmasters the ability to modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity. Plenty of other mechanisms would also work (e.g. a link through a page that is robot.txt’ed out), but nofollow on individual links is simpler for some folks to use. There’s no stigma to using nofollow, even on your own internal links; for Google, nofollow’ed links are dropped out of our link graph; we don’t even use such links for discovery. By the way, the nofollow meta tag does that same thing, but at a page level.”

So nofollow as a link attribute causes Google to drop those links out of our link graph. If you have a nofollow link from page A to page B, we won’t crawl via page A’s link to discover page B. Note that we may still find page B via other links around the web, though.

What are some appropriate ways to use the nofollow tag? One good example is the home page of If you visit that page, you’ll see that the “Sign in” link is nofollow’ed. That’s a great use of the tag: Googlebot isn’t going to know how to sign into, so why waste that PageRank on a page that wouldn’t benefit users or convert any new visitors? Likewise, the “My itineraries” link on is nofollow’ed as well. That’s another page that wouldn’t really convert well or have any use except for signed in users, so the nofollow on Expedia’s home page means that Google won’t crawl those specific links.

Most webmasters don’t need to worry about sculpting the flow of PageRank on their site, but if you want to try advanced things with nofollow to send less PageRank to copyright pages, terms of service, privacy pages, etc., that’s your call.

I gave another example where nofollow would work well at . Someone wrote an oompa loompa dating site as a joke, but that site started to get hit with spammy comments. If you write custom software where you’re worried that people might spam the software with links to, I dunno, Ukrainian porn sites, then you can add nofollow in your software on the links that you think might be spammed. If a spammer has a choice between your software and some other software that doesn’t use nofollow, your software might not get hit as often by spammers.

If you’d like to find out more, Eric Enge and I did an interview that touched on how Google treats noindex, robots.txt, and nofollow:

Hope that helps!
Matt Cutts

Great information, but again there isn’t really anything here saying that nofollow should be used not to influence PR for those of us selling ad space to generate revenue on our websites, which more and more represents a HUGE number of webmasters.

BUT then you find some information HERE! This group post is clearly starting to touch on the direct issue at hand… you can sell text ads, but you need to tell Google that they’re ads and not natural outbound links.

And then, we find it… the official word from Google on Paid Links!

Google and most other search engines use links to determine reputation. A site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. Link-based analysis is an extremely useful way of measuring a site’s value, and has greatly improved the quality of web search. Both the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links count towards this rating.

However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.

Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

– Adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the tag
– Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

So there you have it! You need to tell Google that any outbound links that are paid for on your site by tagging them with the nofollow tag. For small sites, this is probably a non-issue, but once you start hitting 5+ Page Ranks, you shyould start looking in to this.

So mystery solved and hopefully by adding these tags to our advertiser links, we can have our penalization removed. I’ve gone ahead and requested our re-inclusion, so we’ll see what happens. This has been quite a learning experience, that’s for sure. BUT I am a little disappointed in Google on this… they didn’t have to penalize anyone, they could have addressed this via their alogrithms. Check out this article by Eric Enge, it’s pretty much spot on about how I feel about this.

The big news remains the apparent punishment in PageRank terms of sites which are selling links. What surprises me about this is not that Google did this, but three other things:

It surprises me that they missed so many sites that are obviously selling links. I am aware of many, many such sites that monetize their sites in that fashion, without NoFollowing their links. Given the set of sites affected, it really does seem like the punishment was manually selected.
However, that makes it even more curious when you consider that influencers like Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Journal were selected.

It surprises me that they punished sites that sell links, but clearly labelled them as Sponsored, or as Advertisers, or some other equivalent. Google will never win that battle. Monetizing sites is something that every site owner has the right to do. Such a small percentage of site owners even know what a NoFollow is, that a policy of punishing people on that basis does not make sense to me. Besides which, cant Google detect these types of clear labels and simply discount those links algorithmically?

It was also a surprise that there was no apparent impact on traffic. This was reported by both Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Journal. So given the broad swipe that they took at sites as mentioned in point 2 above, I suppose that this is a good thing. But simply altering tool bar page rank in a way that does not impact traffic will get them nowhere.
The link selling market will continue to thrive without PageRank. At this point in time, selling links is more about Anchor Text than PageRank. Nothing in this update has changed that.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

On the same token, Google is a FREE search engine, so if you want to play in their party, you have to conform to what they tell you… don’t like it? Don’t list with Google I suppose… I’m sure this is how they’re looking at it anyhow. Just remember that if you are a webmaster and you want to count on Google for search engine traffic, you are responsible to read the Webmaster Guidelines at least once. You might be surprised at what you find!

That’s it for now gang, time to go pick up the little one from school! I’ll keep you posted if the actions we took had any affect in lifting our current PR Penalty. Later on (Maybe tomorrow?) I will post my thoughts on the “PR is just a number concept”. While this may be true from a direct traffic standpoint, it’s completely false in the marketting sense and I’ll touch base on the various reasons why PR is still a critical number for your website.

Until next time!

PS. Special thanks to Nick and Jamie for their respective contributions for source material.

Happy Birthday Donna!

Happy Birthday Donna!

On behalf of the entire crew and community at, I would like to wish a VERY happy birthday to P2L's hardest working gal and my dear friend DONNA!!! Happy B-Day!

Now, do yourself a big favor and stay away from the site today and take a break… I recommend cake and booze and other distractions, whatever gets you away from the forums and puts a silly grin on your face. HAVE A GOOD ONE!


