Feeds

Websites steamed after their Google PageRanks fall

Search-zilla takes a swat at link farms

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

The net is abuzz with speculation that Google is cracking down on link farms designed to artificially puff up the placement of websites after bloggers disclosed recent PageRank drops for more than a dozen sites.

They include tuaw.com, which watched its PageRank fall from 6 to 4, and Engadget.com, SFGate.com, Forbes.com and WashingtonPost.com, all of which saw their rankings drop from 7 to 5. Webmasters don't take kindly when the engine that by some estimates handles 60 percent of the world's web searches suddenly deems their sites' content less relevant.

Google has yet to explain what is behind the changes. (The company's PR handlers didn't respond to our email seeking comment for this story.) So bloggers have been trying to fill the vacuum by advancing their own theories. Theory No. 1 is that Google, the world's most profitable seller of paid links, is punishing sites that try to horn in on the action (and Forbes.com, ironically enough, recently published a decent primer on page ranking payola.)

"Google's bean counter, naturally, would prefer that you pay Google for sponsored links instead," was how gossip monger Valleywag saw it.

That doesn't make sense to us for a couple of reasons.

First, Google's formidable legal eagles, recognizing the antitrust pitfalls of such a practice, almost certainly would put the kibosh on it before it ever got going. Second, last we checked, SFGate, Forbes and plenty of other sites that took a hit aren't in the business of selling links. At least not publicly.

That leads us to the second, and more plausible theory: That Google is penalizing the large networks of blogs that use one property to prop up another. Under such arrangements, each site in the network posts links pointing to other blogs in the network, operating under the assumption that more links will translate into higher PageRanks.

This is the theory being advanced by blogger Andy Beard, who reminds us here that Google Guidelines frown on "schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank".

Assuming that's the case, that's probably a good thing. Google's algorithm was revolutionary because it was one of the first to gauge the usefulness of content based on how many other websites linked to it. The use of reciprocal links benefits purveyors of fluff at the expense of those who are generating authentic and useful content.

Not that we can trust that this is what's truly at work here. One of the great things about being the dominant search engine is that even though you have the power to make or break countless other businesses, you don't have to explain your policies to anyone. So far, Google's lips are sealed. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?