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Google PR: Does it really matter?




Been receiving emails in the last 24 hours about the recent and radical changes in Google PageRank. The growing trend is downhill, especially for popular and highly trusted sites. Despite all these, the question remains — does it really matter?

Let me answer several of the more important questions thrown at me.

Does a PageRank drop really matter?

If you’re not selling links for PR juice, why should it matter? So, if you don’t sell ads on your site or blog, the PR is just for decorative purposes. Five years ago, it might represent some sort of authority but that perception has been devalued or totally erased now. Will people stop reading your blog? Will feed readers un-subscribe? Will blogs not link to you anymore?

If you are selling links on your site, a PR drop will matter — financially, that is. Link ad brokers have always used the PR as a huge factor to put a value for a raw link on your site. So, if you’re getting $60 a pop at TLA before, a -2 change in PR could slash that amount to at least third.

Jayvee proposes that blog networks should not rely on AdSense or Text Link Ads for their revenue stream. This is true — but not on blog networks alone but for everyone. I believe it’s even more recommended for independent bloggers as they do not have the same massive clout, sales force or cumulative traffic as a blog network.

In fact, I think this development might even kill the viability of narrow verticals with small traffic within a blog network. Imagine a blog network paying a blogger $250 a month for a blog that only generates 20,000 pageviews. The network might just earn a total $100 when computing a $5 CPM from direct ads. Without additional fixed revenue from link ads (which is independent of site traffic), the network stands to lose $150 a month from the setup. Multiple that with dozens of really very narrow niches that would not be profitable if they’d just go direct ads on a CPM basis.

How will this affect your revenue or business?

It depends. How much of your overall revenue stream comes from selling link ads? Say you have 3 income sources for your blog — AdSense, Direct and TLA. All three contribute equal amounts of monthly income. You got hit by a -2 PR drop. Your link ad prices have been devalued by 66%. If all the rest remained the same, you still have 88.7% of your original income intact. That percentage will shift either way depending on how much you rely on link ads.

The key is always spread your income sources as wide as you can. In my case, this development might set me back between 10 – 15% of monthly revenue projections.

Likewise, it also pays to have your ad deals put on a longer time period. Most of the ads I have here have been paid for the next 6 to 12 months. By the time they’ll expire, the blog would have undergone at least 2 more PR updates. Who knows, it might just improve later?


Does a low PR mean a lower traffic?

This is one misconception a lot of bloggers have. And I mean a lot.

If there’s one valuable lesson this has taught many of us, it’s the realization that high PR does not mean high traffic. So, even at a much lower PageRank, referral traffic from Google still remains the same.

The blog still ranks well for the usual keywords. There’s not been any drastic shuffling in the SERPs. I’d rather lose PR than lose my prized position in the SERPs.

Is this a warning shot from Google?

It sure does look like it. Nobody would believe in the FUD before. Now, the FUD is real. Andrews shares some relevant stats from Ratified — 58 down, 14 up, and 407 steady.

Aaron Wall says maybe it’s time for a better rank system and calls on Yahoo’s WebRank or an Ask CommunityRank. Loren Baker adds that PageRank is no longer a Marketing Metrics.

People from TLA have emailed publishers that they will not change current pricing despite the recent changes and have actually expressed intentions of removing PR for link valuations.

Will bloggers get scared of selling links or doing paid reviews now?

Most likely. The ones that have not been able to sell links (but are already advertising to do so) will be the first one. My question though is this — so why are you still interested in a higher PageRank when you’re not gonna sell links for PR anyway or if we’ve already established that PR does not correlate to higher traffic?

One thing’s for sure, link brokers like TLA or PPP will mostly feel the burn. It’s Google’s way of trumping businesses competing against their AdWords/AdSense tandem.

Footnotes:
CPM – cost per thousand (ad impressions)
SERPs – seach engine result pages
FUD – fear, uncertainty, doubt



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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36 Responses

  1. Miguel says:

    The down side of direct advertising is that non-fulltime/sideline bloggers need to spend time on negotiating and managing the contract with the advertisers. That is like having a part time job already, isn’t it?

