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Rolling with the Punches and Looking for Positives in the Negatives

Posted By Darren Rowse 26th of October 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Keep-PunchingIt was a little over 24 hours ago that everything hit the fan around the blogosphere with Google’s Re-Ranking of hundreds of blogs. It’s been an interesting day since I first posted about it with a number of interesting experiences coming along with it including:

  • Calls from 3 journalists (one Australian and two US) wanting to get comments on the story
  • Emails and IM chats with numerous SEOs sharing their ‘theories’ and ‘inside gossip’ from the Googleplex

Ironically the whole controversy has also had two other results:

Firstly traffic was up today by around 40% – the story has caused a lot of people to check out the ‘de-ranked’ blogs

Secondly and very ironically the controversy has caused a lot (hundreds) of extra in bound links to ProBlogger (and I pressume many of the other penalized blogs and sites).

What we’re being penalized and/or made an example for I don’t really know (Google’s not great at explaining these sorts of things) but the net effect has been that many of the sites being ‘hit’ could well come out of this better off than they went in – with new readers and perhaps even a better search engine ranking in the long run.

I guess there’s a few lessons here:

  • Don’t Get Depressed Get Motivated – every person that I’ve ever met that makes a full time living from web publishing has a story to tell about periods where things didn’t go their way (or where they completely fell apart). Those that succeed find ways to push through these times, learn from them and come out stronger.
  • Leverage Leverage Leverage – yesterday when I saw my slumped page rank I had a few options before me. I could have ignored it, I could have gotten down and despondent and wallowed and done very little work as a result or I could have found a way to leverage it. I decided to write a post about it and to see what would happen. The result was that today was one of the most productive days that I’ve had for a long time.
  • Network – there are days when blogging feels very lonely. The reality is that you’re not alone in the challenges that you face as a blogger – not matter what the issue is, there’s someone else who has, is or will face the same thing. The key is to reach out, find these people, debrief with them, learn from them and work together on solutions.

I know I know – I’m one of those annoyingly optimistic people (it drives my wife nuts). I’m sorry, I can’t help it.

The problem is that it’s actually days like today that make or break bloggers. Not only is it days like today that many bloggers give up – it’s days where many miss great opportunities. Keep Punching!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. To heck with Google. I enjoy your blog and especially your video blogs. Very nice work. You are an insightful, level headed blogger who is both fun to read and to listen to.

  2. “I know I know – I’m one of those annoyingly optimistic people”

    That’s one of the reasons I come back here – the optimistic approach. Much better than the negativity at some other blogs…

  3. Hey Darren, great lessons from whateveritisthathappened! (Not to mention – good lessons for life, too!

    Keep on, Buddy!

  4. Darren,

    Great advice here! I think it’s always important to keep your head up. I don’t think it’s really all that bad because if you’re writing about something your passionate about, who really cares about your pagerank and what not. In due time, everything will realign and everything will work out for you.

    If people get overly caught up in all that SEO nonsense, I really believe they are blogging for the wrong reason. What you write about should keep you rolling with the punches. What you’re trying to accomplish and get out to the world should keep you motivated.

    I’m glad to see you’re taking it positively, and you’re going to keep on doing what you do. Love the blog.


  5. Excellent peice of advise for business, personal and whatever else.

  6. Persistence is a precursor to success.

  7. I just broke 100,000 visitors this month. Took me a year to get to this point, but I did it. PageRank doesn’t matter anymore.

    Like Dory said in “Finding Nemo” – Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swi Swi Swimming….

  8. That is great news about your bump in traffic due to this whole page rank fiasco.

    It is a great thing that you are able to actually come out smelling like roses from something that could have paralyzed lessor bloggers!

    But then again, that is why we read you.

  9. I guess it doesn’t hurt if you’re not paying attention to it. I don’t have clue about the Google ranking of any of my blogs.

    Of course, I’d probably be paying more attention if I were making a living blogging, but I don’t yet, and may never, but, come what may, I intend to keep blogging along.

    Keep on at it, Darren… it’s good to be an optimist!

  10. I think it’s good to be optomistic.
    In this case, it paid off a lot.
    Keep up the positive outlook!
    And I hope you get your PageRank back – you deserve it!

  11. Omar Yesid Mariño says: 10/26/2007 at 6:02 am

    Darren, you are a winner. And your blog is really fantastic! Google will never be able to remove the faithful readers like me.

  12. Pessimism gets you nowhere anyway, Darren. It’s much better to be optimistic.

    Which do you think is more constructive?

    “Oh I can’t get google traffic… wahhh… I was banned… wahhh… oh boo hoo poor me” (that’s how people are on forums all the time)


    “Pagerank went down, oh well. Time to work harder!”

