Ok, so I hardly blog because I suck. I have about 20 blog articles (and about 20 interviews) that I haven’t posted, so my blog really isn’t the most topical in the world. I aim to fix that in the near future.
However, the cool thing about owning a blog that three people read is that I can rant. Ooh, ranting is fun. Ranting clears the nasal passages and gets that pesky peanut crumble that’s been hiding behind that one fucked up tooth to dislodge. Ranting makes me feel like I’ve got hair on my chest and a sword in my hand, on the open seas and shout “aaargh.” Yes, ranting makes me feel like a pirate.
Oh, rumblepup, you need more diversions.
Ranting about Google is even more fun (or as I’m apt to say when I’ve downed a couple at SES, more funner.)
I don’t hate Google. In fact, in all honesty, in my opinion they have created what has to be one of the most impressive information search and retrieval systems in history. I mean, when you think about the mass of information available in the world, all written up in these weirdo little documents that we create with a mixed up, funky language called html, and all wrapped up nice and neat on a folder on a server called “websites,” it’s downright mind boggling what are the steps to index, sort, store and categorize them. Bill Slawski and I talked about it once, and my head exploded. No kidding. Right there. Bill knows the Google Patents like nobody’s business, and when he told me about just three of the aspects of the Google algo, stuff started leaking out my ears. He stopped just before I went “scanner.”
Suffice to say, I respect Google. I’m a fan. I use their stuff, and I search the net using their engine. But man, can they piss you off as well. I mean, I’m in an industry where most of the people involved are either learning more about Google, working with Google, or downright hating Google. It’s true I tell you. Out of the mouths of the most respected SEO’s and SEM’s you will hear at least once a week,
“Fuck, I hate Google.”
And just few weeks ago, Google bandied out another Googlespaz event that made an whole bunch of people say it more than once. In fact, they probably said it consistently for about 6 hours straight. I had one SEO friend answer the phone that way.
Fuck I hate Google.
Yeah, it can get frustrating. What’s up?
Fuck I hate Google.
I hear you bro. So what, you lost some SERP to a MFA?
Fuck I hate Google.
Ok. Talk to you later bro. Stay away from the box cutters.
You see, Google bitched slapped a whole bunch of sites with a Page Rank Penalty for “selling links”, or “network linking.” On some of them, it’s hard to really understand the penalty. Old news, and better documented by Andy Beard.
Do I watch Page Rank like my life on the net depends on it?
I don’t sell links, and my SERP’s don’t depend on them. Never have. I give a cursory glance to them, from time to time, to see the 6 month old dust up there, but I pay attention to search results. Oh, and cache rate, I like watching cache rate. (that one’s for free) Dave Davies told me that might be a good idea.
I know. Shocking! Search Results! What a novel idea! You mean SERP’s are more important than Page Rank? Way more important? Damn rumblepup, you got a set on you.
C’mon. It’s an old debate, made even older by the fact that some Googlers said they hardly even pay attention to the Page Rank Tool. They pay attention to Page Rank, but their own, internal Page Rank that they keep in a jar under Matt’s Desk and you only get to see if you know the secret hand shake and name your first born Larry or Sergey, even if you get a girl.
However, they penalized one of my sites. My favorite one in fact. Apparently they thought that some of my site wides where paid links. Funny. I run an e-commerce site. I don’t need to sell links. I need to service my customer, or if I feel the need, link to another of my other sites. My decision. No money involved, and the other sites in my market, one big network in fact (no, I ain’t tellin, but they have no IBL’s except for the ones they give themselves), do the same thing, and Google loves them to death. But Oh My Goodness! It’s a site wide. Must be paid.
At first, I was like, darn, but big deal. SERP’s actually got better. I enjoyed a big ol PR5 for a whole year. Neato. Let me keep selling my stuff.
But then something happened. Something as an “SEO Insider” I wasn’t expecting. You see, I figured that the only people who know anything about Page Rank, or the meaning of Page Rank, were people in the SEO industry. I mean, as a marketer, I need eyes and buys, and reputation management helps the eyes turn to buys. Little did I know that Google decided to mess with my reputation.