  2. Kiven says:

    “I’d rather lose PR than lose my prized position in the SERPs.” – couldn’t have said it better…

  3. jhay says:

    My blog is not that very popular, with a PR 5 rating it was a big boost in terms of earnings from TLA. Right now, my main source of income is TLA and I was relieved that my PR was not slashed down by Google.

    But I’m still anxious, it could also happen to me anytime. Getting direct advertisers are so hard that’s why I stick with AdSense and TLA, it covers the monthly phone + internet bill and helps a lot in my schooling.

    That’s why despite my monthly AdSense and TLA checks, I still don’t have my own MacBook or a decent laptop, no DSLR, no spanking new iPod.

  4. ManuelV says:

    Yuga, will you eventually use nofollow?

    Also, do you this this PR drop will later turn into a ranking drop in the Google SERPs and reduction of Google traffic if some bloggers are “matigas ang ulo”?

  5. Rickey says:

    I imagine a chain reaction occurred where the blogs/sites that were giving yugatech.com its Google-juice all of a sudden were devaluated — you should have diversified Abe! LOL

    Does low PR mean low traffic? Of course!

    A couple of days ago I posted about “Marie Osmond Faints” on Dancing with the Stars. Because Google is so awesome right now with its indexing, within 10 minutes, my post was #1 on Google for “Marie Osmond Faints”. I got about 300 visits from that. After an hour however, my post was quickly over-shadowed by sites with higher PR, and today its not even in the top 100. This has happened so many times to me, so yes, I argue that if my blog had a higher PR I would get more traffic because my posts would stick.

  6. I have been able to get to a 5 rating also so I think it has helped me bigtimes!

  7. @Miguel, so bloggers should also diversify content and blogging: have a network blog to help you with traffic and direct ads and have your own blog to experiment on your own. It’s a little more work but you stand to gain on both.

  8. yuga says:

    @ migs — yup, direct advertising is the hardest part to do and they don’t come too often.

    @ manuelv — based on the profile of affected sites, there’s no clear indication that not selling links, using nofollow and abiding by the Google TOS will help maintain the PageRank. Besides, the toolbar PR is just a decorative figure. Remember that the real internal PR and your SERPs constantly changes and recalculated almost in real-time.

    @ rickey — there’s no solid empirical data to support that premise. If you want to analyze SERPs ranking vis-a-vis PageRank, monitor the keywords that you’ve consistently ranked for at least 3 months (not keywords from freshly published post — so many other extraneous factors on that one).

    Also remember that PR is computed on a per page, not per domain. So all freshly published posts from say 10 blogs will ALL have a PR0. What will determine rankings is relevance, inbound links, keyword density, title, meta, URL structure and others.

  9. BrianB says:

    I’ve retained my page rank. ha ha.

  10. BrianB says:

    wait, one point lower on one blog.

  11. marhgil says:

    the question is, will this PageRank downgrade affect SERPs in the near future? Pwedeng ngayon, wala pang epekto, e bukas, makalawa? Time will tell. Kapag natalo na kita sa dami ng visitors, that will be the proof. Hehehe. But I doubt it will happen. Ang gulo ko. :)

  12. yuga says:

    @marghil – that’s basically the misnomer. The Toolbar Pagerank now is just a public migration of the real PR which has been in effect several months before. It means that if I’m on PR3 via the toolbar, the real PR must have been PR3 months before now.

    If PR would have made its effect in the SERPs, then the blogs would have felt it by now.

  13. Rickey says:

    @abe: There are many factors I know, but PR 8 will always beat PR 5 — even in link-building. I don’t know if you have tested this already but I have a feeling that one link from a PR 8 will always beat links from 10 PR 3s. This is the whole basis for the PR-link-selling business! People buy expired domains because of PR. Why the sour grapes now that PR doesn’t matter? You’ve made money selling TLAs because they supposedly mattered. Again, through my experience when I do my “panic” posts, the higher PR websites will always beat me eventually in the raw SERPs (without backlinks) — you can deny this all you want. You mean to tell me MSNBC makes the best formed PR 0 posts on the planet? I don’t think so.

