Google Refunds My PageRank And Slaps John Chow Harder

Three months ago I wrote a post about how I was able to get Google to refund part of the -2 penalty that they had imposed on the PageRank of Court’s Internet Marketing School. If you missed that post, you can find it here: Why Google Refunded My PageRank Slap. At the time I suspected that Google only refunded one of the two points that they had originally taken, and it turns out that this is probably the case.

About two weeks ago I was sitting at PageRank 4 and still very suspicious that I still had a -1 PageRank penalty. I was hesitant to request reconsideration with Google, because I had already done a request about this issue a short three months ago. I decided to do it anyway, and using Google Webmaster Tools I went ahead and did the request.

Late last night I figured out that my PageRank had been increased to PR5. I’m sure that some of you are still showing PR4 and that it will take a few days to spread across the world. Since it doesn’t seem that Google is doing a global toolbar update right now, this probably means that they got to my request for reconsideration and decided to undo the PR slap they hit me with.

John Chow Slapped Harder

In related news, I noticed early this morning that JohnChow.com is showing up as a PR3 in many data centers, down another point from the PR4 he was earlier this month. To give you some perspective, JohnChow.com was a PR6 site about five months ago. This shouldn’t surprise anyone because John continues to sell advertising that passes PageRank. John doesn’t care anymore because his blog is already very popular. I would highly recommend not following his example if you care about the future of your online business.

How To Request Reconsideration With Google

In order to reconsider any penalties they have imposed on your site, Google wants to know three things:

  1. What you did wrong. In my case, I was selling links that passed PageRank. I explained to Google that I was doing this at one time and that I know that it was a mistake.
  2. That you have corrected the errors. For me, that meant taking down all of the links I had sold that passed PageRank. I created a brand new advertising program for my site that only included links that didn’t pass PageRank. That means basically that all the links you can buy from me have nofollows on them and are intended for advertising only. I had to explain this to Google.
  3. That you won’t make the mistake again. Google wants to hear you say that you aren’t going to make the mistake again. That means if you got penalized for doing PayPerPost, you will have to say you won’t write any more sponsored posts. If you got penalized for selling Text-Link-Ads, you need to say you won’t sell them again. I have no intention of ever selling links that pass PageRank, and I explained this to Google.

Once you have properly done the request for reconsideration, Google will take at least a few weeks to get to it. A search engineer will probably then check your site to see if you have corrected the errors that got you the penalty in the first place. As long as you have corrected everything they’re penalizing you for, it’s likely that they will undo the penalty.

Comments 68

  1. Hey Court,
    Congrats on getting you PR back. I personally wish I could get Google to do the same with my adsense account.

    Anyway what I was really wondering is where you got your RSS feed button in the top right? I’m having the worst time finding one for our new site.

    1. Post
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      Hey thanks! I actually paid a designer to design that RSS icon for me. It cost about $50 and I found the person at the Digital Point Marketplace.

      I had the same trouble so I resorted to my checkbook. 😉

      1. Ahhh yes… been resorting to that a lot lately… that will have to go into the optional pile for now… we’ve been working hard to institute your suggested changes and who knows we may be after you for a follow up review… and that along with a few upgrades we’ve been planning adds up quickly… but we’ll keep plugging away and I guess you need to spend money to make money

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          Oh no doubt. Overall you guys should be very excited about your business. It always takes time to get something like that going but you guys can seriously kill it with that model.

  2. Hey Court, I think there maybe is a pagerank update going on right now. I have several new sites that had 0 pagerank before yesterday and they are showing pagerank as of yesterday. What are your thoughts?

    1. Post
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      That could definitely be happening Mike. It’s hard to tell right now because the tools that you can usually use to check a bunch of different data centers are working right now. We’ll have to wait for a while to find out for sure, but yeah that’s evidence that it could be going on. 😉

    2. There needs to be a bigger pr update as the pr graph in Google Webmasters Tools saw update after a long long time… Since then I am smelling PR update..

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  3. My blog was previously a PR5 and then I did payperpost. BIG mistake and I know it now. I’ve removed some paid posts and added nofollow to the others that I get traffic on. I use OIO publisher plugin for my advertising which offers a user choice option. If they choose to remove the nofollow then they have to pay waaay more. I’m still debating on that part. I haven’t asked for reconsideration because I’m not sure if my site is up to par yet. Hopefully soon though!
    Congrats on your PR:)

  4. Does every single link on my site have to have the no follow tag?
    I am confused about where the ‘cut off line’ is.

