Here's a fantastic post from Lesley @ Fashiontribes.
The mystery of how Google ranks the quality of a particular website is - like the whereabouts of Osama, how Promises stays in business...& Paris Hilton - developing one of the great unsolved puzzles of our time. The subject of countless articles, blog posts, and even an entire industry devoted to making your site sexier in the eyes of Google, PageRank (PR) was devised by co-founder Larry Page during his Stanford days spent researching a new breed of search engine. PageRank (yes, it's spelled that way, and yes, it's a trademark of Google) denotes whether Google deems your site valuable & where on their food chain
you rate on a scale of 1-10; ten = good, one or less = bad (& very bad). Not only does PR affect what you can charge for advertising, but it directly impacts where you place in a Google
search and your corresponding Google traffic.
Naturally, an industry has sprung up to help lesser sites buy their way to a higher PR. Although ethically questionable, a number of larger blogs have been accepting payment in exchange for linking to lesser sites - solely for the purpose of boosting the smaller site's PR. Linkwhores & so-called Blog Link Farms fill their sites with these lucrative links to the lower foodchain sites, regardless of whether the content of the lesser site actually relates in any way or is deserving of a higher PR.
John Chow - was completely removed from the index; search for "John Chow" now & JohnChow.com comes up around page 7 notes Courtney Tuttle. (Search Engine Land has a more complete list of the major sites who lost PR ranking.)A Google-Sized Hypocrite
According to Google, the official reason for the PageRank adjustment is to preserve the quality of links & ensure they lead to relevant editorial content rather than a "bad neighborhood"; ie. to help protect users from inadvertently clicking on an unrelated site (essentially like clicking on an ad) or ending up on a web-spamming site. It is their search engine so they have every right to penalize you for selling links, points out Search Engine Land about the fact that Google isn't actually dictating to people what to do with their sites. "Don't care about Google?" they ask. "Sell all the links you want...If Google traffic is important to you, don't sell links."
However, the tech-centric bloggers have identified the real issue as this: these links are supplanting Google's cut of the link business; if you want to earn link revenue, they want you to use their AdWords.
In a delightfully dramatic flourish, he even quotes the lyrics from an 80s Human League hit:
You were working as a
waitress in a cocktail bar
When I met you
I picked you out,
I shook you up and turned you around
Turned you into someone
Now five years later on you’ve got the world at your feet
Success has been so easy for you
But don’t forget it’s me who
put you where you are now
And I can put you back down
And Now for the Good News!
The banned Mr. Chow shrugs off his disastrous PR penalty by pointing out that link sellers will simply come up with a new pricing structure that has nothing to do with PageRank. Courtney Tuttle agrees, asking: "Does Google want PageRank to be irrelevant? If they do, they're doing a fine job."And TechWag finds a silver lining in the fact that the downgrade against massive sites, combined with the fact that good content is now a more valuable tool for luring people to your site, is actually good news for smaller blogs. Why? It rewards what we do best - blogging. "Pretend like search engines are not even a traffic option, and instead focus on repeat traffic and referral sources that no one can take away," advises CopyBlogger, explaining that the real reason for their success has been to ignore SEO gymnastics & subterfuge, and focus instead on producing high quality content. "While people work hard to attract links to rank better in search engines, you’ve got to realize that some of the highest quality traffic comes directly from the links."