Does Someone Have a Green Pen?

27 Mar

Last week, I noticed that the PageRank of dropped from 4 to 2. The PR of all internal pages, such as the Link Value Factors, dropped with two points as well, so this is clearly a manual PageRank penalty. After discussing this with several folks, the only reason I can think of why this happened is the footer of my blog (this design is a free WP Theme). It’s either that, or it’s because I haven’t been blogging a lot lately and this is Matt‘s way to let me know that I should post more often :)

First of all I want to stress out that I personally couldn’t care less about this penalty and this is not an “I want my PageRank back!” scream. I wouldn’t even care if Google turned it into a PR0, a greyed out PR or even a red or purple PageRank, but I do care about the reason why. If this PageRank penalty is because of the links in the footer (it actually is my only website that’s 100% clean :P ), it’s wrong for several reasons.

1. Lots of WP templates work with ‘sponsored by’ footer and/ or blogroll links and lots of mom and pop bloggers have never heard of either paid links, Matt Cutts, or even Google. Others may think that PageRank is directly related to their rankings and will turn hysterical if they see that their PR has been lowered because of factors that they don’t know is wrong.
In stead of lowering the rankings of the advertisers, Google thinks it’s more appropriate to lower the toolbar PR of template users who -in some cases, not in my case!- don’t even know they’re doing something wrong.

2. How about ‘designed by’ links? Can your PR get lowered because of linking to your website designer as well? This is pretty much the same.

3. This actually is a penalty for linking to irrelevant websites. Besides using the WP template, I never accepted any form of payment or whatsoever, so technically, the links aren’t even paid ones.

4. Indirectly, Google’s telling people which website template they can use and which ones they can’t. It’s either breaking the template’s conditions of use (leaving the links up is mandatory), risking a lowered PageRank, or following the Rules Of Google.

Some have suggested to nofollow or remove the links in the footer and to do a reinclusion request, but I’ve decided not to. In stead, I’ll do exactly what I said I will do my footer; I’ll leave the links up (which is mandatory when you use the template) until I have a new design. Do you have designing skills that rock and some spare time? Drop me a note and you might just end up with a ‘designed by’ footer link. From a PR2 blog…

Until then, does someone have a green pen, so I can fill up the void on my toolbar?

12 Responses to “Does Someone Have a Green Pen?”

  1. Reynder March 27, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    This is only the beginning and where will it end? It realy sucks.

    But why don’t you test different footers to find out where the penalty ends?

  2. Wiep March 27, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    Reynder; I’m curious where it will end as well.
    Testing it with different footers isn’t possible, because you have to take action if you want the PR to change…

  3. Reynder March 27, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    What do you mean by taking action? Google can give back your PR when you correct the ‘error’.

  4. Wiep March 27, 2008 at 4:33 pm #

    After correcting the error, you’ll have to file a reinclusion request. When the PR has been reset, you’re depending on manual reviews. And that isn’t the best foundation for a test…

  5. Reynder March 27, 2008 at 4:53 pm #

    That is correct. In my ignorance of Google I thought for a moment that the Google bot will correct the PR after it’s next visit.

  6. Gab March 27, 2008 at 7:34 pm #

    1) I have a green pen.
    2) Coloured your meter up and filled it :).
    3) Possibility 1: They’re saying paying for links indirectly – e.g. something they perceive as manipulative, especially in a only vaguely-related context like this – is not acceptable. Whether you pay directly or indirectly.
    4) Possibility 2: The sites you’re linking to in the footer got ripped, and this is collateral damage.
    5) 3: Some blackhat was using the theme, he got footprinted and you’re collateral damage of that.

  7. PPCblogger March 27, 2008 at 11:00 pm #

    Its pretty dumb…

    But the reason is because you know they are paid links, express it and leave them in. If it were a mom and pop site they wouldn’t have a clue and wouldn’t get hit.

    I’m not saying its right, just saying that will be why.

    Actually a lot of time you might not be able to remove the links either – there’s a whole load of eval (base64 or whatever) encoding going on which to a lot of people will just be jibberish.

    The real php can be decoded, but its a pain.

  8. Arnie March 28, 2008 at 2:00 am #

    So I just paid for a new template. They had two payment levels: 1) lower payment but you had to keep the footer links back to their site 2) pay a little more and you could remove their link

    I paid the higher price so I could modify the footer the way I wanted to and remove both their links.

    Since I did the reverse of a paid link, shouldn’t I expect a bump in PR? Would that be called a “paid unlink”?

    If you are truly getting hit soley because of your footer, Google has just gone too damn far with all this.

  9. Wiep March 28, 2008 at 7:26 am #

    Gab; I think that it’s partially possibility 1 and partially what PPCblogger said

    PPCblogger; That might be the issue (I think so too), but isn’t a fair reason. If I tried to hide them or left them like they were initially, would that be ‘ok’ again?

    Arnie; I certainly agree with you that Google has just gone too damn far with all this…

  10. PPCblogger March 28, 2008 at 10:54 am #

    I believe that if you just left the footers in the bottom as they were and didn’t draw attention to them with the amusing paragraph then you probably wouldn’t of got hit directly.

    Google might of played nice and stripped any value being passed from those links only.

    Again, I’m not saying its right, just saying that will probably be why.

  11. Gab April 3, 2008 at 6:13 pm #

    Another thought: perhaps because you dofollow comments?

    Also, I like Arnie’s paid unlink idea, heh. Boost me with PR for not being manipulative!

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