A recent Google algorithm update has led to many sites' PageRank dropping drastically, although almost all Direct Traffic's clients saw their own results improve.
This 'PageRank massacre' saw websites penalised for selling links that where, random, site-wide or big blocks of paid links, with many prominent publishers affected.
Forbes.com, WashingtonPost.com and engadget.com all dropped from PR7 to PR5, while Search Engine Guide and Search Engine Journal both slipped from PR7 to PR4. Other sites that were hit include Problogger, Andy Beard, Courtney Tuttle and StatCounter (which suffered a PR10 to PR6 fall).
Google have been prevaricating about this latest update for some time, but Direct Traffic believes that the search engine cannot relinquish its reliance on links completely, since this is the key feature of its algorithm.
Moving forward, the company will improve its algorithm in a slow, measured way so as not to throw search listings into chaos.
It will first of all remove those paid link offenders who are easiest to spot - for example, sites that have collections of links in the footer with no surrounding text, those with links from irrelevant websites, and link spammers (especially those using link churning - changing link positions or text at random).
Direct Traffic has always had a focus on responsible Link Building, and maintains that websites should always have the end user in mind.
Andy Boyd at Webmaint points out that Google is simply looking to root out poor quality link sellers, and that so long as you keep your quality high you will actually benefit as these players are removed.
Eric Ward from Search Engine Land has added his voice, welcoming the devaluation of web directories - which Direct Traffic has never valued as a long-term solution for link sourcing.
Direct Traffic welcomes the moves being made by Google to improve website relevance by taking the low-quality link sellers out of the picture.
"Google is just making relevancy count more, for us that is always much more of a concern than PR," James Helliwell from Team DT.
Andy Beard, whose site was negatively affected, speculates that Google may be keeping blog network interlinking down.
"Many of the reputable sources that have received a penalty are part of extensive blog networks, and they have one factor in common," he wrote. "They have massive interlinking between their network sites.
"They may also sell links or advertising that passes PageRank on some of their less visible properties, but those properties benefit from the high PageRank sites that link to them, with Sitewide Links.
"Some of these sites have been known to add or knock millions off of the price of Apple shares in the past, what do you think it is going to do to Google?"
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