Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

I Never Bought Into Google’s Page Rank Score

I may be a minority squeak in the thunderous outcry from the search engine marketing industry towards Google and their sudden, unexplained mass drop in “PR score” applied to web sites. I never bought into the hype over PR scores. Regardless of all the reasons to jump on the scoring bandwagon as a way to determine web site value, I refused on the grounds that I wanted genuine worth, not forced.

There’s many easy ways to take advantage of Google’s methods for deciding which web sites are the most valuable. When they created algorithms based on link popularity, they devised the means to manipulate and play upon our “human-ness”, such as self esteem and personal attachment.

Nobody likes metric values placed on something that may be an extension of who they are.

Business owners will do whatever it takes to get their web properties on top of search engine results. Search engines know there’s nothing worse than that feeling of being “ugly”, “unworthy”, “unimportant”, and “not worth linking to”. Several rank solutions are offered such as paying for inclusion. This is advertising and it’s not free. An inexpensive alternative, especially for startup sites, is networking via links. When done with integrity and logic by skilled experts such as Debra Mastler and Eric Ward, reciprocal linking produces positive results.

When the linking process became automated and later evolved into paying for links based on a site’s “PR score”, Google apparently woke up. Why did it take them so long? Why is Google suddenly waging war on web site owners who “wheeled and dealed” to promote their web sites? It’s not as though paying for search engine exposure is something new. Search engines have been taking money from corporate sites for high SERP placement, behind the scenes, since search engines were first invented.

Small and medium web sites have been forced to resort to all sorts of tactics, creating the search engine marketing industry as a result. It’s hard to believe any search engine would punish SEO’s, when it’s they who bring in tons of revenue by connecting their clients to Internet search.

Not every web site owner chooses the search marketing “fast track” to rank. Some remain organic because it suits them. I’m one of them, which is why I never did link exchanges or cared about PR scores. It takes longer to be noticed when you take your time and “do good”, one on one, day by day, heart to heart, soul to soul.

Much, much longer…and I’m not saying it’s the right choice for a business. If I was just starting out now, as opposed to 1996 when I came online, I’d be making different marketing choices.

Wanting to Hold On to the Genuine

I feel that my web sites and business services are an extension of myself. I can’t be something I’m not. I’m unable to use other web sites to make me look better by paying to be on them.

Search engines have a unique way of judging and analyzing web sites. I don’t happen to believe they do this well or accurately.

Take Cre8asiteforums, for example. It was slapped by Google too. For some reason, our PR score went down. We’ve never purchased links, paid for ad space or paid for inclusion. We host ads from two places – Google and Text Link Ads. We don”t earn much money from Google or TLA, but what revenue we have earned, we turned around and gave it away to educational facilities to help fund internships or those who needed financial aid to study with.

How can an algorithm understand intent?

How can any search engine gauge and measure truth, honesty, and those moments when people interact, site to site, link to link, with good intent? Can search engines monitor comments and place value on sites this way? I wouldn’t want this. Everyone knows it’s far easier to complain on the web. Site owners know web site feedback is largely negative, rather than “Hey, great work!”. Should algorithms put more weight on user generated content in determining site or page value? How would we control that?

I’ve come to think I have this idealist view on Internet technology and “bots” that decide the worth of web site properties. I stubbornly believe they can put me into this tiny box and give me any label they wish, but, search marketing or no search marketing, I’m not going to let them change who I am.

If I’m a “PR 0″, I’m not any less of a human being worth getting to know, link to or do business with.

Sure, I’m not an “A-List blogger”. I’m not one of those top usability companies. I’m not a famous conference speaker. I have a terrible habit of volunteering my time, rather than being paid for it. My sites rank well because of years of being out there, being who I am, and not pretending to be something else. I can be shy at first. Definitely klutzy. I’m terrible at remembering names. But when I do my work?

I’m worth every penny.

A tool bar will never know this about me.


  1. October 25, 2007    

    Ok, let’s put PR and any scoring metric aside for a moment. It’s not so hard to dismiss PR, especially toolbar PR. I can do that. You can do that. We can all do that. So let’s go beyond that for a moment.

    If, (if if if), this is just a warning…a pre-penalty, if you will…from Google…

    If you don’t dump the TLA ads from your forum within the next x amount of time…

    And if Google then goes on to dump any “warned” sites from its index after x amount of time, if those sites have not complied….

    Then what? Can you ignore that part of it? Cre8’s forum could probably stand it, and I’m sure many of the hit sites could as well. But is it worth it? Should all the hit sites concede defeat and dump any TLAs, in fear of the next shot from Google, which could be a total ban?

    I’m not saying anyone should or shouldn’t. All I’m saying is that in my mind, this really doesn’t have anything to do with PR, so focusing on PR is the wrong thing to be looking at. In my mind, the PR thing is just a warning. The real punishment is yet to come…and that’s a lot scarier than green pixels.

    Am I crazy? Wrong?

