There has been a lot of controversy in the world of SEO as of late, mostly centering around the PageRank penalties that Google has been handing out to enforce their paid-link policies. The members of the SEO community, who do enjoy to voice their opinion from time to time, increased the size of Google's index by about 2.3% blogging about it (just kidding! I love the SEO community). As more updates to the Toolbar PageRank happened over the weeks, more disgruntled SEOs, webmasters and site owner's came out of the woodwork to express their outrage at Google for decreasing the Toolbar PageRank of their site.
This outrage was in the form of more blogging which, inevitably, a lot of people were reading. For a while you would be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn't writing about the latest Google PageRank Massacre. PageRank was on everyone's mind.
Those of us, such as myself, who pay little attention to the little green bar sat back and watched, interested in the developments regarding Google's policies and the paid-link debate. We would sift through post after post of someone denouncing Google because their Toolbar PageRank dropped from a 3 to a 2, loudly proclaiming that they shouldn't be penalized for the 2 paid links they have when the site around the corner has nothing but paid links and cloaked text.
As more and more people shared their tragic stories of their little green bar shrinking I started to notice that something was missing in the SEO blog community. No-one was complaining about their ranking positions anymore, wondering how their site could not possibly be in the top then when they had a 900 characters in their meta keywords tag and was positioning a div full of keywords at -9999px to the left. Suddenly it appeared that everyone had a perfectly optimized site with an abundance of high-value, relevant backlinks with content so useful and compelling that bounce rate was a thing of the past. But these sites were losing Toolbar PageRank, and since they were shining beacons of optimized perfection the only explanation is that they were casualties of the PageRank Massacre.
Give me a break.
I'm going to kill the sarcasm now and get to the point now. Here are some things that you might want to consider if you are thinking you got slapped by the latest Google crackdown:
1) Does Your Site Actually Have Paid Links?
Surprisingly there are people out there who are complaining about Google penalizing them in a PageRank Massacre when their sites don't actually have any paid links, or anything that even looks like a paid link. Whether its a cheap ploy to draw some worthless traffic or just a desire to be part of the group, it make you look foolish.
2) PageRank Can In Fact Decrease
Take a deep breath on this one and repeat after me: "My PageRank is not guaranteed to go up on every update". PageRank is a relative value and if your site is not keeping up with the rest of the herd your PageRank will decrease. This is growing more prominent every day as the level of competition continues to increase with more sites actually making an effort in SEO.
3) Stop Making Excuses
Unless you are in minority of sites that were actually penalized without cause, step back and take a good, honest look at the state of your website. Do you have quality content, user-friendly navigation, optimized titles and descriptions? Is it really so perfectly optimized that the only possible explanation is Google's ire?
My point here, if somewhat longwinded, is that it is easy to hop on the "Google screwed me" bandwagon when your site doesn't perform to your expectations. It takes a little more honesty and willingess to improve yourself, and your site, to recognize areas that need improvement and work on those. When it comes down to it, whether you got smacked with a PageRank penalty or simply fell behind the rest of the pack the best thing you can do is roll up your sleeves and get back to work. The time will always be much better spent and your site and your site's visitors will benefit because of it.