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Just a theory, but I think Google’s PageRank reduction for sites that sold links came through the hand of SEOs reporting sites of SEOs.

I think we did this to ourselves. Would love comments.
Comments28 Comments  

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from Sebastian 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

You comment form has this strange "if name == Sebastian then delete comment" logic, so here it goes.Of course Google did check the paid link reports, and probably a few of them made it into the toolbar-massacre-queue. The majority of the targeted sites have/had uncondomized ads and paid links up that a brain dead monkey can detect. I could write the algos to extract the "primitive" (<a href="http://sebastians-pamphlets.com/a-pragmatic-defense-against-googles-anti-paid-links-campaign/#comment-593">Fantomaster’s trademark</a>) paid links from these sources myself, hence Google can detect them algorithmically. When a site hit in the toolbar massacre has no primitive paid links, then most probably a competitor turned it in. In some cases paid link reports matched the results of automated detection, and I bet in some cases the reports helped to fine tune the algos. Lets not forget that Google is in the devalue-paid-links business for ages. We should expect that a few years of development will result in pretty smart paid links discovery algos. I don’t think that all the toolbar PR deductions were hand jobs. 

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from rustybrick 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think this round was hand done, but in the future, i think it wont be.

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from Feydakin 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Just by looking at all the sites that didn’t get swept up in the devalued pagerank it certainly looks like Google took a lot of what was posted in the SEO blogs to find their targets.. It makes me wonder how this would have gone if everyone had treated this as a non event several months ago instead of whipping everyone up in to a frenzy trying to get dugg / sphunn / redditted (what is the word for that?) etc. ??

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from Halfdeck 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 2

"I think we did this to ourselves."Yeah, well in a way we did - by taunting Google day in and day out that it can’t do crap about paid links and it’s spinning its wheels waging a useless war. Well, whether Google can or cannot detect paid links, Google is sending a loud "yes we can detect your paid links" message to webmasters."In my opinion, this was a fairly manual process."Youtube going to a TBPR 3 kinda tells me some of it was algorithmic. Manual review is often necessary to weed out false negatives (to prevent innocent sites from getting penalized) but the detection process, like Sebastian outlined, I think is a combination of algo/spam reports, not manual.Keep in mind that if you’ve lost TBPR, most likely your forward links (paid text links) are already devalued. So I would avoid shelling out too much money for links on sites that don’t offer any traffic/brand awareness/conversion benefits, because buying links on a penalized site finishing for some link juice is pointless. Google already labeled a site like that as a link seller.

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from SearchBuzz 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

i do not believe this adjustment was manual....too many sites where hit that were ’caught in the crossfire’, and neither buying nor selling links.  :)

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from rustybrick 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"Youtube going to a TBPR 3 kinda tells me some of it was algorithmic."  I addressed that in my post.  But again, I can be 100% wrong.

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from iBrian 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Barry, are you seriously telling us that Google did a manual Toolbar PR reduction on YouTube? I think it shows the weakness of your argument that you really can’t address it in your post.IMO the YouTube issue is pretty indicative of an algorithmic issue, that Google quickly tried to correct with another update.Of course, if SEO’s stopped reading the exact same blogs and went out into the wider world, they might notice that. :)

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from rustybrick 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Brian,<div></div><div>I am saying it was a mistake.  I can of course be wrong... Did you read my post?</div><div></div>The form collected hundreds, if not thousands of sites. Google probably put a person or two on the task of scanning the list to validate if those sites sold links. YouTube was on the list, the person who reviewed it may have been on the call and forgot to uncheck it as a site that sells links and moved on.

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from mvandemar 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

<blockquote>Barry, are you seriously telling us that Google did a manual Toolbar PR reduction on YouTube?</blockquote>iBrian, you’re relying on two huge misconceptions with that statement:1) No SEO would ever be enough of a smartass to file a spam report on a website that Google owned, and2) The Google team actually checked all of the reports before applying the penalties.The only way his argument shows any weakness is if you can say with 100% certainty neither of those are true.Great post Barry.

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from DazzlinDonna 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I think it was a) likely generated via spam reports, b) hand penalized, and c) a few were caught up in some oopsies, youtube included.  So, I concur with Barry’s assessment.  It would be pretty easy to miss unchecking a checkbox.

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from shimsand 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

My programmer who resolved my "This site may harm your computer says that it might be from another SEO trying to sabotage his competitor (me) in the SERPs.  I hope he’s wrong, and that SEO’s are not reporting other SEO’s to Google, or doing anything malicious to each other.

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from mvandemar 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

<blockquote>It would be pretty easy to miss unchecking a checkbox.</blockquote>Even easier to hit the one that just says "Select All". :P

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from dannysullivan 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sigh. Well, Barry, you know that article I wrote back in early October -- Google said this was done mostly through a manual process. So yeah, it was a manual process. And I’ve no doubt that the paid link reporting tool, which is mostly known only to SEOs, is one of several ways Google added to the preexisting data of sites that it was preventing from passing PageRank and now making visible through PR drops.YouTube, of course, it just flipping weird.

