It looks as if Google is really cracking down on blogs selling links ads. For instance, a little while back I noticed several popular city-blogs in my area which lost Google PageRank on most of their pages except the home page and maybe one or two others that I missed. These are well-respected blogs in their community. The thing all of these blogs have in common is that they have DoFollow links in the sidebar and throughout the site where advertisers are linked to through either a text link or a banner link.
Two example blogs are the West Seattle Blog and the B-Town Blog, which used to have Google PageRank visible throughout their sites, but now show a PageRank of zero on nearly every page except the home page. I haven’t paid close enough attention to say for sure whether those websites have actually been penalized in any way other than not showing PageRank in the toolbar, but I bet they aren’t very happy about it and it definitely doesn’t look too good.
Part of me thinks it is great that Google is cracking down on them because I feel like most bloggers or businesses outside of the SEO industry can get away with selling frowned-upon type services, or manipulating the search results for their own websites as long as they play ignorant. Whereas someone who acknowledges themselves as an SEO is likely have their every action scrutinized. It would be nice to have a more even playing field. But on the other hand, it is obvious most of the major websites with bigger pockets are still free to do what they want. Which furthers my conclusion Google is getting even worse about showing favoritism towards the already wealthy major brands. Thus making it even more difficult for most of us to compete with them.
I know of several of these brands, or brand-backed investor websites that can get away with just about anything, and I’m sure Google does too. But, I’m not sure I want to start outing anyone specifically just yet, on this blog. It’s not going to help me any, and will probably only hurt my reputation and my business going forward. So instead of telling you who’s getting away with what, I think my time is better spent sharing what has worked for me, and what I watch out for. In this case it appears the smaller guy really has to go by the book, whereas the brands don’t really have to fear being penalized for the same things. Which is notable – by recognizing how you fit into these categories can be a total game changer regarding how you’re allowed to practice SEO and operate your website, without fear of being penalized by the search engines.
Do you think it is good that Google is cracking only down on these “smaller” websites and blogs? Have you seen this with any of the larger brands too, or do you think Google is playing brand favoritism?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.