    I think the answer is obvious.

  13. Great attitude! I think I would be more worried if this happened to me.

  14. Hi Darren,

    First time comment on here – just curious when the entire PR joke will be over. For too long has too much of an emphasis been on it. Maybe that was the purpose of going after some higher PR and higher end sites such as yours, Forbes.com and the others. Maybe Google is trying to dispell their self-create phenomenon surrounding PR and what it trully means to a site? That a PR can drop and sites still get traffic, search results and survive when the owners, content creators and publishers are creative, agile and adaptive to a hostile environment?


  15. I added the nofollow today on one of main site(1coolfile.com). I’m looking at promoting traffic and getting new traffic to it instead. PR will come in time even if I have PR0 for now ;)

  16. you have seen nothing yet… 2008 will be worst :)

    “At Google, we constantly feed the winners and starve the losers,” Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s senior vice president of product management, said of how the company allocates resources to fund innovative products while cutting out poor performers.

  17. I agree Darren and I think this is a great attitude to have. And of course it rings true in further reaching areas than just Google PageRank – there will always be things that come along and seem to spoil the party.

    It is said that Outcome = Event + Reaction

    We can’t control those external events, but what we CAN control is our reaction to them. That’s the only way we can control the eventual outcome. If all we do is hide away and cry when this stuff happens we are not helping ourselves at all.

  18. I am sorry this happened to you. It probably doesn’t make you feel any better, but you have lots of company.

    Sadly, I took a hit also. My blog was decreased from page rank of 3 to 2 today. I had thought that my blog was small enough and low enough in page rank that it would be under the radar. Apparently I was wrong about that.

    I think that the down-rating, especially of obviously quality sites like ProBlogger, has had the effect of undermining Google’s credibility.

    I wonder how much longer it will be until no one pays any attention to page rank at all?

  19. So far (knock on wood, fingers crossed) my only site to get hit at all was one that I haven’t done much with for a year or so except to summarize some press releases. I wasn’t scraping RSS feeds or anything, just trying to keep some minimal content going for the few regular readers until I had time and motivation to bring it back to life, but I’m sure it appeared “spammy.”

    I’m kind of wondering if this wasn’t just an attempt by Google to deal with Page Rank inflation. The old formulas for determining PR were set when there were far fewer websites. 100 incoming links means a lot more in a universe of 1,000,000 websites than a universe of 50,000,000,000 sites, so eventually they either had to allow PRs higher than 10 or they had to change the formulas. If that’s all it was, it shouldn’t impact traffic much as the effect is going to be pretty widespread, though it will impact those Text Link Ad sales which are based on some combination PR and Alexa ranking. It looks like my sites with Open Directory listings survived despite any other issues, so it may also be that they’re re-evaluating PR based on the Trust Rank of the incoming links.

  20. Thanks for the pick me up. I was getting too excited over the Google text searches for many of our DVD reviews. Our site does not even use TLA and is a member of only a handful of blog network directories.

    I’ll just have to draw traffic using good ole fashion networking.

  21. Mine stayed the same.

    So now my little personal / poetry/ commentary blog rates higher than ProBlogger!

    For the moment.

  22. I’ve known for a LONG time PR from google doesn’t mean much. It’s amazing how many egos were hurt by this last google slap. Darren, you’ve kept it in great perspective! Taking the positive out of it.

    Here’s a good example for you. I have a site that is fairly new (4 mos. old) that has a ZERO PR and yet is ranked NUMBER TWO in a fairly competitive nich.

    You heard that right! A PR “0” and ranking one slot below the best on the net for that specific term. And it is not a long-tail term either.

    Provide good content and do some smart linking and you’ll be fine.

  23. I aways knew my main blog (not the one linked via my name) was an equal to Problogger, and now we are, at least in PageRank…….Ok, maybe not. I think the googlebot hasn’t reached the lower levels of blogdom yet, plenty more fall out from the last couple of days to come along I think.

    Maybe 4 is the new 7, maybe google decided 1 is really higher than 10 and inverted pagerank. Maybe the cleaner pulled the plug on the pagerank machine to do the hoovering, and forgot to plug it back in again.

    Guess, guess, guess we’ll never know.

  24. If one looks hard enough, one can find something beneficial that comes from a bad circumstance. For example, many of the penalized sites are experiencing a spike in their traffic. Another important point that this has illustrated is the fact that bloggers should not rely solely on Google for traffic and blog-related income. Bloggers should pursue defensible traffic and continually experiment with many different income streams.
    Every blogger should develop and then execute a sensible, well-thought-out SEO strategy for their site, then develop other sources of traffic. AdSense can be a real source of income for a sitemaster, but it’s a sensible strategy to develop other sources of blog income.

