Matt Cutts Clarifies Recent PageRank Drops & Link Buying

Dec 3, 2007 • 8:55 am | comments (3) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Matt Cutts recently spoke with Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz and made a few interesting statements that elicited some interesting forum response.

First, WebmasterWorld members were particularly interested in this statement:

we did do a full PageRank update several weeks ago - there's less PageRank flowing around in some areas (e.g. search and SEO). Vanessa Fox's site dropped by one as well, and for her as well, it's just a case where less PageRank is flowing in some niches of the net. PageRank doesn't always monotonically increase.

The forum member asks if Google is being selective in key vertical markets.

Well, this is news. At first, we were all concerned about the attack on paid links since Google is clearly declaring war on paid links. The suspicion that more popular niches get negatively affected is a whole new ballgame.

So this could be related to a "balance of popularity" as one member puts it.

If some areas gain in overall link share, or entirely new segments are introduced (with some hype) they will be calculated into or even become (or come closer to be considered ) the new scale, the new meaning of PR 1, 5, 10.

Which means all the people who were saying that PageRank 4 is the new PageRank 5 were right.

Very interesting.

DigitalPoint Forums members (particularly Michael Vandemar) find another statement made by Matt of concern:

To say "page A shouldn't rank at this position because it has paid links" commits the logical fallacy that it's the paid links that cause page A to rank, as opposed to the other links to page A.

In other words, just because a site is buying links does not mean that it shouldn't rank well.

The discussion goes on to suggest that those who sell links are the only ones who will really be penalized from this, but not those who buy links. As another member puts it, Google is so dependent on backlinks that this is a "fear" tactic to prevent this.

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld and DigitalPoint Forums.

Previous story: Google Declares War on Paid Links: But Why Now?


Sam Daams

12/04/2007 07:40 am

Both comments are really interesting. The first seems logical. The second makes very little sense. So, here's someone like site x that has gone out and bought links for keyword y for 5 years giving them the top ranking position. Based on that higher rank, other bloggers/writers/researchers have started listing them as an authority and linked to said site. As all the paid links start being discounted, who is still on top? That's right, the one that got in first and bought their way to the top. Everyone knows this is one of the main benefits of being well ranked to start with; it feeds more links. Kind of like a good day at Digg/SU etc. So bang, there goes one of two main reasons given for discounting paid links; equality! How can they NOT get this with all their brain power? Weird...

Jaan Kanellis

12/04/2007 01:11 pm

So if your an old link buyer then your website is probably still doing fine. New link buyers are getting whacked right?


12/04/2007 02:52 pm

Yup, if you just bought your way to the top last week you'll be getting hammered. People who bought their way to the top several years ago will quite possibly have accumulated a number of naturally ocurring links and so won't be affected so much. But, from Google's POV, it's a start towards preserving their business model, where the idea is that organic results are pure. We know better, but the public don't. BB

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