Google's update to PageRank sparks controversy

Share this content:

Every so often, search engine marketers are reminded that they are at the mercy of much larger powers within the online ecosystem. The recent update to Google's PageRank has proven to be one of those moments.

PageRank, a propriety aspect of Google's algorithm, is defined as a system for ranking Web pages that “relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the Web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value.” The firm's Web site specifies that “votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”

As a result, a gray market for links from sites with strong PageRank has emerged, much to Google's chagrin. Those who continuously eye such details, including the search consultants of SEOmoz, have noticed that even the most reputable of all sites have experienced a drop in home page PageRank. On October 24, the firm assessed 32,856 domains to reveal that none had gained PageRank and 1,264 experienced a drop in PageRank. Furthermore, the five biggest losers had implemented paid links. The firm replicated the assessment on October 29, to find that 5,499 pages gained and 9,527 pages experienced a drop.

For Roman Godzich, SVP of Smooth Fitness, the PageRank update was a good thing.

“Google was getting too polluted,” he said. “I had noticed that a competitor had achieved the first organic position for no obvious reason other than the fact that they had 60,000 inbound links from irrelevant sites.”

As for the site he manages, it has only experienced a drop in PageRank, and not a drop in traffic.

On the other side of the argument sits Keith Levenson, whose stable of sites includes He sees the Google update as unfair, making an analogy with Google's advertising products being, in fact, paid links.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue, there is one point of agreement: There are more changes to come.

While Matt Cutts, Google's unofficial SEO blogger, has not published any comments, he did e-mail this statement in late October to online blog Search Engine Journal, “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.”

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Brightcove is the world's leading video platform. The most innovative and respected brands confidently rely on Brightcove to solve their most demanding communication challenges because of the unmatched performance and flexibility of our platform, our global scale and reliability, and our award-winning service. With thousands of customers and an industry-leading suite of cloud video products, Brightcove enables customers to drive compelling business results.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above