    Google wants us to live in a perfect world, but that’s obviously not going to happen. I think this was a penalty for websites engaging in certain behavior (intentionally or not — maybe we all trusted blogherald, etc.) and not an overhaul of the PR system. The PR drop cascaded through different websites which is how the system works. The drop of engadget for example may have been done to trigger a drop in the AOL sites blessed by its PR-juice by merely being part of the network and nothing else.

  14. yuga says:

    @Rickey, I think this is where the 2005 Google-patended TrustRank comes in.

  15. Lonely Pinoy says:

    For me, Google PR really matters. Advertisers look for blogs with high PR especially in Sponsored Reviews.

  16. elmer says:

    hmmm … maybe that’s the reason why engadget.com is now on top of me in SERP?. pero partida hindi updated ang blog ko.

  17. BrianB says:

    elmer,

    Are you being ironic? But check out Engadget and Gizmodo’s pagerank. They’re quite low now.

  18. Miguel says:

    Pagerank is just ONE of the factors affecting your SERP.

  19. Jon says:

    I agree on Miguel. It is just one of many factors. Going paranoid on it is really useless. Why are we talking about PR anyway? :)

    But I do believe there’s an Internal Page Rank that Google will probably not publish in anyway.

  20. Frank says:

    I’ve always felt this was a good thing!

    http://www.xtremegadgets.net

  21. BrianB says:

    Update: the PMPToday PR just jumped to five or the same level as engadget. Yesterday it was 2.

  22. autocad says:

    I agree with Abe regarding the page rank does not really affect the SERP. Just this January 2007, my site went from PR4 to PR3. All or most of the sites with the same theme loose a bit of their PR like mine. This really affected me but actually the traffic remained almost the same.

    Then after a few months the traffic increased from Google three times as before but the PR3 remains the same. Before, Yahoo makes approximately 85% of my traffic, Google was approx. 10%. But now Google makes almost 40% at maximum.

  23. iRonnie says:

    with a PR of zero, im earning more in selling links compared to adsense. now why would i care with my PR rank? it just serve as a moral boost.

  24. Chino Yray says:

    Does low PR mean low traffic? Of course!

    I agree with this. Especially for blogs that depends on the search engine to get some traffic. My blog has always been the Top 1 for the “earn free lindens” in Second Life and “free lindens” of the Virtual World.

    50% of my traffic is from Google and I’m loving the PR4 right now. Because of that ranking, my blog will surely stay there on the top for such keywords.

  25. Mike Lopez says:

    I also suffered a PR drop more than 2 months ago and traced (possibly) the cause to incoming links in the form of spam URLs resulting to 404s on my site. In a matter of days, Google reported 3000+ 404 errors on my site so I decided to take action on it. Now my PR is back up to PR4 – still one notch less from the original PR5. Full details of what I did can be found at http://seo.mikelopez.info/2007/10/27/pr-update-mikelopezinfo-goes-back-up-to-pr4/

  26. Yehey! I’m the biggest winner in Ratified!!! Shooting my PR up from PR N/A to PR4 for http://olympicblogger.blogspot.com! Well… there’s this other blog about photography but we both did the same 0-4. I’d say it was a great achievement in my case because I just started that blog 8-3-2007! :D

    I have another blog that went from PR N/A to PR4! http://callcenterveteran.blogspot.com

    That blog I started 6-26-2007!

    Salamat Google!

  27. BTW I rank higher (41) in Ratified than the photography blog (218) so I guess that really makes me the biggest winner in ratified. Yahoo! :D este Google pala… hehe

  28. Arsene says:

    Site de telechargements et services 100% gratuits.

  29. AFCnews says:

    I was thrilled with the last Gunners match the other week, id love it if we can get the points up and stay first in the premier league, Come on you gunners!

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