As you may know, CourtneyTuttle.com was part of the mass carnage PageRank slappage gone double slappage turned into a real update that wasn’t really that real. Within a one month period, this site was slapped from a PR3 site to a PR2 to a PR1, and then raised back up to a PR3 during the real toolbar PageRank update. Since I had many more links than I had when I first got a PR3, I, along with many other SEO people, assumed that I had suffered a penalty for selling links.
This assumption was correct, and Google had done their best to thwart link selling, at least the kind of link selling that passes PageRank. Sites everywhere were penalized with drops of visible PageRank.
Now this is where it got pretty tricky for people that were selling links. I decided that I could make almost as much selling links that had nofollows on them, so I refunded the money for my sold text links and took them down. I then launched a new ad program that ad nofollows on every type of advertising you can buy on this site. I still link out all the time with regular links – the only thing that’s changed is I don’t sell links without nofollows anymore.
Some people wouldn’t be willing to cut ad dollars to conform with Google and I’m cool with that. Every situation is different. Google is a very significant traffic source for me and I personally can make more money with that traffic than I could without it. As soon as I got my site to the point where I didn’t have any links that were being sold I decided to let Google know. To inform Google, I did two things:
- I did a reinclusion request in Google Webmaster Tools. When you do this request, Google wants to know three things: what you did, how you fixed your mistake, and that you won’t do it again. I explained my situation to Google and let them know that I had no intention of selling more links that would pass PageRank.
- I left a really annoying essay of a comment on Matt Cutts blog, explaining to him the exact same stuff. I don’t think this really helped – Matt deleted the comment and I never heard from him.
It’s now been about two weeks since the biggest PageRank slappage of all time, and if you check my PR now you’ll see that suddenly I have a 4 instead of a 3. Since Google doesn’t alert you when I make a fix, I can only assume that they finally got to my reinclusion request, which they said would take a few weeks. Most of my other pages also went up exactly one point as well, which is another piece of evidence that my PageRank was manually, positively altered.
I didn’t want to come right out and say that PageRank doesn’t matter when I was sitting at a meager PR1. Now that I have been able to restore my PageRank, I can tell you that it doesn’t make one bit of difference. Is my site any better than it was yesterday? I don’t think so. The #1 reason I wanted to clear the air with Google was to avoid any ranking penalties that could befall sites that sell links that pass PageRank. I have no idea if the entire penalty was removed or if I’m still down one of the two penalty points.
I don’t sell any links that pass PageRank, so why would I care what my PageRank is? One thing is certain – this process helped me to protect future rankings and that fact makes it worthwhile.