Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Taken Down a Peg (or 2) as Google Page Rank Drops for Many

At first, I thought it was just because I hadn't posted in two weeks--that drop in Google Page rank from a comfy 5 to a lowly 4--but apparently, it's not just me... (update I'm now back up to 5--who knows what will happen tomorrow...)

Among all the questions and explanations swirling out there, I've found two that correspond to something I've been seeing (and was going to blog about before this stuff hit the fan) First, Andy Beard explains that it may not be about paid links, but more about all those little blog networks that link within and to one another:
Many of the reputable sources that have received a penalty are part of extensive blog networks, and they have one factor in common. They have massive interlinking between their network sites.


Lately, I've been working on a couple of projects where I've been doing heavy blog research--and I've been finding that many of the blogs in a variety of blog networks are increasingly blocking out the voices of independent bloggers And that they do this by linking predominantly--if not exclusively--to other blogs in their networks and never to other bloggers

Talk about anti-social media!

A big hint of the anti-socialness of some blog networks became evident to me in a post I read a few months back by a blogger who's keeping the About.com weblogs page--who gave a list of "great" women bloggers, with most of them in b5Media. To my experienced blogger's eyes, this seemed to be a rather ham-handed way of using one's platform to send eyeballs over to one's other blog network. It was, IMO, mean-spirited and rather un-social toward the vast amount of independent women bloggers who have worked darned hard to give/get their links, rank, and respect.

Yet the only-linking-to-others-within-your-own-network was noticed awhile back with the start of PayPerPost. PPP was "threatened" that they would never get linked by bloggers who weren't in their scheme (because there was something kinda ethically icky about PPP.) But they did some serious recruiting (a lot among mommybloggers, for sure.) Now, "Posties" are having Postiecon as well as (perhaps) taking up a significant presence at the BlogWorldExpo....(they've also generated their own little A-list that would send many a veteran blogger's head spinning.)

And, from my own hanging about at conferences where Posties have showed up, I've discovered that many of the Posties never would have thought of blogging if they weren't going to make some pin money for doing it...

I wonder how they feel about talking to folks who aren't their friends...

Duncan Riley's post explains a bit further about linkfarming, and how smaller media companies that may be (intentionally or unintentionally) linkfarming by only linking within one another's sites might really take a hit:
The only clear change appears to be among large scale blog networks and similar link farms, where each site in the network provides hundreds of outgoing links on each page of the blog to other blogs in the network, in some cases creating tens, even hundred of thousands of cross links. Previously such behavior has been rewarded by Google with high page rank, although it would now appear that this loop hole may now be shut


Riley also predicts a "deadpool" of blog networks--read the comments though, there are some interesting points made by folks who've monetized out the wazoo as a means of trying to generate income for their small ventures.

Well, nobody ever promised anyone who kept a blog that they could or should use it for making money....

And nobody ever said that blog networks should be able to mess with search by implementing kick-ass SEO and aggressive internal linking.

Come to think of it, that's kind of what a lot of MSM blogs are doing--and that's why many MSM blogs, such as those at Washingtonpost.com, always come up in the prime spots in search.

So, perhaps in its own weird way, Google's put the breaks on something that was, from my vantage point, beginning to look like a case of Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss with blog networks eclipsing smaller, individually run blogs.

Yet I hesitate to say that Google's any defender of the Little Guy and Free Speech. Perhaps it was merely a jiggle of the algorithm to accommodate a bunch of new stuff, and not anything to do with linkfarms or paid links...so I remain kind of dubious and mostly curious....

Update: SearchEngineLand's great linkpost of those-who-got-zapped and links to other commentary...and fellow journo-blogger Danny Sanchez notes the effect on newspaper blogs (and how he's just as important as WaPo!)

12 comments:

liza said...

I have been writing about how the Google Getapo has been harrasing me for years; including telling me to take down posts critical of their practices toward me. Of course, I didn't take them down. Of course, they've retaliated by de-ranking my site.

Now at least I am not alone in this.

Liza Sabater, Publisher
http://culturekitchen.com

Tish Grier said...

hey Liza...nope, you're not alone, and, as I'm writing this, we still don't know why it's happened...

and that's why I am always dubious when Google does something that *appears* to be an adjustment for the little guy...because it really might not be the case...

and, when I compare them to Global corporation from the movie Rollerball I'll probably get zing'd too...

mike of concrete said...

Ha! I get only a 2! I have but two pegs to give!

Tish Grier said...

lol! yeah, I guess if they knocked you down 2, you'd be out completely (wonder if the Page rank will ever go to negative numbers ;-) )

Duncan said...

I don't disagree with some of the commenter's you mention: some companies have a broader exposure to link sales and PR reliant advertising than others, however I know a lot that do who are really going to be hurt big time by this. Maybe not now but in the coming months as advertising deals come up from renewal and aren't renewed.

Tish Grier said...

Good point, Duncan--and that may be what I'm sensing as the, shall we say, unsavory aspect of what Google's done. After all, Google's *really* in the ad business, not as much in the search business.

der Reporter said...

Since yesterday Google punishes many prominent sides. Why?

kpaul.mallasch said...

I wonder when they're gonna hit Gannett, et al. Corporate news companies are notorious for incestous linking patterns...

On the good news side, traffic is up...

-kpaul

Tish Grier said...

that's good to hear KPaul! and I agree w/ you about the newspapers. The incestuous linking may be what got WaPo's blogs knocked down. *But* newspaper blogs are *still* clogging Google Blog Search for a number of topics (as I've discovered in some research I've been doing lately.) I find this highly disturbing, as all these corporations keep bitching and moaning that they're not making any money--if they're the top in regular *and* blog search, and they're still not making money, their business model must be seriously screwed up

Deborah Ng said...

Hi,

Regarding my list of favorite women bloggers - I believe only three of them were b5 blogs, but they're still favorites. Shai Coggins, Liz Strauss and Jennifer Chait all have informative, enlightening blogs which I chose to share with my readers.

Others such as Mom Gadget, Lorelle on Wordpress and eMoms at Home to name a few, aren't b5 blogs.

My post wasn't about sharing the love among b5 bloggers, it was sharing my favorites with my readers. That some of them were b5 blogs was strictly coincidental.

Tish Grier said...

That's all fine and dandy that those are your favorite blogs, Deborah--then perhaps you're also limiting your scope of who's a good blogger and who isn't. Perhaps looking outside of blogs that give product advice might be helpful to your readers....

I'd also like to point out that the non b5 blogs you mention are in some ways giving product related information or are marketing oriented blogs. Is "good blogging" then, in your opinion, only about marketing of goods/products/serivces, or advice giving?

Overall, blog networks aren't bad things (I wrote for one of the oldest)--but when members of blog networks, or those folks within the blog networks, limit their likes and dislikes (as well as links)of blogs and bloggers to a small group that functions within that network, IMO, they're acting like old media rather than new media. Further, if the *only* blogs you are reading have some sort of product marketing or service orientation to them, you're misleading people about the world of blogging. Blogs shouldn't always be about hawking products to friends (a.k.a "paid product reviews") or giving someone info about a service. Blogs are about lots of things--and highlighting some of the different kinds of blogs might be more helpful to your readers.

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