Google PageRank Penalties For Network Blogs

It appears this morning that Google has issued pagerank penalties on network blogs. This was first brought to my attention by Darren over on his blog who saw his blog drop from a pagerank 7 to a pagerank 4. Interestingly, Problogger.com is a solid pagerank 6 and it redirects to problgger.net, so I don’t know entirely what to make of that.

I’ve seen Technosailor drop from a solid pagerank 6 to a pagerank 3 in most cases. Engadget was dropped from a 7 to a 5. Copyblogger also was dropped from a 7 to a 4.

A number of people have emailed, Skyped or Twittered looking for an explanation of this. I am not Google so I can only offer speculation. If I had to guess, it comes down to nofollow not being applied to “permanent links”. Last month, we saw Google penalize people selling Text links without nofollow added. This month, we are seeing networks who links among themselves penalized.

This is where I find tremendous fault with this Google action. If you remember back to six months ago, all our b5 blogs linked to all other b5 blogs. It was a tremendously lengthy and unwieldy blogroll. We recognized at that time that for practical reasons, as well as search engine purposes, we needed to keep the blogroll limited to relevant links. Thus entered our second version blogroll which now presents relevant blogs within our network based on the channels they are in. I think it’s safe to assume that people interested in Lindsay Lohan, might very well be interested in Brad Pitt or Britney Spears. Likewise, people who like First Person shooters are probably gamers interested in breaking video games news from one of the worlds leading sources. Folks wanting to know about Apple products might also be interested in iPhone discussions over at Cellphone9.

Makes sense right?

Google doesn’t like it. But here’s my beef. Google’s algorithm, as tremendous as it is, doesn’t consider common sense like this. Either that or there was some anti-spam vigilante assuming that blogroll links are spam regardless of the topic and manually culling from the index.

At b5media, we are weighing how we want to respond to this. Either we give in to Google and let them dictate what we do and have the unenviable position of losing pagerank and possibly advertising dollars, or we take the stand that quality content is quality content regardless of Google and that our content will speak for itself. We still produce millions of pages of content per month. We still have respect in the community. We still have advertisers recognizing that these sites are valuable assets to leverage to get their campaigns out on.

I’m interested in your take on this blood bath. Please weigh in.

Update: Duncan Riley weighs in at TechCrunch

The move by Google could well cause many smaller blog networks, including a number with funding, to close given their heavy reliance on text link ads and related sales that depend on strong Google page ranks for each site. Although traffic alone can and does sell ads on bigger sites, a drop from say PR7 to PR4 in one example makes the ad sell that much more difficult, particularly on blogs with little traffic. I’d suggest that the Deadpool will soon see a number of new entrants.

Deadpool is a little extreme but he makes a good point.

Update: Video comments!

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