    Also – I have removed some sites that don’t link back to me, just trying to clean things up… but I like the idea of having all the sites I do as a resource for others.
    Thanks for your input!!

    1. Oh another comment –
      Since moving my domain, I have dropped from a PR4 to a 0, but that was about 3 months ago, so I am slowly getting back some of my SEO and organic traffic.

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      Hey Dawn!

      No, every single link does not have to have the nofollow tag. Every single link that you are compensated for has to have the nofollow tag. If you write a sponsored post, it has to have the nofollow tag. If you sell a link, it has to have the nofollow tag.

      1. Thanks!
        How do they know if something is paid for or not?
        And what about those blogad ‘picture links’ that are on site, do they need a no follow tag somewhere?

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          Mainly they know because there are thousands of people that tattle on everyone but they also have algorithms that attempt to detect this kind of thing. Once you have been detected they will probably inspect manually and hit you if you’re selling links that don’t have nofollows.

          Most of the blogad links are probably generated by Javascript so they wouldn’t pass PageRank anyway.

    1. Post
      Author

      Well Frank let me ask you a series of questions to determine what the exact situation is. If you are 100% honest with me I can probably help you.

      – Have you ever written a sponsored post or a paid review? By taking a look at some of your posts, I have identified some that could be sponsored (I’m not saying they are):

      http://optempo.com/2007/10/30/tailoredmusiccom-make-your-own-music/
      http://optempo.com/2007/11/24/visiting-the-georgia-sea-turtle-center/

      – Have you ever had a PayPerPost account?

      – Have you ever has a SponsoredReviews account?

      – Have you ever had a ReviewMe.com account?

      – Have you ever sold a link that passed PageRank? This question is more complicated than it initially sounds. For example, I have noticed that you have nofollows on your banners. Did you have nofollows on those banners from day 1 or was there a time when the nofollows weren’t there?

      By the way Frank I apologize but if you could refresh my memory on the history of changes to your PageRank that would be helpful – I’m thinking that you went from a 3 to a 0 but am not 100% sure about that.

      Right now I’m showing you as PR3 on my toolbar so some of the damage my have already been done if my memory of your history serves me correctly.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to look around on my site Court. I appreciate it.

        Tailored Music was an unsolicited review I did after reading about it on a music forum I frequent. Sea Turtle Center I wrote about after visiting there myself.

        I do have a Sponsored Reviews account but all the links on those reviews have been nofollowed. I don’t bid on reviews that require followed links or no disclosure.

        I’ve had nofollows on all ads from the start. The only exception might have been the one that WidgetBucks slipped into their code at one point but I dumped them pretty quickly.

        I’ve never had a PR on the OpTempo home page although the About page has a PR3 and a few other internal pages have PR1-3.

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          Ok Frank you just gave me the information that I need to see that in this case it probably isn’t a slap for selling links. While the SponsoredReveiws.com account could have caused a problem, I don’t think it did in this case.

          When Google knocked sites down for selling links, it affected ALL of the pages in the site. For example, my PR3 pages dropped to PR1, my PR4 pages dropped to PR2, my PR2 pages dropped to PR0. Since your site wasn’t hit globally, it seems very unlikely to me that it happened for this reason.

          Frank I know you’re not going to want to believe this, but in my opinion it was probably a fluke – really bad timing. A server error at the wrong time could have caused Google to drop the page from their index temporarily and if this happens at the wrong time it can get marked as PR0. Since Google only updates toolbar PageRank once every few months it would remain as a zero until the next update.

          I can tell you that right now your homepage is a PR3, even if you can’t see it yet. It seems that right now there is an update going on and you have the redemption you’ve been looking for. You should be able to see the change within a few days.

  5. Hi Court
    I’m worried about this post of yours… normally, you wear your heart on your sleeve and show us the passion you feel for your site and internet marketing.
    In this post you’re factual – no emotion – no mention that you’re happy to get your PR back.
    It reads like a forced confession; ‘I did wrong, I confessed my wrongdoing, I was forgiven, thank Goog’.
    Please, don’t think me rude for writing this but I follow you because I like reading the stuff you write – not because Google decides to give you a 4 or a 5…

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks for your concern! The honest truth is that while I think it’s cool that I now have a PR5 site, it isn’t going to affect my business at all.