    This is a very old saying, but it bears mentioning once again:

    “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

    Bloggers need to DIVERSIFY.

  25. I agree that punches need to be rolled with. Getting down on something just isn’t good for your health. If you get bitter enough about something it will even show through in your writing. Things you don’t have a ton of control over just aren’t worth worrying about.

  26. There’s something sloppy about this recent PageRank update, which decidedly un-Google like.

    And what with Google not getting social media, maybe it’s politically motivated? By that, I mean internal business politics, within the Googleplex.

    Thing about it —while ever people like you & me are finding stuff on Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and del.icio.us, we’re not searching for stuff on Google — and that attacks at the very heart of Google’s revenues…

  27. Darren, a great post once again, thanks for the motivation

  28. Bill – welcome to ProBlogger’s commenting community :-)

    when will it be over? your guess is as good as mine. The last 36 hours has certainly been a joke. I’m not sure what Google really achieved but considering the emails that I’ve received in the last 12 hours (just clearing my inbox now after waking up) the general reaction from people that I am in contact with is that Google’s probably come out of this worse than they went into it. They’ve peeved off a lot of people, confused a lot of others and disillusioned some more. And above all they’ve made page rank even more irrelevant in the eyes of many. Not sure what they were trying to do – but unless this is some crazy way to make everyone ignore page rank it’s not worked :-)

  29. Thank you very much for this great motivating post! I bet google will say something one day :)

  30. Yeah, I hope that it’s not just bloggers who rebound from this but the online industry as a whole. Hopefully PR will go the way of the Dinosaur and we can actually start valuing links a little better in the future.

  31. But wait, I still don’t know what has gone wrong here? You’re not getting less traffic from searches (PR is only a small factor in Google’s ranking these days, it’s mostly for weighting your outbound links), you don’t sell text link ads so aren’t affected by a lower price for them and you are already a hugely successful blog that is powerful both on it’s own and as part of a massive and important network.

    It’s reasonably easy for you to say “Don’t get depressed, get motivated” when all the motivation you need is to post about this and get more traffic.

    I’m sorry if I’m the one being negative here Darren, I’m actually a big fan of this blog, but you and all the other bloggers that are raking in the big money will not be affected by this and you are the guys moaning about it. It’s all very well making a positive and upbeat post about it now, but there was nothing downbeat in the first place and you could very well have ignored it and carried on.

    Personally, the sooner my feed reader is clean of posts about the “penalties” Google has placed upon you and the other poor bloggers who are “suffering” because of it, the better.

  32. I’m extremely new to all of this and I have a web site and not a blog, though there isn’t that much difference in my mind, but there have been a few things I’ve noticed while I’ve been bumping around. I could be wrong. The quality of google ads has dropped dramatically, getting relevant ads on your site is a real battle, even folks who have been around for awhile have noticed good ads exchanged for ads that bring nothing to their sites. One reason may be that google has lowered its standards and is taking any advertiser out there. That would seem like bad business to me, the alternative is that advertisers have moved away from google ads in favor of affilite or paid ads. Why? The other problem, and it goes in a circle, is there is a lot, a whole lot, of you click mine I’ll click yours going on. The same goes for submitted articles and such to digg etc. There are also a lot of junk sites getting good hits and clicks, and how is that happening? Take a guess. It undermines the entire industry and it’s got to bust somewhere. As an advertiser if I’m going PPC and I’m not getting much in the way of click throughs I’m going to move on to something that gives me a better turn around for my money. It’s that simple. If I spend money I expect to make money, if I don’t I cut and run and find a better way.
    I don’t think google is hitting good sites to punish them, they probably know you’ll ride this out, that’s how you made it this far in the first place. As for the weaker ones, they likely won’t fair as well and that may well be the plan.
    Every industry I’ve ever been involved in has to purge every so often, looks like this might be it for google. They’ve made a lot of money in adverts and you can bet they intend to keep doing it. Maybe this is a gamble but if they’re already losing they have nothing further to lose by dropping a load of losing sites and everything to gain by getting rid of the glut.

  33. I predicted the ironic climb for penalized blogs earlier today…


    All the doom and gloom amazes me. It’s a little green stripe in a toolbar. When somebody shows me stats that the “PR” drop has done anything to SERPS or stats, then I will be impressed.

  34. Darren —
    I have talked about this the past few weeks on my site. Who this hurts is the little guy. This hurts the single mom trying to make money with her little site so her kids can have new clothes.

