BlogCatalog.com Gets Toolbar PageRank Penalty from Google

19 02 2009
651.gif In the past I’ve done a few posts about PageRank that may help newcomers understand the difference between “actual” PageRank and “Toolbar” PageRank, along with some of the anomalies you will see if you look at the Google Toolbar for a long time (no, not visions of Mary either, just the little green bar).

One of the things I discussed in my post “Anomalies with Google’s ‘Toolbar PageRank,’” was the fact the sometimes search results will look strange when there is a site with low “toolbar PageRank” ranking high for competitive keywords. This is sometimes due to the possibility that Google has penalized the website’s “toolbar” PR for selling links.

This appears to be what happened to Blog Catalog today. Blog Catalog used to have a PR 6 or 7 homepage, and many interior category pages that were PR5, but if you check today, you will see that they’ve been bumped down to a PR4. Is Blog Catalog really selling links? You be the judge – have a look at the top right of the “Health” section page (click here).

Will this affect BlogCatalog’s search engine rankings? Probably not.

Although it has been argued both ways, I am of the opinion that it WILL affect the “link juice” that gets passed down to all of the blogs listed in their directory.

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2 responses to “BlogCatalog.com Gets Toolbar PageRank Penalty from Google”

26 10 2010
tony berkman (14:10:41) :

After a year of not doing anything to the site and generating approximately $90k a month in google ad revenue, they penalized a key search results page on our site. Typical Google style, we were not given a reason.

To stay in business, I looked for other ways to monetize and link advertising is pervasive on the web and one way to generate revenue. I would much rather not sell links as they do not look good on a site that we have worked very hard to make beautiful and add value to blog readers and bloggers.

However, when faced with a do or die situation, you do whatever it takes. Unfortunately with Google, in my experience, controlling close to 80 to 90% of organic search, once they cut your traffic, your revenues drop accordingly — if you are dependent on them, which so many websites are.

The next thing is to figure out what you “did wrong” though they won’t say accept “to read the TOS.” This is after 1 year of not changing anything related to site optimization. Why bite the hand that feeds you? Especially when you livelihood and those of your employees has been made for 12 years from Google? I certainly never had any intention to violate google’s TOS. If I had we could have generated even far more traffic.

Yet once they penalize us, I was in a position of making sure I kept my employee’s employed and the site up the quickest way to make money is to sell link ads. Google created the industry. To this day google runs ads for buy link businesses — however if you are selling links or buying them they penalize you; in our case again. It’s almost like a cop advertising drugs and then arresting you.

I have made my living from Google for 12 years now. The last thing I ever wanted was to cross any lines. We focus intensively on user experience with the belief that what benefits users will benefit search engines.

However, with zero answers from google and a form that feels more like pleading a case when you don’t have a clue what you’ve been charged with, their “do no evil” philosophy is hollow.

In BlogCatalog’s case they caused people to lose their jobs, for me to sell all the assets, including my car (I now walk to work — which is great for my fitness and the environment) as my goal was to keep the remaining employees on board and the site running.

It’s funny, how during this period, it was Google who reached out to us to be a Premium Partner. Today, I don’t pay much attention to our Page Rank. It reminds me of the color codes used at airports. It doesn’t matter until their is a terrorist attack. Im grateful we get traffic from google. Yet, our goal is to be a brand that stands upon it’s own feet and doesn’t depend on organic results.

I feel deeply that Google’s actions are hypocritical. They “do evil” in business. They hurt people’s lives in a callous way and with reckless disregard. So, the only thing I’d like to see is Google remove number 7 from their Corporate philosophy.

My purpose and BlogCatalog’s purpose is to be the one community on the web that treats bloggers, especially indie bloggers as heroes, and supports and defends them. Our goal is to expose talented, lesser known bloggers and we do an unbelievably great job at that. It’s what we do.

For us, It’s all about adding value to bloggers and not paying attention to a page rank that goes from 0 to 10, and is simply a gross misrepresentation of a site’s value.

BlogCatalog has over 400 million inbound links. We have never paid for a link and never will. It is a site that is cited in 100s of books and is a valuable part of the blogosphere.

To run a company based on Google alone is a mistake. It’s short term thinking. So while SEO was once considered somewhat of a science, today it’s more a game of SEyoyo’s where “black hat” SEO’ers have 1,000s of sites, so that if one is “spanked” they have another 999. BlogCatalog is a brand. It is not a site that was ever created to manipulate Google’s algorithm. The fact that we sell links is simply a matter of survival as Google cut us off, without warning or reason.

They hurt former employees at BlogCatalog as well as the 400,000 + bloggers who were receiving traffic from BlogCatalog. Many of them making a living themselves. At some point we will have a member supported community where we will be able to remove the links, however at this point, we are selling them because it’s how we have kept the site online.

It’s unfortunate that Google took such a large segment of the search market so early on, or Bing, which is probably a superior product would today have a chance to compete with them. If both products were launched today, my guess is most users would gravitate to Bing. Google certainly doesn’t have the brand reputation that it had with web site owners 5 years ago. They have caused much damage to their brand. I view what happened to us as a gift, and collateral damage. I don’t believe there was ill intent on Google’s behalf. They are simply responding to threats they do not foresee from FB and Twitter.

I respect Google. They are a remarkable company. BlogCatalog has learned a tremendous amount from the past 6 months. We have survived the storm and are stronger for it.

24 11 2010
Chris H. (14:11:12) :

Sorry to hear about the trouble it’s caused your company. I agree with all the points you make too.

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