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Search Engine Optimization Update

What You Can Do About Google's PageRank Update
by Matthew Coers

If you've been following recent SEO news, then you know Google has recently updated the way it calculates PageRank. This update has hit the search market on the chin with many directories and content sites receiving deep penalties for brokering links, or having a large portion of their PR value derived from these types of programs.

At ProfitChoice, we have been following the events closely, and I wanted to take a moment to share with you some interesting information we have found � including what you can do if your site was negatively affected by this latest update.

In short, this latest update was designed to target the link selling industry. According to Google engineer Matt Cutts in an interview with WebProNews, "sites that sell links can lose their ability to pass PageRank."

The changes are not a huge surprise, but the ripple effect has had a major effect on an industry that some would argue Google helped create � the linking economy.

We have known for some time that purchasing links for the purpose of artificially inflating PageRank was against Google's Webmaster Guidelines. This is one of the primary reasons our Manual Web Directory Submission Program has stayed away from these types of directories. What has happened over the last couple weeks, however, was actually two different events.

The first was the update to the PageRank algorithm that affected the link sellers. Essentially demoting these sites and negating their ability to pass PageRank.

The second wave happened several days later when Google updated PageRank for all the sites in their index. The new, lower PageRank values were used in this new calculation, and many sites that did not engage in link brokering were negatively affected.

Cutts says, "a lot of sites in the search and SEO space were a little more affected by [this update] than some other niches, just because maybe two or three hops upstream from a given site maybe that site isn't flowing page rank as much anymore." In fact, even the Open Directory Project ( was lowered from a PR9 to a PR8

As they say, a rising tide lifts all ships. In this case, the effect was to essentially lower the water level. Most sites that experienced a one point drop in PageRank over the last couple weeks will not see a dramatic change in their search traffic from Google because the update will affect their competition about as much as themselves.

But no one wants to have a lower PageRank, so what can you do about it?

As with all updates, you can use this situation to your advantage by responding before your competition does.

First, make sure your site is listed on the directories that Google has decided are still worth using. Not all directories were punished. In fact, some gained PR in this latest update (of course, we have the list).

Secondly, you should diversify your interests. As I often say, you should look at directory listings as the FIRST step in a linking program, not the only step. Some directories are highly regarded, but in the end, they are all the same type of site. One thing that has become clear from this latest update is that Google is now looking at SEO-oriented sites as both a source of some great information on valuable websites, and also as a possible source of spam that they need to careful about.

That is why it is so important to work with the right database of directories.