Google Confirms Received PageRank Penalty for Selling Links

Jul 11, 2008 • 6:02 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

The incredibly popular was at a PageRank of five recently, and Google specifically confirmed that NewsDay received this PageRank penalty due to "selling links that pass PageRank." But when I look at the Google Toolbar now at, it shows a PageRank of 8, not a PageRank of 5.

On June 8th, the webmaster reported the PageRank penalty in a thread at Google Groups, on June 9th in the afternoon, a Googler spotted the thread and replied:

Thanks for your post. I'm glad you're posting here in the Webmaster Help Group, because the discussions here help educate webmasters around the globe. I just checked over and compared it to the most recent version of that was indexed by

Scrolling near the bottom of what your site used to look like, I see the following "Featured Links": Mesothelioma Lawyer Lung Cancer Personal Injury Law Firm Buy Mets Tickets Buy Yankees Tickets Wicked Tickets Hamptons Travel

Please remember that participating in link schemes intended to manipulate search engine rankings, including buying or selling links that pass PageRank, is a violation of our Webmaster Guidelines, and may impact your site's standing in Google:

If you believe your site was at one point in violation of the Webmaster Guidelines, and you have since made changes to your site so that it fits within the guidelines, you can request reconsideration of your site by following the steps here:

But now, the site is back at a PageRank of 8.

In any event, I do not believe that Google typically has called out major sites for this in the past. I know this is known as a valid reason for Google to downgrade a site's PageRank (just look at ours). But it is always interesting to see the discussion around a major news site, like

Forum discussion at Google Groups.

Previous story: Another Insulting Algorithmic Search Result from Google



07/11/2008 10:25 am

So its back to PR8 now.. So they removed the featured links and submitted for reconsideration!

Lisa Barone

07/11/2008 04:15 pm

NewsDay? Like in two words pushed together for Web 2.0 purposes? Oh, Barry, you break my heart. As a New Yorker, you should know that it is Newsday. I realize the Web has completely bastardized words and killed our ability to spell, but that made me wince! It's like you're stomping on my Long Island roots. Long live Newsday! :)

CVOS man

07/13/2008 06:16 pm

Google trends shows no appreciable traffic loss, so this may have been a scare tactic. Checkout the 100 nofollows Newsday has now. They must want many pages indexed.

Fred Nieto

07/14/2008 07:47 am

But isn't it wrong to apply for "reconsideration"? I mean, for a webmaster that did not make any wrong, isn't this like admitting a fault which he doesn't have?

Brent D. Payne

07/14/2008 02:19 pm

It's important to note that the offending links were popular at the time and other sites were also hit with a similiar penalty. I started in February 2008 with Tribune and the offending links haven't been live since late 2007 or January 2008 (trying to clarify). Brent D. Payne SEO Manager Tribune Interactive

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