    Big guys like you and John Chow etc.. get press out of it. The little guy doesn’t. They just lost all their visitors.

    Google has struck all the little guys of the world.

    It is pitiful.

  35. Darren – I was going to email this to you, but, I thought I should share it with everyone.

    I think we all should ‘bite our tongues’ (so to speak) in our thoughts about Google. I mean, think about it people. What have Google ever done against us, really? Although they offer a service, they are a business at the end of the day. I don’t know about you, but if it was left to Yahoo and MSN search engines, I would barely receive any organic traffic.

    Google are doing something, and as they are a business, they are not answerable to those who use their free service. Let’s just ‘sit tight’ and see what shall be revealed from the Googleplex hereafter.

  36. Darren,

    It’s bewildering.

    While I do agree with Rahul (above) that people shouldn’t get caught up in the nonsense of the number of hits to their site: people depend on an understanding of these rankings.

    My guess is that Google is shaking things up, just to shake them up because they don’t want people to be able to manipulate the system and a little churning now and again shouldn’t destroy any quality sites.

    Web publishing isn’t a place to stake your money right now. I just read this article on internet evolution – it argues that if TechCrunch is heralded as the best example of profitable Web publishing, then we might all be screwed.

    Appreciate the outlook, Darren. It’s nice to read a blog that isn’t just trying to throw witty punches at someone else.

  37. While smaller blogs that are also slapped by Google receive no links nor traffic. Only big blogs are mentioned.

  38. I like Armen’s take on things (a few comments before mine), but as we’re seeing, PR is a quick way to compare one site to another, it’s a badge of pride for those with high PRs and it’s a nice piece of bait with which we attract advertisers.

    It takes quite a while to go up even 1 step in PR, so right now people are feeling like they’re in marathon, and have just been told that they have to re-run the last 13 miles because too many spectators handed them water to drink during the race (something you didn’t know you could be penalized for)

    … that’s the analogy that comes to my mind.

    As for me … I’m wondering if anyone else is in my situation:

    My homepage went DOWN from PR4 to PR0, but all my other pages went UP from PR4 to PR5 … so I’m feeling pure ambivalence right now.
    Great work by the way Darren, lessons I’ve learned here extend past just traditional blogs

  39. I’m glad to see you in good spirits Darren. And I agree with your take on optimism. I can only imagine what would happen if Google stopped showing ProBlogger as often in search results. There would be a lot less quality blogs for one thing.

  40. Wow, this is the hottest topic since I first came to this site in September. The opinions and observations are very interesting and informative. Like Darren, I too drive my family crazy with my optimistic attitude.

    I consider another day above ground is a good day.

  41. am well aware about the nest thing that wil happen but no matter what happen am always positive that the best will always happen to me
    i enjoy the good work you are doing keep it up

  42. Can’t say my page rank changed much (it could only get better anyway). For a blog isn’t one of the primary rules to have good content? If that’s the case then any ranking system is secondary to it’s success. I can see why there’s a lot of rumbling out there but what Google really did was fire everyone up to talk to each other which in the end really helps us all.

  43. Today I started on rethinking my blog (with anguish because it is a confrontational exercise). Your ideas are very enlighting and your words motivate as well.
    Whatever the page ranking means… isn’t it all about the value and the human impact of a blog? On that scale you definitely rock.

  44. My page rank can only go up. With a new blog, I’m entering the game late, so the new rules don’t affect me yet.

    I’ve really enjoyed your site!

  45. This wave of change especially hurts the smaller bloggers like myself. We’ve not a savvy when it comes to SEO and legitimate companies offering SEO services. So along comes the Google Spider to swipe my PR6 without explanation or suggestions.

    Sure, we can turn to professional blogger sites to help us understand what went wrong, but at the end of the day we’re still left confused.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  46. Was expecting a PR 5 and got a PR 3 (from a PR 4)… Dang.. but my blogging site clearcutblogging.com went from 0 – 3 after about 2 months of blogging on it… such confusion. It will take a few days to really understand the ramifications of it all…

  47. Hi Darren,

    This my PR dropped from 5 to 3 happen at a very tough time at work for me.

    It did not help as I once wrote that “blogging keeps me sane” in this insane world.

    I’m one of these small bloggers and not a SEO expert. As a result it was a huge shock and disappointment as my blog Design Sojourn, like many other bloggers, had a lot of work put into it.

    After reading a lot of posts, including this one, it has put a lot of perspective back into the situation. I have found that PR had only affected my advertising dollars not traffic nor search result.

    However I can empathize for sites that main source of income is PR related advertising.

    Thanks for this and please keep in touch.

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