The site I’m talking about is Cushions and Umbrellas, a site I’ve been working at for the past three years. To me, it’s just not a site, it’s much deeper than that. So I’ve worked that business with everything I’ve got. You guys know how it is. Up at 7AM, work your business with everything you’ve got, pass out at 3AM, to do it all over again.
Well, I got an email yesterday for a potential customer who came to my site, saw a big ol nothing of Page Rank, and sent me an email that said, I quote,
“Dear Cushions and Umbrellas,
I would like to inquire a little more about your business, as I would like to make a purchase. (Edited out product choices) As you know, online fraud is pretty prevalent, and it’s difficult to trust any site. I was recommended to you by (Another Customer. Edited) and was happy to find your products, however, because your Google pagerank was low, I felt that it was prudent to make sure you where a legitimate business.”
My pagerank was low?
You want to make sure I’m legit because my PR is low?
I contacted the customer and let him know that yes, we are a legitimate business, and that yes, just a few months ago I had a PR 5, but Google thought I was selling links, so they cut my Page Rank.
Now, he seemed like a typical web user who knows how to search, and savvy enough to protect his identity, so I asked him how he got his information. The customer was nice enough to tell me that when he downloaded his G toolbar, he read up on the features. And there, in black and white and Arial, is a quick note about Page Rank.
Wondering whether a new website is worth your time? Use the Toolbar’s PageRank™ display to tell you how Google assesses the importance of the page you’re viewing.”
Wow. I mean. Wow.
Google, via different channels and Matt Cutts , the webmasters and website owners that Google Toolbar in inaccurate and really doesn’t mean anything important, so don’t worry, keep working on that “unique content.”
Now, they tell my customer something completely different. I mean…COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. I nearly lost an order because of the difference.
Wow…Fuck, I hate Google.
So, I go to my trusty webmaster tools, you know, the one where we get to talk to Google on a deep, personal level, and keep it real?
I send them a little note.
Will they read it? Who knows? Will I loose SERP? Maybe, but not while I’m on the watch. Will they drop me from the index? Doubt it., expressing your opinion to Google does not expressly send you to the “Hell of A Thousand Lost Pages.” But they can if they want to, it (the index) belongs to them.
But I wanted to tell all three of my readers that;
- Yes, I put up site wide links to sites I owned or believed in.
- No, I did not sell ANY of them. Didn’t take one red cent.
- Yes, I linked to my own sites, just like the other network of sites with BIG PR do all of the time.
I’m including the personal and intimate letter I sent to Google, just so I know, and all three of you know, that it really happened. It wasn’t a dream, and that someday I might get a PR again.
I’ve just recently been informed that my site, www.cushionsandumbrellas.com, has lost all Page Rank. Although cushionsandumbrellas.com strives for good search engine placement, we’ve never relied on Page Rank for good results.
However, we have enjoyed a PR of 5 in the past. This has made it easier to show our trust value to our customers. We work very hard at ensuring our customers that we are a valuable and trustworthy asset to them. The Page Rank afforded by Google certainly helped.
I believe that we have recently been hit with a Page Rank penalty for supposedly selling links.
I just want to state that we have never, in any way shape or form, sold or exchanged for any monetary value, any link from our website. I, as the owner and webmaster of cushionsandumbrellas.com, have given a link to other web projects of mine, or other related websites. In the past, I have linked to
The Cabinet Hardware Zone
Skin Care Products
Both Skin Care Products (banler.com) and Patio Popular (patiopopular.com) are my personal projects, and I felt I could give them a link.
Backyard Ideas was a link that I gave to a related site that I felt had value for my customers, as well as The Cabinet Hardware Zone. (being home related)
Again, although I never relied on Page Rank for any kind of search results, it does mean something to my customers who have the Google Toolbar installed the amount of visible trust that Google has applied to my site.
According to the Google Toolbar for Firefox Help Center:
Wondering whether a new website is worth your time? Use the Toolbar’s PageRank™ display to tell you how Google assesses the importance of the page you’re viewing.
I have just received an email from a potential customer who felt that it’s difficult to trust my site and my business based on the Page Rank of my site. The customer followed up the email with a call to “make sure cushionsandumbrellas.com was a legitimate business.”
Can you see why this hurts?
I do not think that I have violated Google’s Quality Guidelines. I feel that I have been penalized for something that I was not a part of.
Good night Gracie.