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from rustybrick 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Danny,I honestly forgot that, but it is good to have confirmation on that now.

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from crimsongirl 3612 Days ago #
Votes: -8

"we did this to ourselves"Who is this "we"?I have no idea if the reduction was done by hand or automated or what.  But I get the impression that you think "we" should not have done anything.  And that is wrong.If a client hires you to improve his/her site’s position, and you see higher ranking sites using paid links, you have a professional obligation to use Google’s reporting mechanism to report the paid links.  If you don’t report the paid links, you should just turn in your SEO card.  Go do something else.  Because you are not representing your client’s best interests.

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from NickWilsdon 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

 If I was Google, I would have temporarily reduced the PR on YouTube as damage limitation. Reports of it happening seemed to come out slightly after the sh*t hit the fan. It would give me plausible deniability that I had manually penalised or directly targeted the influential sites that were getting so angry. Such a high profile example gives credibility to the suggestion this was based on an algorithm.**lest we forget Google doesn’t want everyone to think they manually edit the results. They are being more honest about it now (as Danny writes) but it’s still in their interests to stick to the algorithm line. Ah speculation is fun :)

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from Sebastian 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 1

http://searchengineland.com/071007-173841.php :Google stressed, by the way, that the current set of PageRank decreases is not assigned completely automatically; the majority of these decreases happened after a human review. That should help prevent false matches from happening so easily.That piece from Danny’s article confirms that there are completely automatically PR decreases, just not many. Also, sending out algos to feed a review queue fits both Google’s usual approach as well as "happened after a human review" of the algorithmically paid links detections. That does not mean that paid link reports didn’t feed the review queue too. I mean turning in the competition is just business, eh?

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from Sebastian 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

> Ah speculation is fun :)Yup.

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from gabs 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I still have a feeling some sites had been marked for a long time.. This isn’t new just finally made public...

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from gabs 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

imho... of course!

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from johnandrews 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I have test sites :-)   I’ll out them when the time is right.Google is brazen. A mom & pop site with a set of recommended products links related to the mom&pop business (not paid, not requested, not reciprocated). They sure as hell "look" like paid links. But one set, on a single, dissociated, local mom&pop site, which has no sitewides and no history of spamming or other outlinking beyond the typical stuff. Went from tbPR5 ->  tbPR3.Sure it could be other things. Maybe it’s just low "quality" LOL. Seriously. If Google is watching sites like that they are pathetic. Since they are not, it’s the algo that is pathetic and will doom them for being so greedy and abrasive. The days of webmasters not noticing Google’s casual / careless demotions are long gone. Even if tbPR has no effect on traffic, the business owners are watching it and taking it quite personally.

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from iBrian 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Barry, I’m not saying there are no manual decreases - we’ve already seen this reported over the recent paid links or not fiasco.But trying to boil down everything down to SEO’s outing SEO’s for manual review just sounds kind of - out there. Funnily enough, there are non-SEO’s who submit spam reports - you read them all the time on "SEO forums", and as covered above, Google like to try things algorithmically where possible.YouTube reduced due to a brainfart? I don’t buy that - not unless Google were to publically confirm this and therefore indicate to all how flawed the manual review process is. Still, Nick Wilsdon’s comment is intriguing, though I think Google are too straight for that. :)

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from rustybrick 3612 Days ago #
Votes: -1

Oh, Brian, the SEO reporting SEO thing.  I swung it that way to get some heated comments.<div></div><div>I personally don’t think SEOs are really to blame.  SEOs have lots of faults, including being the reason for global warming. ;-)</div><div></div><div>Anyway, it was just a ’Sphinnable Title" as I like to call it.</div>

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from SamIWas 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Am I the only one sensing the irony in how something that has so long widely been regarded as ’dead’ by so many is now causing the seo blogosphere to explode with posts?That’s not the only irony. It hasn’t done anything to anyone’s traffic, so why the huge fuss?Interestingly enough, sites like daringfireball.net  haven’t regained their lost px yet, even though they don’t sell text links (unless the DECK is now considered that!). More food for the manual theory there I’d say :)

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from iBrian 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Heh, Barry, after having to correct a botched server move and spend days correcting DNS issues, I’m on tenderlooks. :)

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from rustybrick 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I got lot of divs in my comments. :)  Must be the Leopard and Safari 3.0 messing with Sphinn!

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from Eavesy 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I’d love to know weather or not my SEOCO site got hit with a penalty. I haven’t ever sold links and I don’t have any paid links either, it could just be because a lot of the directories it is listed in and a lot of the sites it had links from dropped in PR. I think they should put something in the webmaster central if you have been hit with a PageRank penalty.

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from Halfdeck 3612 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"SEOs have lots of faults, including being the reason for global warming."Heh, I thought global warming was Google’s fault?"Am I the only one sensing the irony in how something that has so long widely been regarded as ’dead’ by so many is now causing the seo blogosphere to explode with posts?"I guess deep inside, people don’t believe TBPR is meaningless. Meaningless for ranking maybe, but not for conducting business.

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