  2. October 25, 2007    

    We’re on the same wavelength Donna. I just said to the moderators that I’m not ready to abandon TLA without just cause. Whatever is going with Google…I don’t have dependable answers for. TLA brings us in more revenue than Google AdSense does.

    TLA stays. But, if I were a small/med business that’s co-dependent on Google, I would likely be making different choices.

    Many many people have been warning business owners to stop depending on Google for traffic and sales. For years…

    Like you, I think Google has sent out the warning shot, in a way they would be heard.

    Focus on usability, everyone. :) :) (Couldn’t resist that one.)

  3. October 25, 2007    

    I don’t know why page rank has become such an important thing. I think sometimes page ranks and scores make people greedy…greedy to try to make their score better. IF you are focusing on what you want and what you want to do…the rest shouldn’t matter.

  4. October 25, 2007    

    Nice post and I agree. I personally uninstalled the Toolbar two years ago and make no decisions based on PR whatsoever. I have no idea if my PR is up or down because I really, honestly couldn’t care less.

  5. iamlost's Gravatar iamlost
    October 25, 2007    

    “I Never Bought Into Google’s Page Rank Score”

    But then you are not just a pretty face. ;)

    The little toolbar PR (tbPR) gauge is an advertising mechanism – it always was and it always will be. There have always been pages ranking above ‘higher’ tbPR pages just as there have always been pages ranking above pages with multiples more backlinks – including those with higher tbPR backlinks. So why the rampant addiction?

    The one consideration when someone ‘talks up’ tbPR or backlink number is: ‘what are they selling?’ Google talks tbPR up because it fixates webmasters on Google, many backlink sellers because it simplifies link valuation and creates an artificial controllable scarcity, the great bloggart-sphere because it is on auto-repeat.

    The two important SE considerations are (1) where am I in the SERPs for those pages I consider important and what traffic am I getting, retaining, and converting from that placement and (2) how can that be improved and is it worth the cost.

    So: not whether my tbPR went up, down, or sideways but did my SERP, my traffic, my ROI? The two are not now nor indeed ever been synonymous.

    The current panic seems a deliberate Google FUD creation: (1) institute widespread tbPR decreases while actually changing nothing in the algo itself; (2) the tbPR watchers will scream ‘FIRE’, panic the webmaster bloggart and fora-spheres, analyse every deviation and SERP change on a fictious factor; (3) and Google gets another free quality ride: afterall it’s not G’s fault if sites no longer ‘measure up’ quite as well…

    Beam me up, Scotty…

  6. October 25, 2007    

    returned) has actually been dead for years.
    Well, maybe not “dead” as in “buried and done with” – it’s obviously more like a cherished mummy they can’t let hold of for various reasons (sentimental? ego related? algorithmic? maybe all of this combined.), but essentially dysfunctional.
    IMV they’ve actually let the cat out of the bag this time – using the toolbar as a kind of conduit for symbolic politics and social engineering (as most analysts have gauged the current situation) merely underlines how immaterial it has all become.
    And I agree with Donna that the worst is probably yet to come. In terms of netlove Google may have transmuted from everybody’s darling to one of the best hated entities on the WWW, which essentially makes them a critically wounded giant – but giants threshing about in their agony can still cause tremendous damage going down…

  7. October 26, 2007    

    My longggg time friend, “Fantomaster”, has left a comment in my blog. Made my day!

    I couldn’t help to feel miffed at Google for what happened at Cre8asiteforums’ PR score. Even though I had to actually go out hunt to get the score, because I never pay attention to those things, when I saw what it was reduced to, it feels crummy anyway.

    Google was never an entity I wanted to worship or be dependent on for anything, but success with that engine is good for business. When they turn around and do something illogical, with no reasons offered, it causes me to lose respect and any desire to do further business with them because now, I don’t trust them.

    I don’t work with people I can’t trust. It’s really as simmple as that.

  8. October 26, 2007    

    Pretty soon I’ll be making posts such as:

    1. How Google robs me of 3 hours of sleep every day

    2. Why I keep a Google talisman in my glove box

    3. How Google discovered which shampoo I use

    4. Why the barber asked me if I have a Google account before giving me a haircut

    5. Will the next generation of cars run on Google?

  9. October 27, 2007    

    With regret, I pulled off the 3 TLA ads on our static outer page, even though they never sat on the same software or directory as the Google Ad Sense ads.

    Next, we’re yanking Google Ads.

    We broke Google’s rules, and even though the money was used to fund scholarships and internships, apparently that didn’t make a difference.

    This has upset me deeply.

  10. October 28, 2007    

    Yep, it’s a threat, not related to rankings, and I agree that’s just a shot across the bows, not an actual penalty.

    The Google algo would restore your toolbar PR when you ask TLA to nofollow the links. :(

1 Trackback

  1. Search Engine Land: News About Search Engines & Search Marketing on October 25, 2007 at 1:07 pm
  2. The Blogospheres’ Clutter of Page Rank Rambles | Ian Fernando on October 26, 2007 at 10:15 am

Subscribe to Receive New Blog Posts

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner