Economist gets PageRank wrist-slap from Google

Matt Wardman has an interesting post on the Economist having its PageRank cut by Google (translation: Google punishes Economist for unknown transgression by giving its website less importance and therefore, probably, lower ranking).

Here’s what he says:

It seems that they have made a basic mistake of selling text links on the home page, which bear no real relation to the content of the page – and then by leaving simple “links” in place which will enhance the position of those client sites in Google.

Both practices are resolutely opposed by Google (summary), and have been for some time.

Here is a screen shot of the bottom of the Economist home page this lunchtime:


The list of advertisers is areas which are often found trying to gain advantage in the search engines by link buying.

… multiple links to the same site, a mass of keywords, and they are simple links that pass pagerank.

… There seem to be several howlersmistakes:

  • Text links being sold to advertising Clients not particularly relevant to the page. Bearing in mind that the practice has been under fire from Google for some considerable time, that was asking for trouble.
  • Allowing those links to be visible to search engines. The recommendation is to add a “nofollow” attribute to the links, use Javascript, or to use a redirect.
  • To do this with Credit Checking Services and “Cheap Loan” Finance companies seems – on top of the above – to be like running a red-flag up the flagpole for the sake of it.

… The moral? Take great care when you implement adverts and text links: you are in bed with an elephant.

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3 thoughts on “Economist gets PageRank wrist-slap from Google

  1. Pingback: Digital Rant » Blog Archive » Economist gets slapping from Google

  2. John Lessnau

    Two things happenned, their toolbar pagerank was lowered and their paid footer links stopped passing value. I am sure their real pagerank, that only google knows, remains the same since they have not lost their rankings.

    It’s not a good idea to buy text links on high profile sites like this in the footer or side bar. They are way to easy to spot and have someone blog about. At best you are wasting your money, at worst you loose your rankings.

    Relevant links in the content of their articles would be great though.

  3. Matt W

    >Relevant links in the content of their articles would be great though.

    Yes, but of course someone would notice the advert if they were for sale … a chicken and egg situation.

    So … it’s back to organic links.


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