      To me the site is the exact same as it was yesterday, I guess that’s why it really doesn’t excite me that much. I don’t think that the people that read my site will think of me any differently at all.

      Sorry if you didn’t like the post but from time to time I write posts that are more news than anything else.

      I would never think you were rude because you left a comment like that.

      I don’t see it as a forced confession at all – I really DID make a mistake that I wouldn’t make again. I knowingly put my business in jeopardy and I feel fortunate to get off as easily as I did.

      People don’t realize that really Google let people off easy on this issue. They never took people’s rankings away and if I was at Google and had this problem, that’s what I would have done.

      People got super mad at Google but they only took away people’s ability to sell increases in their rankings, nothing more. I sold increases in their rankings and got caught. The consequences were quite small actually, considering what they could have been.

  6. Ok, Seriously, what I don’t understand is why John Chow who is now going to charge $500.00 per paid review (and pass page rank with those reviews), is not zapped down to a 0 PR.

    He knows what he is doing and doesn’t care one bit. It seems like he of all people should be a big fat zero.

    I would guess that many of the smaller bloggers, like me, didn’t even know we were doing anything wrong. Why does Google take everything away from the smaller bloggers and yet still have him at a 3?

    It doesn’t make sense to me and makes me firmly believe that he and other big bloggers are getting preferential treatment. I know you probably disagree but that is the way I feel. And “feelings” can’t be wrong in the politically correct world we live in 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      John Chow SHOULD be a PR0 site in all honesty. Keep in mind that his punishment is far worse than yours though – his rankings were affected by the smack Google laid down on him.

      Your traffic isn’t being affected – that is far more important than the number in the Google toolbar.

      With that in mind, it would be safe to say the smaller blogs are getting preferential treatment. 🙂

      Ok nuker I’m willing to help you to get to the bottom of the issue, but I would need to know exactly what you said to Google when you requested reconsideration. Let me know and then we can move forward.

      1. Thanks Court but its cool. I don’t have time to really care that much about my blog anymore as I am on to the bigger and better things you, Vic, and Grizzly talk about.

        I guess the whole thing has always rubbed me the wrong way because I was a newbie and had no idea I was doing anything wrong in Google’s eyes. You read many of the authority sites and do what they say and then WHAP! Google comes down on you before you even know what happened. That is why I have a particular disdain for many of the A list bloggers.

  7. Congrats Court on getting your page rank back.

    Your site is still the same, but it nice you have the numbers to back up the quality now.

    I personally don’t consider some things like selling links as always being “wrong” or “unethical”. But Google is the big boy on the net, so we have to follow their rules. (I understand that paid links messes up their business model)

    They make us jump through loops for them sometimes, but the pay off is worth it.

    Congrats! Looking forward to your PR 6!

  8. Court,

    Ok, I know about PPP and the no-follow issues. I have a PR 5 site, as of the last update, and I have been doing quite a few PPP lately to support my habit of buying used domain names.

    (A fella’s gotta have a vice!)

    I am using no-follow on all links, and have a universal disclosure notice on my site as well. I don’t mention PPP at all.

    Should I be worried about getting slapped?

    1. Post
      Author

      In my opinion, you should be ok as long as you nofollow every single link that you are compensated for.

      You may still run the risk of people reporting you for selling links, but you should be ok if Google checks you out.

      You shouldn’t have to worry about getting slapped.

  9. I don’t really understand Google’s Page Rank. I’ve seen Page Rank change (up and down) but no change in traffic. Google slapping John Chow hasn’t affected him at all. If anything he’s been making more money!

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      Patrick PageRank and page ranking are two totally different things. PageRank is just a metric that Google uses to determine how important a page is, but traffic comes from authority built for a specific keyword.

  10. Court I sell ads thats it I do have Pay per post account and Review me but never used either. Should I ad no follows to all ads and does it matter if I’m a registered user but never got paid for post?

    1. Post
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      Hey Don! Yes, you should ad nofollows to the ads you sell if you want to avoid trouble with Google.

      If you are a registered user that has never participated on those sites, you should be fine. If you were going to get slapped it probably already would have happened. If you do run into a problem in the future, it should be pretty easy to explain it to Google and they’ll undo it.

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  12. Thanks for breaking it down and not being a Chow fanboy. You’re able to write about his good ideas/practices and then write equally about his wrong ideas/practices. Thank you for being very down to earth.

    By the way, Frank C’s optempo.com showed as a PR3 on my toolbar.

