Why Google Refunded My PageRank Slap

PageRank 4As 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.

The Decision

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

The Outcome

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.

Comments 43

  1. “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.”

    Well there’s the thing, isn’t it? Will Google reduce SERPs for any sites selling links without a link condom in the future? My guess is that they will.

    The visible PR reduction was the warning fired across the bows – keep on doing what you’re doing and we’ll blow you out of the water.

    The question is when will they do it? My feelings are that if you’re running a link campaign in the New Year without wearing your Big G prophylactic (ribbed for their pleasure, incidentally) that you will get a much bigger slap than the one we received last month. The ultimate slap. The removal from the SERPs and this one will take longer to fix than the 2-3 weeks you experienced.

  2. I have to agree with Frank. Google is specifically targeting sites that work with their competitors and penalizing them. To me, this reeks of anti-trust and racketeering.
    A Google link bar looks just like a row of TLA and provides no better “user experience” – it is just that TLA is willing to pay the site owner better than Google.
    Yet, while we all say “PR does not matter” it looks like we are all Google whores and they own us. We let them slap us and then do just what they ask. We will do only and everything they say.

  3. I also got slapped with pagerank penalties. First one was a drop from PR5 to PR4. Then a week or two later, one of my readers told me that my blog dropped to a PR3.

    I’m also planning to send a reinclusion request and hopefully will have the same results as you had.

    More power to you and your blog! Have a good weekend! 😀

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  6. Congrats Court.

    I’ve noticed quite a few sites have been reinstated in the last day – most notably statcounter is back up to a 10 from the 6 it was slapped down to. Like you he quickly added the no-follow to his ads after the slap. Makes me wonder if Google is doing this for everyone who complies – like the whole episode was a warning and they picked on a few of you as an example to all.

    Course we will never know and they won’t tell.

  7. Congratulations for getting your PageRank 4 refunded, that’s great!

    Thanks for sharing this information. Hopefully I’ll never get slapped by Google, but if I do I’ll know what to do.

    Maybe I should consider starting selling links as nofollow like you are. Currently they don’t have that property on them. I’m not sure if anyone would even buy them if they’re nofollow though. I’m selling links for $5 right now and getting no purchases anyway, so maybe I could play it safe with Google and follow their rules.

    Thanks Court! 🙂

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  9. Congrats Court on being proactive and helping your PR. But like you said, the blog hasn’t changed and most like neither has your potential to attract advertisers.

    Interesting though with the “nofollow”. It is a point that Grizzly touched on on his blog too and certainly of importance I believe for future avoidance of the slap.

    Time will tell in the end.

    Monika 🙂

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  11. Well to my great surprise during all the carnage my PR on my other blog – netmonetization.com – went up from 2 to 3 – I’ve got no idea why but so far it hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference to the number of readers I get ! I was expecting an improvement but no such luck.

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  13. good for you. congratulations. My opinions on this page rank issues and what google did is if good things outweigh bad than i would follow. to me anything or systems that can be played and manipulated by the use of money would always lead to bad things. it has happen in the past and it will definitely will be happening in the future.

  14. Hi Court,

    This PR update is weird. I went from a 0 to 3, but now it looks like it’s 0 again. Very strange. Seems like they should make up their minds (or maybe I’m looking in the wrong places?)

  15. is it such a good thing to admit to G that you sold links? i am apprehensive to do such a thing. i think things are still shaking out so i willnot write them.

    is this slap for all external links or sites you own or on your server are excluded?


  16. congrats on getting your PR4 back. I guess there are as many different ways to deal with the PR issue as there are blogs.

    Some don’t see a need to “give in” to Google and sell links anyway, some find it nessesary to follow Google’s outline for “good practices”.

    I think each blog/site needs to find what is best for their particular layout, traffic, readers, and finances and go with that.

    Thanks for the update. Scott

  17. If you have a high PR then you can get paid nicely for PPP for a while until Google lowers your PR and then you are left with all the $5.00 posts. So it looks to me like it is very hard to make money in that way now.

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  20. Hey court,,,, Congrats for getting the PR back.. i am little sad about the google treatment towards my site http://hem.com.np they first gave PR to my blog to 4 ( which was from 0 to 4 ) and now they are changing it to 2 .. i am really pissed off with this.. pls tell me how do i request them to review this..

    i cant find where i can make “reinclusion request ” Please elaborate.. Thanks

    1. Post

      Hi Hem! Sorry to hear about this. To do a reinclusion request you will first have to get a Google Webmaster Tools account. There is a link to Google Webmaster Tools in the above post. Once you get an account you will sign in and on the right hand side you will see a link that says ‘Request reconsideration’.

  21. Pingback: Yet another time for WTF .. Google decreased my PR from 4 to 2 | Tech,Fun,This n That at www.Hem.com.np

  22. Wow! I had no idea that Google would be looking into such requests on a case by case basis and replying so quickly! What was the comment you posted on Matt’s blog – can you share? I never found Matt to be so “champ” that people make him out to be. What do you think?

  23. Google’s Page Rank is garbage. It doesn’t tell you anything. I have a site that went from a 4 to a 1 a year ago for absolutely no reason but then my traffic from Google increased. It since jumped to a 3. I also see sites with a 1 getting more traffic than sites with a 5. I wouldn’t have removed any paid links or implement the nofollow links. It’s your site. Also did Google ever send out notices to Bloggers to stop. It’s all speculation and I suspect Google doesn’t really care as much as you think.

    1. Post

      Yeah they did send out notice, you can find it in their webmaster guidelines. Sorry Patrick but this isn’t speculation at all. They have been discouraging webmasters from selling links for years and no matter what you think this was about that.

  24. Hi
    Congrats to your reinstatement. I acknowledge your cleaning up with Google. That’s really something. I appreciate you sharing your experience. This is an eye opener for me re PR rating. I look forward to more of your articles and sharing of your experience.

  25. Hi,

    I have a couple of sites, and have made a general mess of them. Your posts helped me understand much of the mess I have created, and are helping me do things better.

    What I don’t understand is that what seems so overwhelming to me seems to come so easily to you guys…. I guess you went through your own hit or miss processes too…. this gives me hope that one day I’m going to “get it”.

    Thank you.


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