Did Google PR Just Take a Dive in the Shitter?! P2L a PR 4!

Did Google PR Just Take a Dive in the Shitter?! P2L a PR 4!

Wow… Google’s new update the last couple of weeks has certainly been the most retarded thing I have ever witnessed come out of this company. What did they just do?! Almost every major site I know about has just had their site’s Page Rank reduced to ashes! As of right now, has just went from a 6 to a 4! This means that P2L has a lower PR than my blog, and any of my hobby sites. Are these guys out of their minds?? Check out my PR status on their various Google DCs:

PR Update

This was generated at

Now I’ve been reading all kinds of topics and articles on this and I can honestly say that the webmaster community in general is in complete shock over this, not to mentioned completely baffled. We’ve been seeing word that sites with heavy paid links have been penalized, but that’s a load of crapola… Of the 3 main tutorial portals out there, I am the only one that lost PR and the other 2 all have link exchanges and paid text links so I’m not buying that excuse for a minute. Then we have sites with absolutely NO text links of any kind that were hammered. has been reduced to a PR 4 and these guys were a 7 or 8 at least!

Check out some of these articles for more information and comments on this utter bullsh*t:

First, you can read about what exactly PR is at (The ironic part is that these guys went from a PR 7 to a 4!).

And now articles about this worthless update: Here’s a snippet but go here to read the rest.

Boing Boing: Was 9, now 7.
Engadget: Was 7, now 5. Was 7, now 5.
New Scientist: Was 7, now 5.

There is a MASSIVE article with tons of updates and comments going at (Give the page a bit to load, it hammered) Here’s a snippet but go here to read the rest.

Slapped By Google

For a company such as Google with a stock price based extensively on anticipated growth and public sentiment, it doesn’t take a huge swing in goodwill to have a dramatic effect on valuation. Google has just slapped their biggest fans.

After the very controversial hit many sites took just 2 weeks ago for various degrees of selling PageRank or linking to clients, you might have thought Google would take a breather, but Google it seems hadn’t even started its crackdown.

A number of sites have been hit yet again, including this one, but there is also a new element that has been introduced.

Here are some unusual penalties for trusted sources of good content PR6 PR4 PR7 PR5 PR6 PR4 PR6 PR4 PR6 PR4 PR6 PR4

A few search and money related sites as examples PR7 PR4 PR7 PR4 PR6 PR4 PR6 PR3 PR6 PR4 PR5 PR3
Vlad PR4 PR2

Here’s more at (Give the page a bit to load, it hammered) Here’s a snippet but go here to read the rest.

Real or Fake PageRank Update In Progress (round 3)

Courtney stopped by to let me know about what appears to be a real PageRank update that is in progress, if there can ever be a real update again.

Many of the blogs highlighted in the update just a couple of days ago seem to have reverted to their previous position.

Now for anyone who might be thinking otherwise, there are still some obvious penalties in place for a few sites, but it is less obvious for the more vocal networks.

Some sites and networks still have a penalty, as do some sites.

Some of those penalties seem to be a carry over from the first Google slap 2 weeks ago, and some seem to be much newer.

The changes could easily be written off as changes in total linkage compared to the remainder of the blogosphere, but it seems like Google have given a penalty to those they could get away with.

Domain Starting PR First PR Update Second PR Update Today’s PR 6 6 4 4 or 6 7 7 5 5 or 7 6 6 4 6 6 6 4 6 or 7 6 6 4 4 or 6 6 6 4 4 or 6 7 6 4 4 or 5 7 7 4 4 or 6 6 5 4 4 or 5 6 6 3 3 or 5 7 7 4 4 or 6 6 6 4 4 or 6 5 4 3 3 4 or 5 6 6 4 4 or 6 7 7 5 4 5 or 6 7 7 5 5 or 7 7 7 5 5 or 7 6 6 3 3 or 5 8 8 5 4 5 or 6 3 3 2 1 or 2 3 2 1 1 2 3 or 4 7 7 5 5 or 7 5 5 3 3 or 5 7 7 5 5 7 or 8 6 6 4 5 4 or 6 6 5 3 3 or 5

The following are site updates which were not hit by a penalty previously for comparison purposes 7 7 7 5 4 4 4 6 7 7 7 7 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 3 or 5

More news and updates available from source Andy Beard – Niche Marketing

Is this off the hook or what?! So I guess the best we can too is get in the fetal position and rock back and forth mumbling how PR doesn’t affect traffic and hope it all looks better in the morning. Here’s more discussions you can check out:

There’s a ton of forum discussions going on right now on Sitepoint… just hop on over to the Google topic area of the forums.

You can also find a bunch on Digitalpoint’s Google forum area located here.

And finally, check out this post on

Special thanks to Donna for sharing all these links with me… I was actually ignoring this issue because so much has been going wrong for me lately that I just didn’t need a Google disaster, but looks like I have to deal with this shit storm now too… YAY! Best I can do is keep an eye on traffic and see what happens I guess. If you have some feedback or a comment, please click the comment button and use the form to share your thoughts.

It’s been longtime said that PR is “just a number” and has no bearing on your actual traffic, so I guess we’ll see a true test now. I noticed that we had this PR 4 going early last week, and so far, our traffic completely unaffected. Here’s a graph of our traffic for this month so far, and you can see last week was completely normal:

PR Update

So to be quite honest, I suppose your bragging rights are taken away, but as long as my trafic continues to be solid and unaffected, I couldn’t care a less what Google did with their PR. So time to make some wait-and-see pudding!

Best of luck to you other webmasters!


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