    1. I guess some sort of “Google Dance” is going on right now since I’m still showing PR0 here. Thanks for the info and, to Court, thanks once again for your insights.

  13. Hi Court I just had to subscribe to your post as I need kind of strightforward information.I read up on the bloggingmix about review sites but it did not contain the google caveat. Sorry I am a newbie and maybe I should have known. I am going to read up some more on this no follow tag and how to remove it from links as if I am to make money from blogging I may well need to get paid for some post.

  14. Court–

    Congrats on getting back your pagerank. I have noticed your subscribers climbing very rapidly. Does this have anything to do with your increase in pagerank and thus more respect in Goodle search?

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  16. I really fail to see why you care about PR so much. If you are putting a nofollow on the advertising links it doesn’t matter what your PR is since you don’t pass PageRank anyway. I wish people would stop putting a high value on PR. It is one of a hundred different criteria that Google uses to rank your site. I have sites ranking #1 for terms and none of them have a PR above 4 and most PR 3. Check out ‘smoothie recipes’ for a great example.

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  17. Sorry if I misunderstood, but your entire blog post was about trying to recapture your PR, so I assumed it was important to you. Glad to see I was wrong. But I do think it gives the impression that PR has more value than it does.

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  19. Court,

    I think I got slapped BIG TIME! I went from a PR 3 to a PR 0

    I also think I know why and I’ve just recently removed the links from my footer. I guess I could plead ignorance but that would probably work just as well as when I get pulled over for a traffic violation.

    My question is this:

    Do I need to have nofollow on affiliate links that are in my posts?

    Actually, I usually use http://EasyLinkManager.com to create 301 redirects for all of my affiliate links. So they look like this: http://1cat.biz/asc instead of some long affiliate URL.

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks, Barry O

    1. Post
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      Barry O, yes you do need to use nofollows on affiliate links in your posts.

      Google wants us to included nofollows on all links that we are compensated for.

      Even though you’re using redirects, you will still need to use nofollows. A 301 redirect actually passes the PageRank on to the destination URL!

      1. I noticed that you are also using nofollow on your comment links.

        I’ve heard conflicting reports on this. Some say do follow some say don’t.

        Obviously you don’t think they should be on. Does it hurt or help to have dofollow on comments?

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          The do follow mentality can really help you to increase your social interaction.

          I had to add ‘nofollows’ because of the amount of comments this blog generates. I have posts that have over 200 comments and that would mean 200 out-bound links from that single page. That’s way too many so for me nofollow is a necessity.

  20. Court about 6 weeks ago, I submitted a re-inclusion request and human review of my site. The recent PR took me form a 3 to a 2. While your advice was not published at the time, apparently we think alike because I followed the steps you wrote on on my own. I basically stated with all my hosting issues and being on a shared IP address with undesirables etc etc to please consider my request, I went so far as to remove my Featured Sties list as a precaution from my blog. I told them my ignorance was not an excuse but they could be sure it would not happen again, I have heard nothing, however today my tool bar is bouncing back and forth between 2 and 3 , with PR checker sites slowly but surely all changing to 3 , with a few 7’s yeah right LOL, dont know if its real or a glitch but I guess time will tell

  21. Wow! I want to start a blog and thought I had done my homework but I don’t have a clue as to what you all are talking about. Where do I go to find out about all this stuff?

  22. It’s funny you mentioned this as I saw my own PR rise to 4 the other day. All I did was delete all the stuff from paid posts but never wrote to Google about it asking for inclusion.

    Well, I certainly ain’t complaining. 😉

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  24. Congrats on your PageRank increase Court.

    If truth be known, JC is probably getting a good share of his traffic from Yahoo and MSN. The last time I looked, he was ranking on the first page on both SE’s for the phrase “Make Money Online”.

    But, no doubt he’d trade that traffic for G’s traffic. But like you said, he doesn’t have to worry about it any longer due to his reader base.

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  27. John Chow doesn’t seem to care about his PageRank. His blog is there to earn money and what he is doing is obviously working for him as he’s consistently earning around $30k a month now so this begs the question again of how important PR really is.

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  29. Congrats on getting your PR back. I wonder where Google is heading with all these changes. I believe that PR and other method of calculation might eventually change drastically and maybe the search results will also revolve around what people like (a voting system like Digg or similar site). That could definetely take care of all the bad site cheating and ranking high when they offer no value in term of content.

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